5 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is sandwiched between two of the biggest holidays of the year.

Harvest decorations are initially pulled out with All Hallows Eve in mind. By the time the tricking and treating are over, every store from New York City to Los Angeles is fully stocked with Christmas cheer.

The unfortunate holiday that typically gets the short end of the stick is Thanksgiving. If you find that your traditions tend to miss out on that Thanksgiving vibe, here are a few suggestions for different ways to spice up your November with some extra thankfulness.

Embrace an Attitude of Gratitude

It may be a cliché, but it’s true: you should always try to remember the reason for the season. In the case of Thanksgiving, it’s in the name! Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for everything that we have. This is the perfect holiday for those with children. The natural focus on thankfulness can be a great way to teach gratitude and appreciation, all disguised in the attractive guise of holiday excitement.

This doesn’t have to be an attitude adopted purely on Thanksgiving Day, either. Try kicking off November by setting up a thankful tree. You can make one for pennies, and it can start as a fun project for the kids. Once set up, a thankful tree is an interactive way to ensure that everyone from the parents to the toddlers is focusing on an attitude of gratitude as the season unfolds.

Give Your Kids Thankful Party Favors

Christmas has cornered the market on gift-giving, and it’s about time to break that trend. While there’s no need to make a Thanksgiving mall run or spend hours preparing gifts in autumnal wrapping paper (there will be plenty of time for that in December), you can still present your kids with a fun party favor to enhance the Thanksgiving festivities.

If you go this route, try to avoid filling the bags with junk. They’ll be getting enough food during the day as it is. Instead, try looking for thoughtful gifts like:

  • Reading books
  • Coloring books
  • Colored pencils
  • Gift cards to their favorite places
  • Puzzles
  • Card games

Reduce the Stress

Thanksgiving can be a stressful event, especially if you’re a mom. Cooking so much food, picking out everyone’s holiday outfits, and making sure the family gets out the door and to the festivities on time can be a lot of work.

In anticipation of this oncoming storm, think of ways to actively combat the stress. You can:

  • Make Thanksgiving an electronic-free day, encouraging everyone to stick together and help each other.
  • Involve the kids in the food prep or at least delegate different responsibilities to each person in the family.
  • Look for shortcuts that won’t offend everyone — no need to make that cranberry sauce from scratch this year!

Read Next | Ask Dr. Gramma Karen: Dreading the Family Thanksgiving Dinner

Take the Party Outside 

The holiday season is a little different this year, given the global pandemic everyone is facing. Gathering in general may be tough, but taking dinner outside can keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive alive, safely! Outside gatherings keeps the air well-ventilated and allows for social distancing.

If you live in a warmer climate, it may be challenging to get into that chilly-on-the-outside, warm-and- toasty-on-the-inside Thanksgiving spirit — but don’t despair! There are still ways to embrace that holiday spirit, even in the warmest of environments.

One of the best ways to beat the heat is to steer right into the issue by taking the party outdoors. Host your Thanksgiving dinner on the porch or patio, set up autumn-themed decorations, and use seasonal lights, flowers, and garlands to dress up the pool area.

Have a Decoration Strategy In Place

Finally, if you’re dreading the shift from Thanksgiving to Christmas in such a short period, you’re not alone. In two months, the Halloween decorations switch out for Thanksgiving alternatives, only to be replaced by Christmas decor before everything is stored away for another nine months or so.

If you’re looking for ways to smooth the constant holiday decorative transitions, consider overhauling your holiday decoration strategy. Try some of the following:

  • Make sure each season’s decorations have their own boxes.
  • Label everything, so you know what comes out at each point in the year.
  • Create a master list of your decorations so that you can remember what you’re working with before you pull everything out.
  • Organize your storage spaces in order to keep everything easily accessible.

If your items are organized and you have a decorating strategy in place, you can fully embrace the Thanksgiving season, knowing that you’ll be able to switch things over to Christmas quickly and efficiently when the time comes.

Get Creative This Year

A non-traditional year means a non-traditional celebration! Take this opportunity to keep your Thanksgiving dinner safe and sanitary and get creative with how you plan it. Decorate some fun turkey masks to keep it festive and safe, individually wrap food servings, and invite those who cannot make it to attend virtually!

You might even divvy up some of the responsibility by making this year’s dinner a potluck! Everyone can bring their own favorite foods, and can even have a non-food ‘potluck’ with a memory, a picture, or some other special item to share.

Spicing Up Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving may feel unusual, but there’s no reason why it can’t be as great as it always is. From setting up thankful trees to organizing decorations, delegating tasks, and giving quality party favors, there are plenty of ways to spice up your Thanksgiving this year.

However you go about it, giving Thanksgiving its due attention is well worth the effort. It allows you and your loved ones to slow down and focus on a time of gratitude and appreciation before the Christmas season kicks off in earnest.

Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.

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