Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays. From the cooking and baking, to seeing my home filled with all my family and friends, nothing fills my cup more than being the hostess of the holiday.
But as the big day draws ever closer, the scramble of planning meals, shopping for ingredients, managing the RSVPs, and juggling special diets and food allergies can take away from the spirit of the season. Heading into the holidays with an organized plan can help you avoid overwhelm, burnout, and hosting fatigue.
In the words of iconic singer/song-writer Dr. Taylor Alison Swift, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So here are a few tips to help you plan your Thanksgiving celebration using Evernote! Special thanks to Thanksgiving Connoisseur and Evernote Expert Kyle DeMilo for providing us with his Expert tips.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T the R.S.V.P.
The most logical place to start with planning a Thanksgiving celebration is to figure out who will be attending. It doesn’t have to be as formal as mailing out invitations, but do your best to get a good idea of who is coming and, more importantly, who has dietary restrictions. This critical detail will inform every other aspect of your event, from how many place settings to put out, to how big of a turkey to buy, to what sides you should put on the menu.
- Send your invites via email so you can forward any responses straight into your Evernote account for reference and safe keeping. When you receive a reply to your email, simply click the Forward option and send the email to the unique email address found in your Evernote account settings. The email will appear in your account as a new note!
- Create a note detailing who is planning on joining, who volunteered to bring a dish, and any special food or beverage considerations you definitely need to know about. Between Cousin Chad doing Keto for his CrossFit competition, Aunt Sherry bringing her new boyfriend with a mild nut allergy, and your nephew Andrew who is exclusively eating dinosaur nuggets right now, you’re taking a big risk if you don’t write all that down.
- Now that you know who’s attending, you can draw a seating chart inside your note using Sketch, to arrange everyone that needs to be separated and who ends up at the kids’ table. The grandkids may love their Grandpa, but Fortnite and “back in my day” stories just don’t mix.
Gobble ’til you wobble
Once you have a good idea of who’s showing up, the second most important step to every Thanksgiving celebration is the food! No matter how you slice it, arranging your menu is the most critical task on your to-do list. To make it as easy as possible for you, follow this step-by-step breakdown to prepare for your feast:
- Browse the web for all the tasty recipes you plan to dish out. Use Web Clipper to save those recipes you might want to make straight into your Evernote account. Don’t hesitate to go overboard with clipping either! Even if you aren’t going to make the recipe this time, you will have it easily accessible down the road.
- Create a note with a list of all the dishes you need for your feast, noting the serving sizes, etc. This will help you get the big picture of all the ingredients you’ll need to shop for.
- If you aren’t planning on making all the dishes yourself, simply assign the task to your guests! If Granny Rose is going to bring the cornbread, she can see the task in her email (even if she doesn’t use Evernote) and mark it complete.
- Expert tip: Now that you’ve narrowed down the dishes you’re making, it’s time to build your grocery list. Since Evernote syncs with your mobile device, you’ll effortlessly have that list with you in the supermarket. No more forgotten cranberries this year! For more tips on making a grocery list with Evernote, check out this blog!
I’m so busy, you already know.
Guest list: check. Menu: check. Now you know exactly what you need to do, and when you need to do it, but have you ever just stopped and stared amid the chaos, feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Having a simple game plan is all you need to stay grounded, on track, and stress-free.
- Make a task list in Evernote of all the things you need to do. Start early, and add tasks as they come up to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. You can add due dates as well as times to help you keep track of exactly when to go grocery shopping, what time to pick up Meemaw, or when to turn on the football game.
- Consider how much time each dish will take to prep and cook, so you can prioritize your day of cooking. Identify what you can make in the days before your celebration to help reduce the amount you need to cook on the big day.
- Anticipate the needs of your guests so you encounter less distractions when you are at your busiest. Avoid getting ‘hangry’ by having snacks ready to go. No one likes a grumpy toddler—or millennial!
- Speaking of which, another great task to do ahead of time is put together an “emergency” basket with things like Advil, Tums, and bandaids.
- Expert tip: Sync your Google Calendar with Evernote, so you’ll know when your guests will arrive from out of town. Add the calendar widget to Home and you’ll have a heads-up just in time to make up the guest room for dear Aunt Ruth and her emotional support chinchilla.
- Expert tip: Write out your Thanksgiving Toast in Evernote so you don’t forget anything you wanted to say. Simply grab the note from your phone and read from the heart!
Got my mind on my meal and my meal on my mind
The food is done, the table is set. You handled the heat, but now it’s time to get out of the kitchen and celebrate! What happens next is as important as everything that’s come before. These final tips will make your next Thanksgiving better than ever.
Picture this: you take in your first big bite of turkey and then realize it’s a bit too salty, or you hear your mother-in-law Linda from across the table actually complimenting your cranberry sauce. Here’s what you’ll need to remember, but what you are most likely to forget:
- Open your turkey recipe in Evernote so you can add a note to use a little less salt next time. Then point out on the cranberry sauce recipe that is was great and not to change a thing! The only thing Linda loves more than her son is some good old-fashioned consistency.
- Take note at the end of dinner which dishes or silverware didn’t get used. Save on clean up next year by only setting out what you know gets used. (Sorry, Great-Aunt Violet, but you were the only one who used the seafood fork!)
- Inventory how much is leftover at the end of the meal. While there’s no doubt that Thanksgiving meal leftovers are the best leftovers in existence, you can only eat so much gravy-soaked potatoes and turkey. Also make a note of anything that ran out too quickly. (We saw you sneaking those dinner rolls, CrossFit Chad.)
- Expert tip: Snap photos of the wine bottles your mother-in-law drinks and store them in Evernote. Add tasting notes to it, so if you can’t find an exact match, you can at least get something from a similar vintage. Next time you go for a visit, you won’t show up empty-handed (or a disappointment).
- Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Your feast was incredible! At this point, it’s inevitable that someone will ask for a copy of a recipe. As long as they don’t ask for the secret baked beans recipe, you can easily email your note to them from Evernote. They don’t have to have Evernote to get the recipe either, since sending as an email makes the note title the subject line, and the note contents the body of the email!
With these hot tips, your Thanksgiving celebration will be the talk of the family throughout the year. And when it comes time to plan your celebration next year, you’re sure to be thankful for Evernote. Save your recipes for Thanksgiving and every celebration in between with this Digital Recipe Card template.