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How to Take the Stress out of Thanksgiving Dinner

By Edited Jan 29, 2016 1 3

While most of us believe that Thanksgiving should be a congenial, festive affair often the holiday leaves many of us overly worked, overstressed and distraught. The holiday becomes a stressful undertaking. What we need is a plan of attack toward getting rid of stress.

Things You Will Need

A guest List
meal plan
chore plan
delegated chore plan
seating arrangement

Step 1

First thing you should consider is avoiding any household renovations within two weeks of the holiday. If the renovations are totally unavoidable, like it's the only time available for the contractor then make other arrangements for the holiday meal rather than having it at your home. Call the family and friends that you normally have in your home for the holiday meal and explain your situation. Maybe someone else can have it at their home. Think about redefining your Thanksgiving meal. Last year instead of having Thanksgiving at home, we helped with the local Community Thanksgiving Dinner which was our communities answer to providing for low income families on the holiday. It was great fun. I saw a lot of people that I knew from various local churches who were helping including our local state representative. The best part of it was that I didn't have to make a whole meal for the day and my house didn't need to be cleaned after the event!

Step 2

If you're still planning to have the event at your home in the traditional manner, plan your activities before hand over the course of the two weeks before Thanksgiving. Write out your guest list, your meal plan, and everything that you need to have done before the meal.

Step 3

Do your invites. Let your guests know what is expected of them. Let them know what you've got planned for the meal. If someone asks for something special for the meal but you hadn't planned to make it, suggest that they bring that dish to add to the meal. An even better idea is to have every guest bring a dish for the meal. Maybe one person brings rolls, another brings pies, another brings mashed potatoes. That way all the expense and preparation isn't left to you. So what if someone brings pies they bought from the store. If someone else complains, they can bring homemade pies next year.

Step 4

Now that you've got your invites and you've got your meals planned and know who's bringing what, it is time to create your seating plan. Remember to consider who has issues with whom and also who is left handed and who isn't. Also consider how children who are invited will be served and cared for.

Step 5

Create and shop from a shopping list. Be sure to follow a check list to be sure that you've got the ingredients needed for each dish so that you don't have to rush out and get it the day of the event.

Step 6

Have your tableware, serving dishes and tablecloth ready the night before the event. If you're not using your dining room for breakfast or lunch on Thanksgiving, consider setting the table the night before. Have a vase ready for fresh flowers if using fresh flowers in centerpiece.

Step 7

Allow plenty of time for turkey or other main meat dish to cook. Have a plan to get meal ready in orderly fashion. As guests arrive utilize guest help in getting the meal to the table. Have a plan for the event that someone isn't able to come who has a vital part of the meal.

Step 8

Insist that meal remain a congenial affair. If religion, politics or sexual orientation are issues that cause breakdown in congeniality of your Thanksgiving, keep the feuding parties apart. Ask one to assist you in the kitchen while 'you visit' is one proposed way of preventing this type of incident.

Step 9

Be sure to ask for assistance with cleanup after the meal. In this liberated age, include everyone with the process. Give different guests a designated job. This way everyone can enjoy the fellowship after the meal.
Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a stressful event. With proper planning and cooperation from our guest. What was once a stressful affair can again be the event that we are truly thankful for.

Tips & Warnings



Oct 2, 2009 3:18pm
You are so organized. This makes a lot of sense. Planning and preparation would really take a lot of the last minute frenzy out of the event. I like the volunteering at the Community Dinner part the best. Not only do you help where it's really needed, no clean up of the house before or after!
Oct 2, 2009 6:06pm
great article...and very timely, too! :)
Dec 2, 2009 11:01am
Terrific onfo on having a stress free Thanksgiving! I should have read it last week, but Christmas is right around the corner...
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