3 Tips for Creating a Simple and Successful Thanksgiving

family smiling and preparing to having dinner together
Nov 11, 2021 | Sara Khaki

When I was a little girl, my parents loved opening their home to our friends and family on holidays. With all of those guests coming and going, I learned how to be a hostess from an early age. Before long, I was planning events with confidence! I have wonderful memories of the holidays in our house and what a warm, inviting place it was. Today, I try my best to recreate that feeling in my own home — especially on Thanksgiving. I might be the only person you know who not only doesn’t mind hosting on Turkey Day but actually looks forward to it. If you’re hosting as well and you’re a little bit nervous, here are a few tips that have helped my dinners succeed in the past.

1.) Remove the Bells and Whistles

Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing about Thanksgiving?” and put that front and center so you’re not overwhelmed. If it’s vital for you that all of the food is made from scratch with family recipes, for example, then focus on cooking instead of decorating a beautiful table! In my house, the gathering trumps the food, so I could order a premade turkey and be happy as long as the whole family was there.

2.) Ask Guests to Pitch In

There’s nothing sacrilegious about asking for help! One reason I never get stressed about Thanksgiving is that we do it potluck style. I provide the turkey and a few sides, and our guests bring their dishes of choice. It takes the pressure off, and everyone is guaranteed to have something they like to eat.

3.) Make Everyone Comfortable with Simple Touches

You don’t have to learn how to sculpt your napkins into turkeys or use calligraphy on your place cards to make Thanksgiving feel special. In my experience, warm candlelight through the house, some nice soft music, and the smell of good food is enough to make guests comfortable.

Bonus Tip: Let Go of Perfection!

Things are never 100% perfect when I host Thanksgiving, and that’s okay. I just try to go into the event with a flexible vision and a good attitude. No one wants to be around a host who is tense and overwhelmed, and it’s not fun being that person, either.

Of course, the holiday can get a little more complicated if you’re divorced and have to share custody of your kids. In that situation, the best thing you can do is stick to your parenting plan. If you feel guilty about not being able to spend the holiday with your child, try not to project that onto them. Odds are they already feel bad about leaving you behind.

It’s also important not to be disappointed or resentful if you plan something special for your child and they don’t react the “right” way. Divorce can kick up a lot of complicated emotions for kids, so try to be patient and aware of that and help make them feel comfortable talking to you.

Hopefully, these tips make “surviving”

Thanksgiving a bit easier.

Happy Holidays!

-Sara Khaki

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