Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Feeling Thankful

We often take for granted the smaller, both tangible and non-tangible, things in our lives. Especially in these winter months, with the hustle-and-bustle of holidays beginning, we forget to take pause and appreciate the important people, things and moments around us.

Thanksgiving is a natural prompt to think about what you are grateful for and an opportunity for you to share your thanks with others. This year, as you come together with your family and friends to feast and celebrate, we hope you will think about what you are thankful for.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to share what we’re feeling thankful for this year!

Bri… I’m thankful for our readers! Thank you to everyone who supports our blog. It’s a fun project for us and we hope you’ll continue to get as much joy out of the content as we do putting it together for you. As always, we welcome your feedback on what you’d like to see more -or less- of in this blog. Thank you, again!

Kristi… I’m thankful for the time that I’m able to share with my best friends and blog partners, Meredith and Bri. Like our readers, our lives are filled to the brim with commitments and responsibilities (not to mention geographical barriers). Time is often hard to come by in our day-to-day schedules. The blog is not only a creative outlet for me, but treasured time where I’m able to connect with two of my best friends.

Mere… Love. This may sound cheesy, but it is completely true. This year, I am feeling especially grateful for the love I have felt from family and friends. With my wedding on the horizon, I have felt incredible amounts love at each celebratory moment. I am especially thankful for the love and friendship from fellow TK bloggers and high school bestie’s Bri and Kristi!

Thankful 2

What are you feeling thankful for? We hope you’ll share your gratitude with us!

Hosting My First Thanksgiving Dinner

I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I have to admit that it was a success! I was a little nervous being the hostess leading up to Turkey Day, but I embraced the symbolic passing of the carving knife from my mother to me, and began planning.

I’ve always described myself as a planner and I love hosting family and friends in my home. Prior to this event, I’ve typically made lists a few days or even a week in advance, but with the pressure of hosting Thanksgiving and the decisions in front me (Yams or Sweet Potatoes? Apple or Pumpkin Pie?), I made an effort to take my planning and preparation to a new level. In the days leading up to Turkey Day, I realized something very important, regardless of what you’re serving, one thing’s for sure, if you plan everything in advance, the big day will be smooth and stress-free.

Everyone recommends (family, friends, Ina and Giada) doing as much food prep as you can in advance. This is certainly the ideal, however as a working girl, this isn’t always feasible. For example, I read that pie dough can be made up to three days in advance of baking. Unfortunately, my dough did not get made until the day before my big dinner. Although only one day in advance, it certainly helped to have some things checked off on Thanksgiving-Eve.

The most important thing I learned from hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner was to create a timeline. Creating a timeline not only minimizes personal stress but it can maximize how enjoyable your event is (to both you and your guests)….Here is my timeline from Turkey Day!

Three Weeks Before
Gather ideas for Thanksgiving dinner.
Start reading blogs and perusing cookbooks. I also suggest ordering a book that was recommended to me by a dear friend: Thanksgiving by Sam Sifton. This book was a lifesaver—it walked me through everything I needed to know about pulling off my first Thanksgiving dinner without a hitch.

Two Weeks Before
Plan a menu.
I have a recipe binder and collect recipes throughout the year. I try to categorize them as I add them, so as to eliminate excessive leafing through recipes as I plan my menu. For Thanksgiving, I found the recipes that sounded more delicious and festive.

Order a turkey. I decided on a fresh, heritage bird and placed the order to be picked up Wednesday morning.

One Week Before
Get organized by making lots of lists.
Make a grocery list and arrange the ingredients on the list by their location in the store. If you are shopping a multiple stores (like me), make a list for each store.

Plan a table setting. This is the perfect time to pull out special family pieces and add festive touches of your own. Make sure that your tablecloth and napkins are clean. If you are planning for a large group, I suggest making place cards—assigned seating may stimulate conversation among your guests.

Prepare your kitchen. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry to make room for the groceries and the turkey. Also, take stock of your kitchen tools and tableware to make sure that you have all that is needed.

Make a cooking plan and timeline. Figure out what dishes need to go into the oven and at what temperature. Planning the timeline was the trickiest part for me. I suggest working backwards, starting from the time you plan serve dinner.

The Sunday Before
Purchase the groceries.
Prepare yourself for the madhouse that grocery stores will be and remind yourself to breath when fighting for a parking spot. Remember that Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful.

Take out serving dishes. Now is the time to bring out those special, rarely used pieces. Write the name of each dish on a post-it and place it inside the serving vessel.

The Day Before
Cook in advance.
I know that the “day before” is not advance for many, but for the full-time working girl, it is for me. Make pie dough, make cranberry sauce, and chop vegetables (place in plastic bowls and cover with plastic wrap or lids and refrigerate.

Pick up the turkey. If you are cooking a fresh turkey, pick it up from the market. While there, shop for remaining groceries and any last minute items. Don’t forget to get the makings for turkey sandwiches for the next day!

Set the table.

Thanksgiving Day
Prep the turkey.
Remove the turkey from the fridge in the morning, so it has time to come to room temperature. Put your herbs and spices aside so that they are easily accessible.

Start cooking. Make the stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans and complete the apple pie. While the turkey is resting (to be carved), make the gravy.

Chill the wine and cocktails.

Serve dinner. Give yourself a pat on the back and graciously accept compliments. Enjoy your meal and have a fabulous time!

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Hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year was definitely a milestone for this hostess, and with the help of creating a timeline, I rocked it! Whether you’re hosting your family for a holiday dinner (Christmas will be here before you know it!) or a group of friends to celebrate a birthday, planning a timeline can be an effective way or organizing all aspects of hosting your event.

Here is a printable version of our Holiday Timeline – we hope it helps you plan your next event!

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Happy organizing!

A Stress Free Holiday Starts Here

Th2014-11-25 10_26_16-2014-11-25 10_24_43-BonnieDewkett1 - Paint - Paintis week’s guest blog post comes to us from Bonnie Dewkett, a certified professional organizer who began organizing as a child, and she has been organizing ever since. Her company, The Joyful Organizer, creates and implements organizational systems for the home and office. Passionate about helping others meet their organizational goals, Bonnie loves to see the positive impact that getting organized has on people’s lives.


The holidays are rough. Yes, they are filled with parties, family and friends, food and fun. However, they are often the cause of a lot of stress. If you don’t read anything else this holiday season, read this quick and easy guide to having a stress free holiday!

1. Check your wrapping paper inventory BEFORE you sit down to wrap. So often people sit down to wrap and have nothing OR (and this is even worse!) buy lots of stuff at the store because they don’t know what they have on hand at home.

Wrapping Paper

2. Instead of hostess gifts, have your guests bring canned goods that can be donated to a local food bank. People are relieved to not have to think creatively AND you can make an impact in your community.

3. Ornament, tree, wreath and light organizers are usually only readily available BEFORE the holiday. So while you aren’t thinking about long term storage right now, pick them up throughout the year when you see them (if you need them). Not only are they specialized for the items they are designed to hold, but they are also often holiday themed so you can easily identify them in the storage areas of your home.

ChristmasTree

4. Create an emergency present bin so you are never caught empty handed. It’s even better if you buy items that you can use after if you don’t end up giving them out. Great items to include are gift cards (iTunes and Starbucks), candles, candy, cookbooks and soaps or lotions.

5. Hire a house cleaner. You are going to be shopping, planning, and cooking up a storm. Treat yourself and have someone clean the house for you. Schedule well in advance for your party or event.

6. If you can’t get around to cleaning, make sure you spend a few minutes on the front doorstep. Step outside with a broom and clean off spider webs, bugs and dust from the lights. Sweep the step and shake out the mat. It will make a great first impression.

7. If you have kids coming to your gathering or party, have an activity on hand. A movie will do, but games and art supplies may keep them entertained longer. If you really want some adult time, hire a college student home on break as a babysitter for a few hours.

8. Buy a self inking address stamp. This makes the card process go much faster. AND kids love to stamp. Set them up at a table with your pile of envelopes. Don’t try to lick all the envelopes! Use a moistened sponge or a specialized envelope moistener (yes, those exist).

9. Set a casual dress code. Everyone gets dressed up for the holidays and with all of the financial commitments and stress going around, make your party easy and comfortable with a casual dress code. OR, if you feel like having a little fun, make it a Christmas pajama party!

10. Share the cooking. Everyone wants to bring something, so let them! Have your guests bring a side dish, plate of cookies, etc. Let go a little bit and enjoy the variety! Make sure you have vegan, nut free and vegetarian options on hand. If you know guests with those dietary guidelines, ask them in advance for expertise.

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Additional resources:

Download a free Gift-Buying Worksheet here.

Download a checklist for Christmas Dinner here.

Download a list of Fun Christmas Activities here.

For more information, visit The Joyful Organizer website or email info@thejoyfulorganizer.com.