10 Steps to a Relaxing Thanksgiving


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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Family, friends, good food – and no presents to buy. To make it your best holiday ever, consider these organizing tips:

  • Choose your preferred style: formal with everyone dressed up and using their best manners – or a more informal relaxed style. If you’ve invited more people than your dining table will seat, decide whether to add extra tables or a set up a buffet and use couches and occasional chairs for seating. Arrange for extra chairs if necessary.

  • Keep in mind the ages of the people involved – and choose a time for the meal that will fit their needs – young children may get too tired if you wait to sit down at 1:00 pm. Consider seating for children based on ages. Teenagers might enjoy the day more seated together.

  • Ask guests to identify their favorite dish – include as many of them as possible. (If someone wants a pecan pie, and you don’t like to bake them, check out your local restaurant or bakery. ) Don’t assume you have to do everything – why not invite guests to bring a favorite dish? (Or ask them to bring a table centerpiece or bottle of wine. )

  • Plan your menu well in advance, make a shopping list, and purchase non-perishables at the same time you do your regular shopping. If you’re planning to use a fresh turkey, place your order early.

  • Get out the table linens before Thanksgiving morning – make sure you have the sizes you need, and check to see if they need to be laundered, or ironed.

  • Select table decorations. If you have children, involve them in the planning and execution of the celebration. (My children loved to make turkey cookies!) Consider disposable Thanksgiving napkins.

  • To save clean-up time, or if the family china is insufficient to accommodate the guest list, attractive holiday disposable tableware is a viable option. Be sure you have enough serving dishes and utensils for the quantities you will be serving.

  • If you’re having a sit-down dinner, consider setting your table the day before to minimize last-minute stress. Make a checklist of things to be done on Thanksgiving day in order or priority.

  • Determine your clean-up strategy prior to dinner. Do you want everyone to chip in and help – or would you prefer to spend the time with the family – and clean it up when they’re gone?

  • When the day is over, make notes about anything you wish you had done differently – file your notes away for next year, and give Thanksgiving for another special day.

    © Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com

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