Game Time

November 2019 View more

A Rockwell-esque holiday—and not the fiasco at the Christmas Vacation table—requires planning. Project management is key, and the best party planners begin weeks in advance. Having a strategy is non-negotiable, but our timeline is meant to be customized for your holiday, in volume and speed. The timeline below makes some assumptions: 12 guests who arrive at 3 p.m., dinner at 4 p.m., dessert at 5 p.m. 


  • Confirm guest list to ensure you have enough chairs, linens, place settings, etc.; buy table decor, glassware, and utensils, if needed.
  • Order turkey to be picked up on Tuesday, November 26.  
  • Finalize the menu, order place card supplies and flowers for centerpiece.


  • Get tables, chairs, dishes, and linens out of storage; clean and/or iron if necessary.
  • Give the house a first-floor overhaul; start staging rooms.
  • Purchase nonperishable groceries and table wine. 
  • Finalize grocery list and clean out pantry and refrigerator.
  • Make seating chart and place cards, then finalize timeline. 


  • Cut and cube bread for stuffing.
  • Assemble pots, pans, and serving dishes.
  • Make cranberry-apple relish to give flavors time to develop.
  • Pick up fresh turkey and purchase perishables. 


  • Make dough for rolls and prepare dessert.
  • Set table, prepare bar, and prep appetizers.
  • Prepare potatoes and squash.


9:00 a.m. – Prepare stuffing for bird (or casserole dish).  
10:00 a.m. – Remove turkey from refrigerator and prep.
11:00 a.m. – Chill drinks, prep coffee, and preheat oven.
11:30 a.m. – Put turkey in oven and whip cream for dessert.
12:00 p.m. – Clean counters, do dishes, tidy first floor, and open wine. Remove cranberry relish and butter from refrigerator to achieve room temperature.
3:00 p.m. – Take coats and make drinks as guests arrive.
3:30 p.m. – Check temperature of turkey at thigh; when 165 degrees remove from oven and let rest. Finish vegetable dishes.
3:45 p.m. – Fill water glasses, light candles, remove rolls from oven, place stuffing in serving dish, carve turkey.
4:00 p.m. – Place dishes on table and enjoy time with family.
4:30 p.m. – Preheat oven for dessert.
4:45 p.m. – Put cobbler in the oven and start coffee.
5:00 p.m. – Serve dessert with ice cream.

Photography by Regan Baroni + Olivia Kohler