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Creating a Game Plan for Your Next Dinner Party

Creating a game plan for your next dinner helps you effectively and productively manage your time, so you can effortlessly host your people in your home!

Years ago when I was planning ahead for Thanksgiving I remember that I always had lots of lists.

I would have an ingredient list, a grocery list, a guest list, and a recipe list—then I got really smart and decided to combine them all into one list.

That is where this game plan was born! 

Creating a game plan starts with a simple humble piece of notebook paper. 

Creating a Game Plan for Your Next Dinner Party—

On the left-hand column, I write down everything I’m serving. 

The name of the recipe, and the main ingredients that are needed. 

The ingredients that I’m not sure I have on hand, or the ones that I definitely need to remember. Not usually salt and pepper, olive oil, butter, or anything like that. 

Then I will head into my pantry or my fridge and take stock of what I have and what I need to purchase which then goes in on the right-hand side in the margin. 

You’ll notice that on this piece of notebook paper it looks like I folded over the margin and I did just create a line for myself, and make it slightly larger. 

So I start making my grocery list on the right side. 

At the bottom of the page, I put the timeline for the event. 

I like to have a timeline of when we’re eating and work backward from there. 

Working backward from dinner time helps you to plan out your time effectively! 


So flip over this piece of paper…

And you’ll find that I have decor items that I need for my table and you’ll find a mock table.

Using little Post-It notes, I’ll put the guests’ names and where I want them to sit. 

You’ll also find a box for who is coming and what they are bringing. 

This is helpful to remember that I don’t need to make certain recipes because guests are bringing them. ((It’s also a good way to remind them of what they are bringing or what they said they would bring! Has that ever happened to you, where you said you would bring something and then you have to call the house and ask her what was that thing you said you were going to bring!?))

Why this game plan is so helpful is because it keeps you on track to be the most effective host that you can be! 

thanksgiving side dish recipe ideas

Time management is so important in hosting, and that starts with good list building habits! 

When you have a firm list, you basically just follow the plan and work it!  

As you create your timeline think about exactly how long it will take you to do certain tasks.

Some things that I like to do ahead of time: 

Setting the table. I am lucky enough to have two tables where we can set one ahead of Thanksgiving or whatever event I’m hosting and I like to set the table at least a few days ahead of time. 

This also gives me time to let it sit there and make sure everything looks okay, or if somebody cancels at the last minute or a last-minute person decides to come I can change it. 

The other thing I like to do ahead of time a few days in advance is gathering all the serving supplies

Any platter and serving utensils I’ll group together.  I will put a sticky note on each of those and combine them together. So the turkey platter and serving fork all go on the one big platter with a sticky note that says what it’s for. 

Then I will set these off to the side where I can find them easily. 

One thing about labeling your platters, this is so helpful when you are in the middle of cooking and pulling things out of the oven, plating, and almost ready to serve. 

labeling platters for thanksgiving

When someone walks in your home and asks “Hey Ash, what can I do?” you can say “hey go grab the platter and fill it up there’s a label on it it’ll tell you what to put on” and it has the serving utensils with it, it makes for a really easy way of letting others help you. 

One more thing I like to do a couple of days ahead of time is clean all the bathrooms really well. Go ahead and dust and vacuum the rest of your house making sure it’s really neat and tidy. You can keep it up for a couple of days and it’ll help you in the long run on the day of to not have to do any deep cleaning. 

thanksgiving menu plan

Recipes you can make ahead of time are really helpful for the day of cooking especially for Thanksgiving. 

Things you can do ahead of time, that just make sense:

  • Cut up your onion and celery and store it in an air-tight container.
  • Pull your bread for dressing, and keep in a ziptop baggie.
  • Pre-bake your sweet potatoes
  • Bake all your baked goods a couple of days ahead.

If you need some Thanksgiving recipes, I’ve got you! Click on over for a Thanksgiving Dinner Menu, all ready for you!

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