How to Plan a Holiday Menu

woman reading cookbook

Hosting a holiday dinner seems like a coming of age moment to me. Decorating the table, planning your menu, boastfully sharing your home cooked meal with your loved ones – all those Hallmark movie moments! Of course, not pictured in my dreams of hosting family dinner is the chaos that goes into shopping, cooking, and cleaning for said picturesque moments.

This Thanksgiving it’s my turn. We’ve opened our home up as hosts before but this year is my first preparing the whole meal. I’m super excited because I love to cook and with my cookbook collection continuing to grow narrowing down what recipes I’ll choose is the tough part.

Here’s the catch. I’m a terrible planner. Because of that I’ve been known to cram everything into the day of and, again not pictured in my hallmark movie moments, is the fatigue that goes with lack of planning.

Are you like me?

Or do you already have the ingredients you need ready to begin prepping in advance? But, if you are like me, have no fear – download my Holiday Menu Planner!

OK, this still requires more prep than I’m accustomed to but to fulfill my Hallmark movie dreams of family photos where I’ve actually found time to put on makeup I’m getting organized.

I often will find recipes I want to make while reading cookbooks and then when the time comes completely forget what that recipe is or where it was from. Better yet, I’ve gotten home from the grocery store only to realize I forgot a key ingredient. Nice work!

My Holiday Menu Planner is a game changer (and it’s cute so sticking it on the fridge is perfectly acceptable). I’ve included space to plan out each course, record where the recipe and where it is from, and space to jot down what ingredients you’ll need. Lastly, to make sure there’s no chance you’re running out to the grocery store twice there is space to write a complete shopping list.

holiday menu planner page one

So, where to begin planning your holiday menu?

Download and Print the Holiday Menu Planner

Before you start searching for recipes have the Holiday Menu Planner on hand so you can record as you go.

Grab your Favourite Cookbooks

I’m a huge cookbook nerd and genuinely enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading the recipes but there’s also Pinterest and cooking websites. Pinterest is basically Pandora’s box of recipes. Once you get in there nailing down what you’re actually going to make it the hard part.

This year I’m pulling recipes from Fraiche Food, Full Hearts by Jillian Harris & Tori Wesszer, The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright, and Celebrations by Danielle Walker

Stay tuned for which recipes I choose on my Instagram stories this week!

Think about your Guests

For me, that includes adults and toddlers so I’m choosing dishes that will satisfy both and offering a variety.

Check your Pantry & Fridge before Shopping

Again, I’m notorious for forgetting items but I’ve also been known to have 3 cans of pureed pumpkin because I bought another. The ‘Ingredients I need’ section and the Shopping List is key for avoiding this.

holiday menu planner page two

Plan Ahead

Thanks Captain Obvious! But it’s true. My plan is to shop on Monday of the week leading up to the date I’m hosting so I can quickly make meals ahead of time because I’ll have all the ingredients on hand. Juggling two kids, a blog, and cooking means gone are the days of prepping the day of. Plus, that leaves more time to enjoy our company with a glass of wine.

I’m so excited to share some of my favourite recipes with my family as the host this year. I want to make one small change to the Hallmark movie moment we see often: mom stuck in the kitchen while everyone else socializes. Planning ahead and having everything I need laid out means I’ll be able to sip the cocktails (I’m thinking mulled wine and apple cider) with my family.

Download your Holiday Menu Planner HERE! I would love to see your holiday menu! If you do use the Holiday Menu Planner tag me @simplysagemandy on Instagram!

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