Thanksgiving Day: Stress Free Hacks & Printables (for kids & for Mom!)

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Thanksgiving Day Secrets!

Two nights before hosting my very first Thanksgiving Day spread, I hit panic mode – I literally didn’t sleep for 48 hours. I didn’t know how to cook a turkey, and I’d never made homemade dressing by myself.  How would it all get cooked with one little oven?  Ekkk!  Since then, I’ve created a few hacks and printables to create a fun, less stressful Thanksgiving Day (the whole week actually) with the ones we love …..

AMAZING Thanksgiving Day Hacks & Printables for Kids AND the Cook!

Thoughts of pulling off a Thanksgiving Day shindig can make you want to curl up into the fetal position, but wait! it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a deep breath, honey, because I’ve got you.

Secret #1  Pick yo Food & Folks

Find out how many folks are planning to show up on Thanksgiving Day.  On your Thanksgiving Meal Planner (that you printed from the link above), pencil in what meats you want to serve.  Plan for two pounds per adult and one pound per child (will have leftovers!).  If you’ll be serving turkey for ten adults, you’ll need a 20-pound bird.  Or two, 10-pound turkeys that you could roast side by side.

Guess what?  You don’t have to cook a turkey!  Since we’ll have a house full of folks for days, we will probably have turkey, ham, AND a boston butt.  No big deal:  I’ll roast turkey in oven, make a sugar-glazed ham in the crock pot, and Superman will smoke a boston butt outside (those recipes are coming).

At the top of the meat column, pencil in how many pounds of meat you think you will need.  Beside the meat that you have chosen to serve, leave room beside eat type of meat to write a name.

Secret #2  Ask & you shall receive

When your guests offer to bring a dish on Thanksgiving Day, you should say, “Sure!” and ask them if they want to bring a meat, side, or a sweet.  Don’t you be shy, honey.  The more food brought by others means less stress on you.

You know what else?  If roasting a turkey stresses you out to the heavens, order that sucker pre-cooked from the grocery store.  Just get it ordered as soon as possible.  It’s OK.  With that stress out of the way, you can focus on your famous pecan pie (or whatever you like to make).

If your guests haven’t offered to bring a dish yet, it is not rude to shoot them a text and say, “Hey, do you mind bringing a vegetable on Thanksgiving Day?”  Be sure to write what food everyone is bringing and their name beside it on your planner.  This will allow you to simply look at your list and determine if there are any gaps that you need to fill.

Secret #3  Use that planner

Now you know how many pounds of meat to serve and all the other foods that will be served with it.  Remember, if you don’t have guest names beside foods in your columns, you need to ask others to help.  Remind them to bring their dish as warm as possible and to bring serving utensils as well.

At a glance, you can see on your planner what you will prepare for Thanksgiving Day.  Go through each dish and write the ingredients needed (with a pencil) on the back of your planner.  Go through your freezer, fridge, and pantry to search for those ingredients.  When you find them, erase off of your list.  What remains will be your grocery store list.

Secret #4  Use the weekend to shop alone

Plan a grocery store shopping trip the weekend before Thanksgiving and go alone if there is any way possible.  You’ve got your grocery list on the back of your planner and you are set to go.  Make it a fun excursion by buying yourself a fancy coffee while in the store or after you finish.  Caffeine is golden!

When you unload your haul, freeze the meat and any other items that need it.  I’ll have instructions for those items this coming Monday.  Try to keep your pantry items for Thanksgiving Day together if possible.

Secret #5  Sage advice

Get it?  Sage.  Anyhoo, because I’m always thinking of how to make your life brighter and easier, I asked a few of my bloggy friends to share their Thanksgiving wisdom.  Here’s their advice:

Let Whole Foods help you cook “the” Dinner

Give your recipes a healthy but tasty spin

Thanks to my online friends for sharing their extra tips with us.

I’m also sharing our secret Thanksgiving recipes in the coming days with a bird’s eye view (get it?) of exactly what we are cooking Thanksgiving Day.

Here’s our menu

  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Boston Butt
  • Dressing
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Rolls
  • Pecan Pie
  • Apple Pie
  • Cheesecake

I know, it’s obnoxious.  So much food.  

I’m in a family of carnivores, you know.  Seriously,  I pray that these secrets help you have a more enjoyable, stress-free Thanksgiving Day, hon.’

What do you look most forward to on Thanksgiving Day?

Printables for kids AND Mom


Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️



  1. Gloryanna
    November 18, 2016 / 9:52 am

    The “ask and receive” part is SO TRUE! I think many miss the importance of this one thing–to let go of some control and let others chip in!

  2. Sabrina Quairoli
    November 18, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    Great tips! I prefer to go to the the grocery store on Sunday before and only go to get the turkey two days before Thanksgiving. I prefer not to go to the store the day before thanksgiving. It’s just not worth the hassle.

  3. Mamaguru
    November 18, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Great tips! I think it’s really important to take control of your holidays, so that they can be simple, meaningful and stress free.

  4. Elizabeth - CrazyBusyHappyLife
    November 18, 2016 / 7:14 pm

    I love all these! Just pinned 🙂

  5. Dawn
    November 18, 2016 / 9:55 pm

    Planning ahead and accepting help are HUGE. You always want to do it all yourself the first time, then you quickly learn that doesn’t work. And if you don’t plan, good luck winging it 🙂 Thanks for sharing this great advice 🙂

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