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Thanksgiving Game Plan: How to Feed a Crowd and Still Have Time to Eat


November 25, 2013 by BettyCupcakes

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Thanksgiving Game Plan |

I’m one of those people who LOVES hosting Thanksgiving.  Let’s be real- I like the leftovers.  But I also love feeding a crowd (it’s the Texan in me) so Thanksgiving is a holiday made for me.

Because I am a total nerd, I’ve kept detailed notes about Thanksgiving for the last 5 or 6 years: what the menu was, who came, the grocery list, etc.  This has been super helpful because I learned how much of each dish I needed to feed our crowd of 20-23.  The first year I only made one turkey and there were no leftovers and my mom and I ate scraps.  Boo!

Our menu for Thanksgiving stays pretty much the same every year.  I’m skipping green bean casserole this year in favor of Brussels sprouts gratin.

As you can see below, Thanksgiving is full of dishes that can be made in advance.  That way you can actually roast the turkey and eat some, too!

Thanksgiving Menu 2013


  • Cheese Ball with Ritz Crackers
  • Nana’s Dip (cream cheese, salsa, cheddar cheese) made by Nana

Side Dishes:

  • Cornbread Stuffing- 2 9 x 13 pans
  • Cranberry Sauce- homemade and canned
  • Rolls made by my father-in-law

Main Dish:

  • Two 14 pound turkeys from Trader Joe’s, rubbed in olive oil, salt, and pepper


  • Snowball cookies
  • Pumpkin pie with Heath Bar made by Aunt ReRe
  • Chocolate Trifle made by Aunt Nancy
  • Pie made by Aunt Linda

Thanksgiving Game Plan!


  • Make a double batch of Southern Cornbread (my favorite recipe is from the Good Housekeeping cookbook I received as a gift when we got married) in a 9 x 13 inch pan. 
  • Make the cranberry sauce and refrigerate.


  • Grate cheese for twice baked potato casserole.
  • Bake bacon for twice baked potato casserole.
  • Hard boil eggs for cornbread stuffing.
  • Saute the celery and onions for the cornbread stuffing.


  • Boil the red potatoes for the twice baked potato casserole.
  • Boil the sweet potatoes for the sweet potato casserole.  
  • Toast the white bread and the cornbread for the stuffing.


  • Braise the Brussels sprouts and toast the breadcrumbs.
  • Make the twice baked potato casserole and refrigerate.
  • Make the sweet potato casserole and refrigerate.
  • Make the cornbread stuffing.
  • Roast one turkey, carve, cover in broth, and refrigerate.

Thursday: Thanksgiving!  Be grateful that most of our family is healthy and together this holiday.  Call my parents and family in Texas to say I love you.

  • Drink coffee and eat breakfast- this keeps me from being a raving lunatic by lunchtime!
  • Roast second turkey.
  • While the second turkey rests, reheat first turkey in oven.
  • Bake twice baked potato casserole and sweet potato casserole while reheating the first turkey.
  • After the twice two casseroles are hot and the turkey is warmed through, remove from the oven and add the Brussels sprouts gratin to the oven to heat up.

Friday: Eat all the leftovers!  Ok, maybe not all at once, but there will be at least one gobbler sandwich consumed today.

I’ll pop in again of Friday with photos of our feast- cannot wait to chow down and catch up with family.  Maybe Sam will show off his latest dance moves- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes is sweeping the Puleo household!

Question of the Day:

What’s on your Thanksgiving table?  

  • christine says:

    Great post Sarah. I never prep ahead of time and I also never sit down and eat when everyone else does. I have been getting one huge fresh turkey each year, but I’ve been debating on two smaller instead. You think that works out better? Maybe I’ll do that next year, already have my order set up for this one.

    • BettyCupcakes says:

      I think cooking two turkeys is super helpful- I cook one the day before and then cover it with some broth and plastic wrap. Reheat it in the oven the next day while covered with foil. No one has ever guessed that I did roast it that day! Everyone must think I wake up at 1 am- not!

  • This Mom Said It says:

    Yes! Cooking ahead has saved me from major meltdowns! I love how you keep notes of everything.

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