Can you believe we are only two weeks out from Thanksgiving? It’s late this year, and it still feels like it snuck up on me a little bit. This year, I’m hosting for the first time at our new home, and I’ve been making some big plans. Check out the first two parts in this series on Menu Brainstorming and Building a Menu to catch up! Today, I’m talking all about the schedule and shopping list for hosting a holiday dinner.

Part 4

Thanksgiving Menu

We’re right about at the time in planning where you should be finalizing your menu ideas, and forming them into a full meal. I’m happy to say that my own menu for Thanksgiving is ready to go, and I’m excited to share it with you!

Appetizers and Hors D’oeuvres

We’ll start with passed appetizers, which we will serve in the game room. These are a fun way to start the meal, and get everyone ready for dinner. On Thanksgiving day, most people skip lunch, so apps can hold your guests over until dinner time. We are skipping plated appetizers for this meal, because the main course will include so many sides.

  • Harvest cheese and pickle board
  • Fall bread basket
  • Bacon wrapped water chestnuts
  • Crudite with dip trio

Main Course and Sides

It’s turkey dinner, so I didn’t go too crazy. Thanksgiving is filled with traditions, and I knew some of my guests would prefer not to mess with those. However, I added some fun side dishes that stay in the spirit of the holiday, while still allowing me to be creative.

  • Roasted whole turkey with gravy
  • Cornbread and lentil sausage stuffing
  • Cranberry and sage stuffing
  • Brussels sprouts with bacon jam
  • Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  • Root vegetable and cauliflower garlic mash
  • Twice-baked sweet potatoes with apple
  • Sauteed green beans with almonds
  • Homemade and canned cranberry sauces

Dessert and Drinks

This is my favorite part of the meal, so it’s hard to not go a little wild. However, I think I reined myself in and stuck with the traditions when it came to the desserts. But with the drinks, I let myself have a little bit more fun!

  • Double crust apple pie
  • Bourbon pumpkin pie
  • Hazelnut ice cream
  • White pear and cinnamon sangria
  • Apple cider hot toddies

Holiday Dinner Shopping Tips

When doing a big meal like this, you can split it into a couple shopping trips. About a week before, you should buy all of the non-perishables, like anything canned or frozen. Then about two or three days before you can buy all the produce, dairy, and last minute supplies. However, you should also think about which items can be made ahead, and buy all of those ingredients in your first trip.

For Thanksgiving, getting a turkey can be tough, since they are in high demand. Some grocery stores and many farms lets you reserve a fresh turkey. The other option is to get a frozen turkey. They take a few days to thaw in the fridge, though, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

For the rest of the dishes, write out all of the ingredients and amounts. Don’t leave out the staples like salt, flour, and oil. Once you have your full list, consolidate into specifics, so if you need one head of garlic for the mashed potatoes and another two cloves for a few other dishes, you’ll probably need two heads total.

Once you have your list, shop your own kitchen. It’s likely that you’ll have a few items on hand already. You don’t need to buy a brand new five pound bag of flour if you keep a back-up like I do. Do a thorough check of your spice cabinet and pantry for items you may not have used in awhile. Then be sure to check dates, and make a note to replace anything expired.

Last, organize your shopping list by shopping day and then aisle. Many grocery stores have apps that will sort automatically. Wegmans even lets you have multiple lists, so you can separate out each day of shopping. If your store doesn’t have an app, you can separate your own list by section, and then order based on your store. Holiday weeks can get crowded at the store, so you’ll want to be efficient!

Once you are home, you still need to eat for a few days before your big meal. Keep all of your holiday items set aside. In your pantry, you can assign a portion of a shelf or a specific bin. In the fridge, you can use organizer bins or dedicate a section. This will help you find everything later, and also not use it by accident earlier in the week.

We’re so close to hosting! Getting the menu and shopping done is a big deal, but there are still some details to figure out. Check back for the next update, where we plan the week-of and day-of schedules, and think about some fun tablescaping ideas!

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12 thoughts on “Host a Holiday Dinner: Menu and Shopping

  1. I am pretty sure I am hosting Thanksgiving this year, but we’re only having two additional guests (my sisters) so it shouldn’t be too stressful. Your menu looks good!

  2. I can’t get over how organized you are. I think I’d be in an absolute frenzy if I was trying to host a holiday meal! These menu items sound AMAZING. Can I join? You’re giving me inspiration for the items I should be bringing to Thanksgiving dinner!

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