Everyone wants to have a lovely Thanksgiving, but too often the reality doesn’t measure up to our dreams. Here are a few simple tips to help you make the day special without making your life miserable in the process.
Let go of perfection: The Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving paintings are just that – paintings. Probably even his Thanksgiving celebrations had their share of spilled gravy and mashed potato food fights. Focus on the things that are important to you – having your family there, good food, laughter, friends dropping in, and let the rest go.
Pick one special touch for you: Maybe you love having fresh flowers on the table using your mother’s china. Or you dream of making napkin rings using real fall leaves. Let yourself have one indulgent touch, even if the rest of your family doesn’t understand it. And if you don’t have time for that special element this year, let it go. There’s always next year.
Let others help: It’s easy to get caught up in taking charge of everything so that you end up exhausted at the end of the day. Instead, ask others to help out. This can range from having guests bring a favorite side dish to assigning table setting, clearing and clean-up duties ahead of time. That way you can enjoy the holiday too.
Take the time to give thanks: With all the planning, cooking and cleaning, it’s easy to forget the reason for the holiday. But take a minute and think about all the things you have to be thankful for. We tend to take our lives for granted. But this is one day that encourages us not to do that. So be thankful.
Thanksgiving is a family holiday and you can make sure everyone enjoys themselves by getting people involved.
Even small children can play a part when preparing for Thanksgiving. Start with simple tasks and build to more complex roles as your children get older and more able to contribute. Here are a few ideas.
Youngest children: Even a toddler can draw a Thanksgiving picture to put on the front door to welcome guests. Any crafts created in preschool or grade school can grace a table or buffet. Assign simple duties such as helping to set the table to make them feel a part of the day.
Grade-school children: How about assigning each child a side dish to help create? Go over the menu and ask which dish sounds like the most fun to make. You may want to pull in an adult who is not the primary chef in the house to help make the dish – giving them a chance to bond and contribute to the holiday. Children at this age could also be responsible for setting the table and creating a Thanksgiving centerpiece.
High school children: By this age, a teen can take over one or more dishes for the Thanksgiving table. You might want to have them help plan the menu – adding appetizers or a special dessert to go along with the pumpkin pie. If there will be younger children attending, ask your teenager to come up with activities to keep the small fry entertained and out of trouble before, during and after the meal.
Take the time when at the table to ask everyone what they are thankful for from the past year. You might want to discuss the topic in advance with younger children so that they have a chance to think about their answers.
Finally, involve the children in the clean-up. The more hands to help, the faster your whole family can relax and digest that incredible dinner!
We’re headed for the holiday season, and it’s easy to get caught up in everything you want to do until you’re overwhelmed. One helpful approach to make sure you are ready to make your holidays merry and bright is planning. Take the time now to create the framework for making holidays fun this year.
Budget your dollars: Many people end up in January with more bills than they expected. To head off this situation, spend time with your spouse or family agreeing on a budget. Be sure to include food, entertainment, cards, and any decorations as well as gifts. Add a cushion to cover unexpected expenses.
Budget your time: You may want to bake holiday cookies, decorate with abandon and write long notes to friends. Add that full-family Thanksgiving, volunteering and attending everyone’s holiday parties and you may end up too tired to enjoy everything. Combine some favorite events and projects with some time to recover and just have fun and the season will be pleasant instead of hectic.
Work ahead: Do you love homemade Christmas cookies? How about mixing up the dough and freezing it for later? Grab your cookbooks and recipe box and develop your menus for Thanksgiving and beyond. Plan for each event with grocery lists and all the recipes organized in files. If you are going to ask Aunt Margaret to bring her sweet potato casserole, now is the time to call. Pull out your holiday card list before it starts to get hectic and address envelopes and write that newsletter. You don’t have to send them yet but wouldn’t it be nice to be ready when the time comes?
Take a few hours to plan your holidays this weekend, and you will help ensure a holly jolly time for everyone.