How to make the BEST Thanksgiving Plan

WhatMomsMake is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program along with other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by putting links to companies in my blog posts.

Every year I try to simplify my hosting process for Thanksgiving even more. And this year’s Thanksgiving plan takes the cake.

I’m pretty sure I have it down to a science now and I want to share that with you!

Whether this is your first year or your 20th year, let’s make your process better so you don’t end up with any mishaps.

Like a half-cooked turkey (my first year making it) or an overcooked turkey (like the year I accidentally had my thermometer on Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.) I can still taste how dry that turkey was.

Using Trello to Plan your Thanksgiving week

Notice I didn’t say day? 

I start cooking and prepping on Monday– don’t worry it’s all food that can be frozen– that way when Thursday rolls around my workload is a whole lot less and I can get dinner on the table at the time I actually said it would be.

This is why I love Trello. I can put everything in it, including checklists for each day of what needs to be done.

Layout of Trello Thanksgiving Board




How to set up your Trello Board

You’re going to want to put everything you can think of on this board (and yours may look different than mine depending on your needs)

Here are the lists I have on my board currently (and I’ll break all these down below):

  • Guest List
  • Appetizers
  • Main Course
  • Dessert
  • Decor
  • To Make Ahead
  • Grocery List

Other options you may want to add:

  • What people are bringing
  • Chores to get done
  • Drinks (We always delegate this to someone coming so I don’t add it.)

The Guest List

thanksgiving guest list

This list contains everyone that you want to send an invitation to. And once invited you can make a label for who is or isn’t coming. 

You can update this list with labels when people begin to RSVP. (This is shown below)

Create your Thanksgiving Menu

I have this list broken down by appetizers, Main Course and Dessert

Thanksgiving dishes

Don’t forget to have food for people when they start arriving! Thanksgiving is about giving thanks- but it’s also about eating.

Thanksgiving Appetizers

We like to keep our appetizer list relatively small. We may decide to add chips and dip while we’re grocery shopping!

Our main course dishes are of course the longest list. I love making everything from scratch so planning ahead and prepping during the week certainly takes the load off of the big day!


And finally desserts. It’s my favorite part of the day (besides the mac and cheese). Most of these I make while prepping during the week and only make a couple the day of.

Thanksgiving dessert

Want to start your New Year off right? Here’s a 30 Day Bible Reading Plan


Thanksgiving Decor

This is where I plan out how I’m going to decorate spaces. Especially the table. If I need to pick anything up to add to the decor it will be added to this list. 

Thanksgiving decor

Mine is empty as of right now because it hasn’t been planned.

How to plan your week to prep for the big Thanksgiving day

This is one of my favorite reasons why I use Trello as my Thanksgiving menu planner. I break each day down and add a checklist of what needs to be cooked or prepped each day.

Wednesday Thanksgiving Menu Prep

Here’s what it looks like when I open each card:

Monday Thanksgiving Menu Prep

On Monday’s I make what I can freeze ahead. And once something is done I can check it off the list. It’s also a great way to add notes on what I need to do that day.

If there are any items you can make ahead and freeze, Monday is the best day to get this done. 

Monday Thanksgiving Plan

Tuesday Thanksgiving Menu Prep

On Tuesdays, I make food that will still be good on Thursday. 

If you have any food that you can cut up that will last until Thursday, Tuesday is the day to do it.

I also make my sweet potato pies on this day because I like to eat them cold. They can be covered and chill in the fridge until Thursday evening.

Tuesday Thanksgiving Prep

Wednesday Thanksgiving Menu Prep

Wednesday is when I get the bulk of my prep work done. I cook a large meal on Thanksgiving and so Wednesdays I spend all day in the kitchen.

This is the day when I start my turkey brine and brine it overnight so that it is ready to cook the next day.

I also boil my eggs for the deviled eggs appetizer the next day.

I use cans for my fruit salad, just to make life easier, and I make sure they are in the fridge since fruit salad is usually what I quickly put together at the last minute and it needs to be cold. (Side note- I forgot the fruit salad in the fridge the last two Thanksgivings I hosted lol)

I peel my sweet potatoes and carrots and let them soak in water so that they don’t dry out and put them in the fridge.

And I also prep for breakfast the next morning. I want my kitchen clean and clear and focused on dinner on Thursday.

I make sure that at the end of Wednesday night all of the dishes are clean- counters are clean and clear and ready for the next day.

Wednesday Thanksgiving Menu Prep

How to Organize Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday

Alright, let’s break this down.

First I list out EVERYTHING that needs to be cooked on Thursday.

Then I break that down by how long each dish takes to make. Once I buy my turkey and know how much it weighs I add that time also.

In the checklist, you can move items up and down. I use this feature to order what I do with my time.

As I drill this down and get closer to the Big Day I’ll add in notes of what time I need to start cooking.

For the record- although I know how to cook all this food, gravy is at the bottom of my list because I still haven’t figured it out. That’s right- I’ve cooked countless Thanksgiving dinners and I mess up the simplest dish every single year! So if gravy is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner don’t show up at my house because it’s guaranteed to be ruined haha! (if you have a tried and true gravy recipe leave it in the comments below because your girl needs help).


How to structure your Thanksgiving Grocery List

Once you know what your Thanksgiving menu will include you can begin to plan out your grocery list. 

This can be done a couple of different ways:

  • You can list each item in cards under your grocery list
  • You can create one card for your grocery list and add a checklist inside for your groceries
  • You can create separate cards by grocery store sections: for example produce, meat, dairy etc.

Thanksgiving grocery list

Adding Labels to your cards

I like to mark everything complete and also note who is and isn’t coming.

So I create labels in the menu portion of my board to add to my cards.

Labels for thanksgiving

And once people begin to tell me they can or cannot come I will update their cards with labels. 

TIP:  if anyone tells you they have allergies or food restrictions or if they are bringing something you can add that into the description of their card.


By using this Thanksgiving planning guide you can take most of the stress out of Thanksgiving. Full disclosure- this doesn’t solve family drama or cooking mishaps but it will help you make a flawless plan! If what needs to be done is written out and broken down it can simplify your entire week!

In the business of this season, it can be hard to find quiet time with God. Take my FREE 5-day S.E.L.A.H. Method Email Course.


8 thoughts on “How to make the BEST Thanksgiving Plan”

  1. I LOVE Trello and I LOVE seeing how other people use it! This is great. I like how you use the labels to show the status of your guest list. I’m going to modify that for some other lists. Thanks for sharing your screenshots!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy