Everyone loves Thanksgiving. And everyone hates all the work. So, this year for Thanksgiving let’s try a new approach. Let’s go into this holiday with a plan for the work to be minimal. We’ll apply six simple principles to maximize holiday enjoyment for everyone.
1. Make a plan.
Don’t think I’m crazy, but I make a list for everything. The second I put something on paper, it frees my mind to think of other important things. My Thanksgiving plan lists will include a guest list including their contributions, family assignments, a menu plan, a three week plan, and a shopping list for each store.
How much easier can Thanksgiving dinner be if you don’t have to make everything? When you are planning the menu and making out the guest list, recruit the great cooks in your family to make some of the traditional holiday dishes you enjoy. Even the young ones can contribute drinks, paper goods, flowers, or even rolls from the local bakery.
3. Shop early.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. It’s Thanksgiving Day and everything is going well getting ready for dinner. Getting the ingredients out for the pumpkin pie you realize you are out of pumpkin pie spice! So you rush out to ‘grab’ some only to be gone an hour and a half. Spare yourself. Shop at LEAST a week ahead, if not two. This also saves you the agony of the store being sold out of something you need last minute.
4. Advance preparation.
Desserts can be made ahead and frozen. Vegetables for stuffing and dressing can be pre-chopped. Casseroles can be pre-made and refrigerated. The turkey can be made ahead of time and frozen. Homemade crafts for decorations can be made weeks ahead. You can start making extra ice and storing it in freezer bags. Get the idea?
5. Enlist help.
There is no reason everyone can’t work together to make the day a success. Put the men on trash duty. Have them empty uneaten food off of plates, stack and carry all the dishes to the kitchen. Then take out all the trash bags when clean up is done. Before everyone leaves they help load cars with leftovers, dishes and any borrowed tables, chairs and games. Young men can be in charge of games and entertainment. The older women can keep the little ones busy. The younger women can wash linens, load the dishwasher and wash pots and pans.
6. Serve buffet style.
I love a beautiful setting. There is something about fancy ambiance that gets the girly part of me going. But at my house for Thanksgiving this year, I am using my kitchen bar as a buffet and decorating the table with a homemade craft by the kids and that’s all. I’m not putting out all the glassware, a formal place setting and messing up every service piece on my hutch. I will use casserole dishes to pre-make, cook and serve dishes in.
Use a little forethought, enlist a little help, and reap the relaxing rewards of a simple, stress-free Thanksgiving.
The Simple Things series is written by April Patel, contributing writer to TheThriftyMama.com. April is a freelance writer, single mom, homeschooler and pseudo urban homesteader and she blogs at An Apple a Day Wisdom. Like her Facebook page today so you don’t miss any of her daily doses of apple!