5 Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving

by Kimberly Hickok

In just a little over a week, I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving dinner. It kind of snuck up on me and at first I started to freak out but then I took a deep breath and said to myself, ‘Girl, you’ve got this. This isn’t your first rodeo.’ But if this IS your first time hosting, here are my top 5 tips for keeping your sanity, getting the meal on the table AND enjoy your friends and family.

  1. Keep it simple. This is not the time to try something new. Most people want the Thanksgiving they remember from their childhood – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and one or more of the following: corn, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts or green bean casserole. If you MUST try something new, just change up one thing like making your own cranberry sauce or stuffing.
  2. Divide and conquer. This can be as simple as dividing up your shopping into two trips – things you can buy now and last minute shopping. Or you can divide tasks between family members or guests. Bottom line – look for ways to take tasks off your list.
  3. Do as much as you can in advance. This might seem obvious but a few years ago, I forgot to make the cranberry sauce and was scrambling at the last minute.  Now I do it a few days in advance. I also chop all the onions and celery and place in large ziploc bags the night before so I don’t have to do it on Thanksgiving day. Set the table early in the day – including serving dishes and serving utensils so you don’t ‘forget’ anything.
  4. Let others help. My elementary school history facts are a little fuzzy but wasn’t the original Thanksgiving dinner a potluck of sorts where the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared what they had? So why not let someone else bring the dessert? Or just go ahead and buy the pie for pete’s sake? If your sister-in-law is a wiz at making gravy, let her. Have your teenage nephew or brother-in-law mash the potatoes.
  5. Smile. Laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I’ve told this story before. Years ago, before I met my husband, he tells the story of a Thanksgiving dinner at his dad’s house. Everyone was having fun. A guest arrived for the festivities and said, ‘Hmmm . . . what are you making? I don’t smell turkey.’ The turkey was in the oven, but the oven wasn’t on. Oops!

So take the time to do a little advance planning in the next day or so. Delegate as much as you can. Focus on what you’re thankful for, have a glass of wine (or two!) and maybe, just maybe, you’ll even enjoy the meal planning and preparation as much as you enjoy the day itself. Give it a try.

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