November 15, 2016
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

‘Tis the season for giving thanks, indulging the senses, and enjoying some relaxing family time… well at least it could be with a little prep and planning!

While Thanksgiving is often a time of celebration for those who observe it, it can also be full of stressful preparation, clean-up, and exhaustion. But that’s just what happens when you’re cooking for many more people than usual, right? Not necessarily. Stress doesn’t have to be on your menu this year! 

This year, try focusing on what really matters and simplify! Trimming all the unnecessary elements, you’re far more likely to actually enjoy yourself as the host/hostess, and chances are that you’ll still pull off a praise-worthy event!

Here are a few ways to host Thanksgiving stress-free this year.

Reflect on years past.
What causes you stress may not be the same as what causes it for someone else, so take a moment to reflect on the highlights and lowlights of the past few Thanksgiving events. What were some of the biggest challenges? Was it trying to cook too much? Not getting enough help? Not planning ahead? Too many people in a dining room that was too small? Taking a moment to think about what you should and shouldn’t  do this year based on your unique experiences is a great first step in making this year flow much more smoothly.

Ask everyone to contribute.
Asking everyone to bring a dish could greatly help reduce your personal cooking expectations, but don’t stop there. Ask someone to come early to help you set up, someone else to bring a few extra chairs, and maybe designate yet another person to keep an eye on filling the dishwasher as things pile up. Think of hosting less as your high-pressure moment to shine in the spotlight, and more as an opportunity to sharpen your project management skills by delegating tasks to others… and still getting some of the glory for bringing it all together!

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Keep it positive.
Whatever happens, just keep it positive. Disagreements around politics? Change the subject to how everyone will be spending New Year’s Eve. Something burns or overcooks? Have a laugh, toss the damaged parts, and carry on with everything else that tastes great. Stress about running behind schedule? Forget the clock and just go with the flow. When you feel any stress creeping in, just put a hand over your heart, take a deep breath, and count your blessings to get yourself grounded in the moment.

Let go of perfection.
Accept it right now that it’s not all going to go according to plan on the big day. Something will break, someone will be late, awkward moments will happen. It’s ok! If anyone decides to be judgmental then kindly offer them a drink and get on with the party anyway, but don’t let yourself be the one to dwell on any little things going wrong. Remember that this holiday isn’t about whether your napkins match the tablecloth but about recognizing just how much there is to be grateful for as you spend time with the ones you love.

The more you plan in advance and release the need to be superwoman the more likely it is that you’ll have a Thanksgiving that’s actually fun!

How are you planning on keeping the stress away throughout this holiday season? Share with us in the comments below!

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