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Simplifying Thanksgiving

Growing up, I never quite understood why my mom didn’t enjoy the holidays as much as we did. Now I know. I know it’s difficult to sink into the moment and have fun when you’re making sure everyone is fed, the house isn’t torn apart, and the kids don’t overdose on sugar.

While chatting about Thanksgiving at LYB, we began to think about ways to simplify Thanksgiving dinner so we can focus on the moment instead. Here are a few suggestions we came up with:

1) Outsource at least some of the meal

Most people don’t think twice about buying a pre-made pie. Why not buy more pre-made items? Many gourmet supermarkets offer whole Thanksgiving dinners ready for you to throw in the oven. If you’re not crazy about having nothing homemade, why not focus on making the dish that is most central to your family dinner--like the recipe that has been passed down through generations or your family’s favorite dishes? You can also buy items from your favorite restaurants or bakeries—something that might feel more special than getting a meal from a supermarket, however gourmet.

2) Potluck

So often we feel the need to take care of every single detail if we’re hosting Thanksgiving, but the truth is most of our guests wouldn’t mind and would perhaps even enjoy bringing a dish. Take it a step further and organize a bona fide Thanksgiving potluck where the whole meal is an amalgam of dishes.

3) Focus on the feeling

Who says we must have turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans and corn pudding on Thanksgiving night? If your family loves Thanksgiving dinner and looks forward to it every year, then this suggestion is not for you. But if your family has other favorites that are easier for you to whip up, why not suggest having a dinner around those items instead? For example, a delicious chili, a hearty pasta, oven-baked fish? If your family has a favorite menu ask them whether they mind having that instead with a few touches of Thanksgiving (cranberry sangria or cider; store-bought pumpkin pie; corn on the cob). Add to the feeling by adding easy, store-bought table decorations that represent the holiday. Everyone will have a great meal and you will have more time to focus on being grateful and spending quality time with loved ones. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving should be all about?

What tips do you have to simplify Thanksgiving? Please share!

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