This article was originally published last November, but I decided to pull it up again as a part of our Fall/Holiday series. With the newest addition to our family due in just a couple weeks, this is going to be even more beneficial this year. I’ll be able to pull out that list and pass it along to any family members who are helping out with our Thanksgiving preparations this year…

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I had something entirely different planned for today’s post, but as I sat down over the weekend to begin finalize my Thanksgiving planning, I uncovered a Thanksgiving-related habit that I wanted to share.

I believe this is the 6th year that we have hosted our family’s Thanksgiving celebration. Each year about this time, I start making lists. Guest lists. Menu lists. Grocery lists. To-do lists. And so on. And every year I find myself straining my already-strained brain trying to remember last Thanksgiving and what worked and what didn’t.

This year started out a bit different for me because I found the Thanksgiving planning list that I made last year on the computer. In five minutes, without any brain-strain whatsoever, I was able to review and update what we did last year from what we ate to the centerpieces on the table to which bowls/platters/pots & pans I used to prepare and serve each item. I had also included a few notes to my future self, like “filling for 6 pumpkin pies will just barely fit in the big yellow bowl.” An extremely helpful little tidbit, as that is one of the things I am always trying to re-remember.

I was so excited to find the treasure of last year’s planning, that I decided to add to it this year. I typed up the menu, the shopping list and the guest list. During the preparing phase I’ll be adding more notes about what works and what doesn’t. After Thanksgiving I will add details about leftovers and anything that didn’t go quite far enough.  So next year I will be able to look at the number of people we had and say, “Hmmm, 5 pounds of potatoes didn’t go quite far enough for 18 people, so this year I should get the bigger bag,” or maybe, “whoa, I threw away a whole bowl of cranberry sauce last year – I should halve that recipe.”

If you don’t do something like this already, I highly encourage you to pick up this habit this year. It won’t make a huge difference in this year’s preparations, but next Thanksgiving will be a breeze.