Holiday Journal (And A Great Gift Idea)

Now that Thanksgiving is behind you, it’s easy to just put away the pie plates and forget all about it.  Relieved at your renewed ability to fit things in your refrigerator and bustling for the next round of revelry, you have already gone numb to how many hours it took that turkey to thaw.    Not so fast.  Grab some paper and take a few minutes to make a list of what you learned this year.  Now use that list to set up a folder or binder to help you stay organized when it’s time to do it all over again.

Write down whatever comes to mind.  Things like, “14lb. turkey – order 2 weeks ahead,”  “started thawing in refrigerator on Monday – still frozen on Thursday.”   “Two pounds of brussels sprouts – just right,”  or “shop for gherkins earlier – stores ran out.”   Write down what went right –  “Everyone liked the sweet potatoes.  Make same recipe next year,”  and what could have gone better – “Too many green beans!”  Saved in the front of your binder, these tell the story of your family’s holidays and are handwritten memento of your family’s history.

This is where you should corral your family’s recipes.  A copy of anything you make year after year should be kept here so you don’t have to go searching.  My binder has tabbed page protectors with pockets.  One is devoted to family recipes that get made very year.  A second is for saving new things we may try.  You see so many food ideas in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  Save yourself from having to search for that stuffing recipe that looked so interesting when you are on your way to the store.

Grab some Post-its and make notes.  I found one stuck to my oven manual (son’s handwriting) with time adjustments for the pie.  Last year, it got a little too “brown”.   This year, it came out perfect.  There is no way you will ever remember this.  Write it down!

Keep a copy of your family’s Thanksgiving menu.  What you serve that’s tried and true.  This is your guide for every year, why keep trying to remember it?  You can add new recipes, but this is the routine everyone is expecting.  From your menu you can make a master shopping list.  If you shop at multiple stores, write down the store name and list the items you usually buy in that store.  Next year, you can look at this list and use it to plan your shopping trips.  Some things can be picked up way ahead of time (gherkins…).  Why wait?

Now everything you need is all in one place for next year.  It will be so much easier you will wonder how you ever got along without it.  Next year, I won’t waste time pickling carrots, but I definitely will make home made spiced nuts again.

And now for that gift idea.  Several years ago I gave everyone in our family their own special cookbook of family recipes.  I started with only 5 recipes, but that gift was such a big hit that everyone keeps asking me when I am going to give them more.  This is a great gift for your family.  Something you can add to year after year and something your kids can hold on to for many years to come.  I used TasteBook to create the books.  Look into this.  It is a great gift idea.




This is what a father-in-law’s leftover sandwich looks like.  It would make an easy December dinner if you are still lucky enough to have some Thanksgiving leftovers in your freezer.   (Note to self:  Make more Chex Mix next year.)

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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