I really like Thanksgiving Week. Not just because I get to enjoy a big meal with so many people I love, but also because I really love having a good reason to do all the tasks that go along with Thanksgiving prep. I realize not everyone gets a kick out of stuff like this, but from time to time, it’s totally my thing.

I love taking an inventory of our dishes and flatware and linens. I love thinking about a centerpiece and about what I’ll put in the entry to greet guests. I love giving the house a deep clean — not just for Thanksgiving, but as a backdrop for December and the whole holiday season.

I love planning the menu with the kids and reminiscing about favorite desserts we’ve served. And I love reading our notes from the years we celebrated Thanksgiving in France, and how excited we were when my sister found fresh cranberries to bring!

Over the years, I’ve learned I function best if I spread out the preparations throughout the week, so that I don’t get overwhelmed. Though some years I get overwhelmed anyway. Did you see this video? I laughed so hard! It’s like a documentary of my life. “I need a bird feeder in every window!” Hah!

In addition to cleaning the house, here’s how I’m doing Thanksgiving prep this year:

– Last week, I ordered a few additional plates and additional flatware.

– Over the weekend, Ben Blair did round one of the grocery shopping — picking up any non-perishables we need for Thanksgiving day.

– Today, I’m ironing the linens and figuring out an activity for the kids table.

– Tuesday, I’m buying supplies for the centerpiece, and I’m setting up the front entry display — something Thanksgiving-y to welcome guests. We’ll do the shopping for the rest of our dinner ingredients too.

– Wednesday, we’ll do some pre-cooking. We’ll prep the crab cakes, two of the desserts and one of the side dishes. Technically, we could do all the cooking on Thursday because we don’t eat till 2:00 or 3:00. But we like to go on a family walk around Lake Merritt on Thanksgiving morning. Doing some prep on Wednesday makes that walk doable. No doubt we’ll also need to run to the grocery store for something we’ve forgotten.

– Then on Thursday, we’ll cook the rest. Like most people, we have one oven, and it is required to do a lot of juggling that day, so I like to write down a rough cooking schedule for Thursday, just to make sure I actually have time and oven space to cook everything we want to cook. : )

The kids are out of school all week, which means I have lots of potential helpers, so this schedule feels pretty doable to me. But then again, I won’t be surprised if we have to move stuff around. That’s normal at our house.

How about you? Do you like the sort of tasks that come with Thanksgiving week? Or is “taking inventory of the linens” the stuff of nightmares for you? Are you cooking this year? Maybe bringing a side dish to the feast? Or are you’re hosting this year? If you have a particularly busy week of work and school, how are you handling the grocery shopping? We’ve definitely had some very last minute years! And no doubt there are many of you who are traveling this week — does Thanksgiving for you mean suitcases and plane tickets? I always love hearing your stories.


Photo by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom — learn how to perfectly roast a turkey here.