A Stress-free Holiday Meal – Steps 3 & 4: Schedules

photo by Michel Filion

Creating the schedule fot the week and day of your holiday meal are crucial steps that will set you up for stress-free success! These steps are so important because they allow you to do the thinking ahead of time, before the real hustle of the holidays begins. There is so much to do outside of the kitchen the week before Christmas and trying to remember all the little things can get really overwhelming, so lists are a must!

For the week of the meal, I list everything from grocery shopping down to the smallest get-ahead task:

5 Days Before

  1. Pick up Turkey, Chicken livers and hearts at farm

3 Days Before

  1. Check kitchen inventory vs. Supply List
  2. Go grocery shopping
  3. Make pate

2 Days Before

  1. Make cranberry sauce
  2. Make and chill tart dough
  3. Cut bread for stuffing and set out to dry

1 Day Before

  1. Roll out & bake tart shell
  2. Assemble tiramisu
  3. Set tart shell aside to cool
  4. Make and bake pound cake
  5. Make broccoli salad
  6. “Sweat” stuffing vegetables
  7. Brown sausage for stuffing
  8. Brine turkey

When I originally created the menu, I tried to include as many make-ahead dishes/components as possible, but I didn’t realized what a favor I did myself until I made my schedule for Christmas day:

8:30 am

  • Season & bake turkey
  • Make giblet broth for gravy
  • Assemble stuffing
  • Saute garlic and butter for potatoes

12:00 pm

  • Take out cranberry sauce


  • Stuffing into oven, basting often
  • Prep vegetables for roasting


  • Take out broccoli salad and lemon tart
  • Clear away appetizers
  • Wash, cut potatoes


  • Start mashed potatoes
  • Prep spinach ingredients


  • Take turkey out of the oven, cover with foil to rest
  • Take stuffing out of the oven, cover with foil
  • Oven 425 – roast vegetables
  • Make gravy
  • put cake on pedestal
  • Plate and set salad and cranberry sauce


  • Make spinach


  • Maple syrup over vegetables, roast 5 more minutes
  • Plate potatoes, put gravy in gravy boat
  • Carve Turkey


  • Vegetables out of oven, plate and serve

I listed every task that I could anticipate, no matter how small, which will help when I compile my list of tasks that my guests can help with, if they offer. Because I will be doing a lot of the work ahead of time, many of the tasks on the Meal Day list are to take out the prepared dishes at the right time, which are easy to cross off the list!

With all the make-ahead components of this meal and all the steps mapped out, getting the whole meal together will be so simple and absolutely stress-free!

Related Posts:

Coming Soon:

  • Step 5: Include Volunteers – List Extra Tasks


3 Responses to “A Stress-free Holiday Meal – Steps 3 & 4: Schedules”
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  1. […] A Stress-free Holiday Meal – Steps 3 & 4: Schedules « How to Peel an Onion says: December 17, 2010 at 6:18 am […]

  2. […] A Stress-free Holiday Meal – Steps 3 & 4: Schedules « How to Peel an Onion says: December 17, 2010 at 6:18 am […]

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