It is a well known fact that what the Americans refer to as the "holidays" can be a stress- producing time for many people. These simple tips will help us make some small changes that will lead to a more joyful Thanksgiving.
- Begin with the end in mind- what would you like the time together to accomplish? Make choices, even if they are tough, based on what will be constructive for your family.
- Plan ahead - use our Heartistry Motto- the More Before the Less the Stress!
- Choose some menu items that are traditional and add some new healthy dishes. Check out the amazing recipes in our Heartistry Alumni, Leigh Anne's new Holiday Slow Cooker Recipe Book.
- Shop for non-perishable items well in advance of the crowded stores and buy some extra food to donate to a needy family.
- Ask for help by inviting guests to bring a dish. Be specific as to what they should bring.
- If cooking is stressful for you, purchase some pre-cooked food and just prepare a couple of items. Make sure to serve the food in your own dishes and not in the aluminum foil pans! Garnish with some fresh herbs and no-one will suspect that you haven't been cooking all day.
- Divide up the kitchen responsibilities so that all the work doesn't fall on one person (you) and discuss the details of what needs to be done well in advance.
- Give each family member a dish to prepare and have the recipe and ingredients ready in a bag. Each of our children has prepared a specific dish every year for Thanksgiving and feels a sense of ownership for "their" part of the meal.
- Ask older members of the family if they would prefer to relax or whether they would like to be part of the preparations. Don't exclude them especially if cooking family meals was something they loved doing for many years.
- Substitute fruit and vegetables as table decor instead of flowers as they can be eaten later.
- Set the table the day before so there is one less thing to do on the actual day. (I enjoyed this blog about the value of a beautifully set table- Thanksgiving Dinner: Why we decided not to skip it.)
- If serving a big group, use fancy paper plates to make the clean up easier.
- Plan an activity that will focus on the meaning of the holiday such as going around the table and having each person say what they are thankful for. I have kept an album for the last 28 years and have had everybody write one thing for which they are grateful. It is fun to look back and see what the children wrote when they were young.
- Ask guests to share their favorite background music song and make a playlist of the various songs. Have people identify their song when it is playing and share why they like it.
- Invite a foreign student to join your family. They will so appreciate being in an American home for this special holiday and it will add a richness to your gathering. Very few foreign students ever go inside an American home so let's change this! Your children will learn so much from having International guests too. Check out my blog 10 Things Children Learn at the Dinner Table.
Relax and enjoy your time together with family, friends and strangers. Please share photos of your table with us. We'd love to see how you expressed your love for your family and your creativity!