What is the best (digital) way to organize Thanksgiving?
October 30, 2017 6:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year, and my sister (who lives across the country) is flying in and would like to help. Does anyone have any web-based ideas for us to plan together?

Ideally, we'd be able to:
- Share ideas for recipes (a shortlist of ideas for each category like "dessert" and "sides" or whatever, from which we can narrow it down), preferably with both links and uploaded photos.
- Create a master shopping list that we can access on our phones.
- Put together a schedule for the day of and day before.
- Assign things that we are each responsible for (and other people like "mom is bringing cups").
- Assign foods to different cookware, stovetop burners, and oven space.

It's not a potluck (my mom really is bringing cups) so we do not need to collaborate with anyone else. We both love cooking and planning elaborate meals, so we just need something to help us chug along harmoniously.

I opened a Google sheets and stared at it blankly, so I thought I would ask the hivemind for ideas. If you have organized something like this, what have you used? I welcome you to get as specific as you like. (I mean, if you do use a spreadsheet, what does it look like?) Thanks!
posted by cpatterson to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have done collaborative TG cooking with some friends, and the most critical item is planning the schedule for the oven(s) and stove(s). We've usually done it on paper, but there ends up being a Gantt chart of the oven contents & temperature as we prove to ourselves that either we make the pies AND cheesecake AND potatoes the day before, or else we have to get up at the crack of dawn on Thursday. The temperature part is key for the reheating of made-ahead items (and also validating that you can in fact fit all the pans in at once).

Otherwise, I'd probably start by setting up a menu and claiming ownership of this item or that (at which point you might both say "meh, how about ____ instead of ____" for any recipes you aren't wild about).

Once the menu is set, you can get to the mother of all shopping lists -- with quantities (esp for butter) - and then break that out among the places you'll shop.
posted by janell at 6:37 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I do Thanksgiving planning (including schedule) in a Google Docs table. I wouldn't use the sheets, too complicated and not visually what you need. You can embed the links to your recipes if you want.

(down the side is the list of dishes and tasks (like table setting, etc); across top is "shopping list"; "when get"; "cooking plan"; "serving dish" etc.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:37 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might find some good tips in an old post of mine, Turkey Day = Techie Day, if the links are still live.
posted by Miko at 7:34 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: People who love spreadsheets love spreadsheets; I am not one of them. I use Google Keep for household shopping lists and recently used it to good effect for scheduling vacation plans. For the recipes, starting a shared Pinterest board might be helpful.
posted by Morrigan at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh and here are some of my tips from earlier and here is a personal timeline. Yeah I'm kinda into Thanksgiving.
posted by Miko at 7:57 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Free apps Picnic (iOS, Android), Cozi (iOS, Android), and Treehouse all have shared calendars for event scheduling, shopping/to-do lists, and searchable catalogs of recipes whose ingredients can be easily added to a grocery list. Picnic and Treehouse have task assignment. Cozi lets you upload recipe links (but only one photo as the recipe cover). Treehouse's meal planning app Table is separate from but integrated with its Family Organizer app.

Here are three spreadsheet templates, especially for the cooking equipment Gantt chart/timeline. Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by eyeball at 10:38 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I think I'll use a combination of all of these suggestions so I've marked them all best answer.

Miko, you have a next-level Thanksgiving hustle...!
posted by cpatterson at 1:29 PM on November 1, 2017

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