Cheers to Another Wonderful Thanksgiving Thanks to Project Management

Madeleine Gritzbach, Tuesday 20 November 2018 | Reading time: unknown

It is that time of the year again: Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but in preparation for the festivities two projects have to be completed first. What projects am I talking about? Read on to find out. 

Project #1: Thanksgiving Dinner 


The key to good project management is a clearly defined scope. Decide beforehand how big your Thanksgiving dinner is going to be, how many dishes you want to offer and so on. Be aware of the so called ‘scope creep’: going overboard with fancy ingredients and elaborate decorations will significantly increase your budget.  

Task Plan and Schedule 

A comprehensive task plan will help you prioritize your tasks and keep an overview of what you have to do. Be specific and make the tasks activity based. Be sure to factor in the dependencies between tasks and their sequence into your schedule. For example, if you have a frozen turkey, plan to transfer the turkey from the freezer to the fridge one day before so it can defrost. 

Guest List 

In order to put together an appropriate guest list or find people to help you prepare the meal, keep in mind the guidelines for putting together a project team: How many people can be seated at your table and how many can eat from your dinner so there is enough for everybody (capacity and budget)? Who can sit/work together and who is likely to fight (team members)? Then make sure that everybody knows what their responsibilities are or how they need to behave. This way you can ensure that the evening will be a success and you don’t end up with three bowls of cranberry sauce but no gravy. 

Risk & Change Management 

Everyone who has attended a family dinner before knows that things never go according to plan, no matter how well prepared you are. Maybe your cousins announces that she’s bringing her boyfriend last minute. Or maybe your little nephew wants to help, but accidentally drops the whole bowl of mashed potatoes. Always have a back-up plan, e.g. prepare more food than necessary, have enough spare dishes and cutlery.  


After the festivities, people will freely give you feedback. If not, ask for it. Feedback will help you improve your meal or guest list for next year’s feast.  

Be sure to send everyone all the pictures you took so they can put them on their Instagram and tell everyone how great your meal was. Who knows, maybe you will be the next cooking star? 


Project #2: Attending a Thanksgiving Parade 

Probably you are not personally responsible for planning the Thanksgiving Parade but did you know how much effort goes into that? The event planners spend the whole year to give you the perfect event. Here’s what you can do to prepare for a perfect day at a Thanksgiving Parade:  

Manage risks and anticipate changes 

Parades are outdoor events so they’re at the mercy of the seasons. For events that take place in summer you’ll need to prepare for heat, for example by bringing enough water or a fan. Then again, it could also start raining in the middle of the day, so you better bring an umbrella, too. But not only the weather poses as a risk, other risks include safety and security risks, which is why you will need to implement risk and change management. You have to assess the risks carefully and implement an emergency plan. What if a member of your party gets lost and their phone dies? How will you find them again? Will there be a fixed meeting point or will you meet where you last saw each other? Planning things like these before the event will help you stay calm should a similar situation arise. 

Create an accurate budget 

Parades are huge events. These events and especially the celebrations after them can cost you a lot of money if you aren’t careful. This is why it is important to set yourself a budget before an event like this. The best way to plan a budget, and stay within it, is to make budget estimations and projections before the event: How much money can I afford to spend? How much will one drink cost me? Do I want to eat out, or do I eat at home before the event? Then during the course of the planning make updates to the initial estimates, and afterwards have a post-parade budget review to compare your initial budget estimates with the actual spending. You can use this as ‘lessons learned’ for next year’s parade. 

Manage time carefully 

Time management is very important, after all, you want to see the entire parade from beginning to end and not miss half of it. And of course you want to actually see the parade and have a good view. In order to achieve this you will need to be there well before the beginning of the parade. The key is to plan in sufficient lead time as you need to factor in party members running late and traffic being slow or roads being closed because of the event.  


In order to stay on schedule and budget, you’ll have to communicate regularly with all parties involved. Make the schedule and budget clear to everyone going to the parade with you beforehand. On the day of the parade make sure that everyone stays on schedule and will be ready on time for you to leave the house. Remember, there can never be too much communication! 

Keep all this in mind and your Thanksgiving will be a blast! InLoox wishes you Happy Thanksgiving! 

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