For the past few years, I've been running the family Thanksgiving day meals. I could not do it all on my own, or at least not as well. But I do all the planning and many of the important traditional dishes.
It all starts with planning. I keep a spreadsheet with several pages that helps to keep me organized. The important or at least fixed dishes are recorded there in detail. Things that change a bit from year to year, or that are provided by others, are just kept as line items. Since I generally have to pack all the ingredients into the car for a trip to my in-laws' house, I need a way to ensure that nothing is forgotten.
Page 1 is a guest list with counts of adults and children. I also keep contact information here for everyone, so don't expect me to share it.
Page 2 is the menu. Food names, the person assigned to make it, links to recipes (if any) and notes.
Page 3 is an ingredient list, consolidated from the menu. By having both the dish name and the ingredient name, I can sort it as needed for the task at hand. While I am building the list from the menu, I keep it sorted by dish. Then when I'm preparing the shopping list, I sort by ingredient name. That let's me see that two dishes share oranges, for instance, so I can get totals.
Page 4 is a shopping list, which is consolidated from the ingredient list on page 3. Everything gets listed here, and crossed off as I acquire items. I start the shopping in my own pantry and cupboards and then move on to things I have to purchase.
Page 5 starts as a copy of the shopping list, basically, but it is used for packing the car. I include a column for the container, so for instance my granny smith apples might be in 'bag 3'. As items get put into containers I cross them out, then as containers make it into the car I italicize whole blocks.
Without that level of organization the whole thing would fall apart. I am naturally absent-minded and would be sure to forget something important without this helpful tool.
Well, enough of that. Next time around we will get a bit closer to the actual food.