November 25, 2019  

Printable Christmas Menu Planner & Cooking Schedule

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PilotHolidayGreetings #CollectiveBias

Planning your holiday meals? Download these free Christmas meal planning printables to help you plan your cooking schedule, menu, and grocery list.


Are you hosting Christmas dinner this year? Making a huge holiday meal is stressful enough and add on top of that all of your other holiday to-dos and it can be a lot to keep track of!

If you are in charge of big holiday meals this year, it’s never too early to start planning the menu. From factoring in everyone’s food preferences to making sure you have all of the ingredients, and from figuring out what you can prep ahead of time to timing everything to be served at the same time, it can be a lot to orchestrate!

Whenever there’s a lot to plan, I always find a reason to create a printable to organize all of the little details. So today I have three great printables to help you get organized to host Christmas dinner!



Before I dive into today’s holiday menu planning tips and all of the free printables, I need to take a moment to talk about treating yourself to something that will make your planning a lot more enjoyable–new pens!

Yes, you read that right 😉. Planning is infinitely more fun with great pens so go ahead and grab some new Pilot Pen products during your next Target run. With all of the stress of the holiday season, consider a new pack of pens a well-deserved treat to yourself!

My absolute favorite pens to use with printables and my planner are the erasable FriXion® pens by Pilot Pen. Their smooth writing gel ink makes planning a breeze plus they’re erasable, giving you the power of infinite do-overs! I’m a long-time fan of the FriXion® ColorSticks–they come in a beautiful assortment of colors. I also recently tried the FriXion® Clickers and they are also a winner in my book. (Pssst…check out this Target Circle offer for 10% off FriXion® pens)

And can we talk about the huge 18-pack of G2 pens that I picked up the other day? So many colors that are perfect for getting organized this holiday season (I stashed a couple of the seasonal colors in my wrapping caddy for writing on gift tags). The G2 pens come in several styles and point sizes, all with the smooth writing gel ink I love about Pilot Pen products. If you’re looking for a great everyday pen, the G2 line is a great choice. And good news–these are also on sale at Target right now!

Free Christmas Meal Planning Printables

I created a set of three awesome planning printables to help you organize your big holiday meals this year.

This set of free printables includes all of the checklists and planners you need to plan this year’s Christmas meals. Click here for instant access to the set, which includes:

  1. Holiday Cooking Schedule
  2. Holiday Menu
  3. Holiday Grocery List

Holiday Meal Planner

Every great holiday meal starts with a well-planned menu. Take some time to carefully plan your menu in advance so you’re ready to start cooking come Christmas day.

Here are some tips to help you as you begin to plan your Christmas dinner menu.

Start with traditional favorites.

Begin your menu plan with the traditional foods that your family looks forward to every year. Whether it’s your grandma’s stuffing recipe or your mom’s homemade bread, you don’t want to forget these crowd favorites.

Note allergies and sensitivities.

Confirm the allergies and food sensitivities of your guests and make sure you incorporate plenty of foods that they can enjoy.

Create a balanced menu.

Use the menu planning printable to make sure you have a variety of foods planned from each category:

  • Appetizers
  • Side Dishes
  • Main Course
  • Desserts
  • Drinks

Limit the number of new recipes.

It can be tempting to go all out with new recipes when hosting big meals, but it’s usually best to stick with your tried-and-true favorites. Cooking for a crowd can be stressful enough without throwing a complicated new recipe into the equation!

If you do wish to try a couple of new recipes this year, make sure you plan ahead and do a practice run before your holiday guests arrive.

Enlist help.

Look over your list and delegate some of the foods to other family members. Most people are more than happy to bring something along so the key is to be specific so you end up with a variety of foods rather than everyone showing up with a fruit pie.

Christmas Grocery List

Once you’ve finalized your holiday menu, take some time to create a detailed grocery list. The last thing you want to do is be running to the grocery store for a forgotten ingredient on Christmas Eve, so grab your favorite pen and think through your shopping list in advance.

In addition to ingredients for your big Christmas dinner, also take into account other foods you will need to have on hand in the days leading up to and following Christmas. If you’ll have overnight guests, be sure to consider breakfast items and foods for the following day.

Also, think of some quick meals your family can eat in the hectic days leading up to Christmas.



With your Christmas menu planned, it’s also a good idea to plan a detailed cooking schedule for the day. I designed this free printable cooking schedule with space to plan things by the hour along with checklists of the recipes to make and the food that needs to be prepped.

Plan backward.

First decide what time you want to sit down for dinner, then work backward from there. If you want to eat at noon, what time should the meat go in the oven? Then add in times to start prepping and cooking each item on your menu.

Work ahead.

When you’re planning your cooking schedule, first think about anything that can be made ahead of time. A lot of side dishes are great when reheated, so don’t be afraid to prepare menu items a day or two in advance.

You can also do a lot of prep work ahead of time such as chopping veggies and boiling potatoes.

If you’re preparing a lot of food, you may want to create a cooking schedule for the day of your meal as well as the day before.


Factor in cook times.

When it comes to the logistics of cooking on Christmas day, factor in cook times so you can plan foods to be ready all around the same time.

Think beyond the oven.

You’ll also want to consider how much food can fit in your oven at one time and what temperature each item needs to be cooked at.

When possible, cook foods on the stovetop or in a crockpot to cut down on the number of dishes that need space in the oven.

Enlist help.

There is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enlist one or two people to help out. Ask a couple of guests if they will lend you a hand with some of the cooking and make sure they know what you need them to do. (This is why your cooking schedule is so helpful!)

In addition to helping with the actual cooking, you can also ask others for assistance with things like setting the table and dishing up plates of dessert.


I hope these printable Christmas meal planners will help you get organized and take some of the stress out of your holiday! Don’t forget to click here to download your free printables.

And if you love planning as much as I do, you know the power of a great pen! Treat yourself to a new pack of pens during your next Target run using these two offers:

  1. Save 25% off participating Pilot Pen products at Target November 24 through December 21, 2019! This offer includes G2 Fine Fashion Wrap 5ct Asst and Precise V5 Capped with new colors 10-pack.
  2. Save 10% off FriXion Pen products with the Target Circle app! Offer valid November 24 through December 7, 2019.

Looking for more holiday planning inspiration? Take a look at these blog posts:

Have a fantastic day!

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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