10-Minutes Now, For a Much Better Thanksgiving Dinner (Next Year)

No matter which holiday gathering(s) you host, there's a 10-minute step most people miss, which makes things infinitely easier the next year: the celebration recap.



The recap is simply writing down some notes about:

  • What worked and what didn't

  • What you forgot (whether it mattered)

  • What you would like to do differently

  • The menu you served

  • Recipe updates you made

  • Who liked what

  • What dishes other people brought


It's easy to think you'll remember that the extra 1/2 cup of cream added to the mashed potato recipe was great, or that using the hot plate for the stuffing was revolutionary, but the truth is that there are so many more important things to use your brain power on. Don't burden yourself with trying to remember any of it.


Here's my Thanksgiving Menu before the big day. I print this out so I can check things off and write notes as I go.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu (Original)
.pdf
Download PDF • 74KB

Here's the same menu after, with all of my comments and to-do's for next time.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu (Annotated)
.pdf
Download PDF • 143KB

I use Evernote to keep track of everything celebration related. I have a notebook for each holiday, as well as ones for birthday parties and dinner parties. It's a very simple system that allows me to go back in time for information, inspiration, and even nostalgia.


If you don't have a notes app you like, you can simply create a folder on your computer and put text documents in it. If you don't use a word processing app often, then you can write yourself an email and create an email folder called Thanksgiving to store it in.


You're not a digital person? No problem! Before 2007, I used to store everything in a 3-ring binder and it worked well. I'd keep lined paper in there for notes and page protector sleeves to hold the recipes. I still use the binder for holding the recipes, but I prefer having my menu and notes on my phone so I can access it anywhere (especially at 2:00am when an idea pops into my head and I don't want to turn the light on).


Another analog choice would be a spiral-bound notebook or dot journal. As you can see, I'm not fussy about how my notes look; I just want them recorded. But, if it delights you to have a beautifully decorated, heirloom quality record on your shelf, then by all means — go for it! You can use markers, stickers, embossing ink... whatever your heart desires.


There are only two important criteria:

  1. You write/gather everything together.

  2. You can easily locate it 11 months from now.

That's it!


Ready to go the extra mile? Add all the action items you came up with during your recap to your to-do list and go update your recipe files now. Alternatively, pick a date when you won't be so busy and schedule a Thanksgiving Day follow-up session to review your notes and take action.


Your future-self thanks you!