You can have a stress-free Thanksgiving. Really, you can!
If you're hosting dinner, it's not too early to start thinking and preparing for the big feast. I've been hosting Thanksgiving for over 10 years. Here are a few of my secrets to having a stress free Thanksgiving:
#1 Plan Your Menu – Write out what you want to make. Look at it a few times, tweak it and be sure it will accommodate the number of guests you're having. I once bought a 27-pound turkey for 4 people. Think about that. We had turkey for the whole neighborhood!
#2 Keep It Simple – If your family is a meat and potatoes kinda family don't make foi gras for an appetizer. I once tried to make 6 different side dishes…again, for 4 people. I was so overworked and stressed out I threw up the Thanksgiving morning.
#3 Set a Budget – Hosting a holiday should not mean you need to take out a second mortgage on the house. Once you have your menu planned, figure out what it's going to cost you. If it's over your head then rework. Be sure to include decorating in your budget as well. Plan and track your expenses with my free Holiday Expense Tracker.
#4 Prep and Pre-Prep – Many things can be prepped a few days in advance. There are several things you can do in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:
- Chop onion and celery
- Make bread and desserts
- Prep dry ingredients for stuffing
- Cut and soak potatoes
- Set the table
#5 Double Check Your Pantry, Twice – Even if the local Minit Market is open Thanksgiving Day do you really want to run out for butter? Check all of your recipes for ingredients the week prior and again a few days prior. Be sure to check the ingredients that aren't regulars in your normal menu. And toilet paper……for Pete's sake make sure you have enough toilet paper!
#6 Be Thankful – One year my husband went bear hunting the week of Thanksgiving and didn't come home until Thanksgiving morning. I spent half the day being “lumpy” (his description) because he was gone. I stomped around feeling sorry for myself. I forgot what being thankful was all about.
In 2012, we were living in a camper with no idea when our fire-destroyed house would be rebuilt. We were thankful to be alive, thankful to have a camper, and thankful for what God was doing in our lives. Thanksgiving has taken on a whole new meaning to me now.
#7 Don't Miss Your Quiet Time – If you get up at 3 am to put the turkey in the oven then have devotions at 3:30. Even if you go back to bed, get up early enough to do your devotions while it's quiet. Keep focused on Him and His goodness. Praise Him for all you are thankful for.
#8 Ask for Help – My pastor recently said, “there are no lone rangers in this walk of faith.” It stuck with me. There are also no lone rangers in cooking for crowds. Or at least there shouldn't have to be. If your family dynamic allows, ask for help the day of, invite people to bring stuff, and don't turn down help.
#9 The Dishes Can Wait – Regardless of how often you see your family, be sure to spend time with them on Thanksgiving. Play board games, laugh, reminisce about years past, watch football, or go for a walk. Let some of the dishes sit and relax with your family a bit. Then, when it's time, see the previous tip.
#10 Perfection Is Not Required – Aim to please, aim to do well but don't envision a perfect everything. Something will go wrong…like when Wyatt poured the only gravy we had down the drain…..and I had to eat my dinner with no gravy…..that's like eggs without bacon….chocolate without milk. ….but I survived and we have yet another story to tell.
It's your turn, what is your secret to a stress-free Thanksgiving?
Track and plan for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's with my FREE Holiday Expense Tracker.