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Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving meal dinner, celebrate, food, supper, friends, family, children, give thanks, harvest, autumn, season
Thanksgiving Day


17 Tips for an Effortless Thanksgiving Day

Did I say “Effortless?”  Since Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching, I thought I would share some tips to help you have a less-stressful, less anxiety-filled Thanksgiving.  : )

  • Plan Ahead – Sit down and really think about everything you are going to need, what time you are having guests come over, and think about what your main menu is going to be.  Get a notebook and pen to write down all your thoughts and keep it in a handy spot near the kitchen.
  • Organize – Make lists of everything you will need (ingredients, guests, decorations, seating, activities, timeframe, etc.)
  • General Head-count – Try to keep a general head-count in mind when you are thinking of how much food to prepare.  You know your kids will probably bring a friend or two to hang-out with.  And, always plan to have extra, because it’s better to have too much food and drinks, than not enough.
  • Ask for Help – Once you know who is coming, make a list of each family and ask them to bring something.  In our family, we usually have one family bring 2-liter drinks and a dessert, another family can bring the dinner rolls and a gallon of sweet tea, and another can bring a side-dish or two, etc.  Most people are happy to help out any way that they can.
  • Create Your Menu – Try not to get too fancy and go overboard with your menu.  In our family, we generally have the basics:  a turkey, glazed ham, sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, lima beans and green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, cranberry chutney, rolls, and several desserts.  And, there is always more than enough food for everyone.
  • Have a Recipe Folder – Be sure to keep a binder or file folder that has all of your recipes printed out that you are going to use for Thanksgiving Day.
  • Take Inventory – Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to take stock of all the items you have and all the items you will need to purchase.  Make a market list and stick to it as much as possible. 
  • Prepare in advance – Prepare the things that you can ahead of time, like the dressing, cut-up your veggies, some of your casseroles, some desserts, etc.  
  • Clean your House – A few days before, do some quick cleaning around where your guests will be.  I don’t get too crazy on this, as we have kids and pets and there will be lots more kids and pets at our house.  As long as the majority of things are picked-up and the house is dusted and vacuumed, we are good to go!
  • Plan Kids’ Activities – We usually have at least 10 kids in attendance, of all ages, so I set-up a couple of long tables with folding chairs and cover with a cute but disposable tablecloth.  I place boxes of crayons and printed out coloring sheets, word searches, crossword puzzles, etc., to keep the kids busy until time to eat.  
  • Set the Table the Night before –  Trust me.  No one is going to know, and it will save you so much stress and time just having it done.  I also set the kid’s table the day before with all the printables and such.  Additionally, for the kids’ table, I use disposable plates, napkins, and cups.  That way I don’t have to worry when the kids spill their drink, drop their plate, knock their glass off of the table, etc.  Because they will.  The hardwood floors clean up great and I can ball-up everything into the table cover and throw it in the trashcan.  Done!
  • Clean Guest Bathroom – The morning of, make sure to wipe down the guest bathroom, hang a clean hand towel, and add some fresh soap to the dispenser.  Stock with plenty of TP and add a festive candle.
  • Serve Appetizers – I like to have sausage and cheese balls on a plate or some chex mix handy just in case someone is starving and getting “Hangry.”  Especially, the kids.
  • Buffet Style on the Island – This saves time and space, and makes for easier clean-up.  I have a large center island in my kitchen that has a sink on one side, and counter stools underneath the other side.  It is the perfect size for placing all of the Thanksgiving dishes, inserting the appropriate serving utensils, and then letting everyone help themselves.  This is how we do it every year and it works out great!
  • Have a Family Member or Friend Take Photos – I wish I had done a better job of this last year.  Try and take pictures of everyone sitting around and enjoying each other’s company.  Take pics of the kids playing, coloring, and having fun.  And, take photos of the beautiful and delicious food!
  • Christmas Movies – Each year, after we are all finished eating and cleaning-up, we round-up the kids onto the covered porch.  They watch Christmas movies and roast marshmallows over the fireplace.
  • Relax, have fun, and enjoy! – Of course, you are going to feel some stress when hosting Thanksgiving Day, but remember, the day is about being grateful, giving thanks, and sharing a meal with the ones you love.


Thanksgiving Printables

In the spirit of giving, I have created these three watercolor printables for my subscribers for personal use.  The downloadable PDF files are in the Freebies Library tab.  You can print them out on regular sized paper (8 1/2″ x 11″) and frame them for some pretty wall art.  I hope you enjoy the prints, and Happy Thanksgiving!   (**If you are not a subscriber and would like to get these free printables, you can subscribe over on the right side of my blog, under my profile**).


Some other articles of mine that you may enjoy are Fall Decorating Ideas to Carry You Through Thanksgiving and Fall Home Tour: Autumn in the Dining Room.



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