8 Tips (for myself) for Thanksgiving

I hosted my 1st official Thanksgiving meal last year. I’d say it was a huge success. It was thoughtfully planned, well executed, and everyone seemed very pleased with the food. I created a menu that was a mix of old recipes (like my favorite stuffing from childhood) and new ones (like the salted caramel pie I attempted). And heck, I even printed the menu on fancy gold(ish) card stock.

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If I had to describe myself in one word when it came to last year’s Thanksgiving, it would be OVERACHIEVER.

If I were able to use a few more words, I would say stressed out, control freak, and CRAZY. (although these words can also apply to most days in my life)

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved how everything turned out but I remember having a hard time enjoying the day. I was frantically preparing, cooking, and watching the clock.  This year, I hope to spend a little more time relaxing, chatting with my family, and sipping some wine (because I’m finally not pregnant during the holidays – woohoo!).

So as I get ready to host my 2nd Thanksgiving, I want to give myself a few pointers…a few reminders…and a few words of wisdom from what I learned last year.  Here goes nothing…

8 Tips (for myself) for Thanksgiving

1. Plan and Prepare
I did this last year. I started planning a couple weeks in advance. I started menu planning, recipe searching, and grocery list writing.  I will do the same thing this year (I’m actually starting the menu planning today).  Having a plan and being prepared are the only things that got me through the day last year.

2. Ask for Help
I sort of did this last year.  I assigned a few items on the menu to our family members, but I think I’ll try and give up a little more control this year (although I won’t lie, that’s VERY hard for me). Either that, or I’ll make sure that everyone else is in charge of playing with, reading to, or taking care of the girls.  For me, that’s the BIGGEST help I could ask for.

3. Put Less Pressure on Myself
I’m a perfectionist (when it comes to things I love). And I love to cook. Put those together, and hosting Thanksgiving becomes both incredibly exciting and slightly daunting all at the same time. I am SO excited to host it again, but I intend to put less pressure on myself. I’m not Martha Stewart and I’m 99% sure my family isn’t expecting the perfect bird paired with the perfect sides. That being said, last year was pretty well done so I’m sure expectations are relatively high (and I’m 100% sure that my own expectations are higher than anyone else’s). Ugh. Less pressure, less pressure, less pressure.

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4. Remember we don’t have a Double Oven
Someday, in a land far, far away I will have my dream kitchen. It will have a huge island, it will have two sinks, and it will have a DOUBLE OVEN.   When that day comes, Thanksgiving will be even more exciting to prepare for (either that, or I will it’ll become even crazier).  For now, I need to remind myself that I don’t have two ovens, so I need to plan a meal that reflects that simple fact. Less oven needy sides…and speaking of sides…

5. Prepare LESS Sides
I’ll be the first to admit that for 5 adults (and 2 kids who don’t appreciate quality food as much as they should), I prepared too many sides last year. It’s like I thought I was preparing a Thanksgiving meal for an army.  I just kept seeing new, exciting dishes that I wanted to try and somewhere along the way I forgot how few people we had coming over. Trust me, all the sides were delicious, I just need to cut down on the number of sides I create this year.

6. Select an Easy Dessert
I love to COOK. I do not love to bake. Baking is a challenge, which I like, but on a day that’s already challenging, that’s the last thing I need…challenging on top of challenging.  Last year’s pie seemed like a great idea while I was meal planning, but once I actually started preparing it, I quickly realized I was in WAY over my head.

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Maybe this is one of those tasks I can assign to someone else and listen to my advice up at #2…ask for help.  Yeah, I’ll try that.

7. Do Not Print Menus…or Do
I was thinking that printing menus isn’t worth the time and effort.  Then I looked through my recipe book and found a printed menu from last year.  It made me want to print menus again…not so much for appearances sake, but for tradition. How cool would it be if I saved the menus from every Thanksgiving we ever hosted?  That would be so fun to pass along to the girls (or at least to Abby, who is my little sous chef every day at home).  Yep, I’ll probably do that…so much for this tip…

8. Try Not to Cut Myself
Last but not least, this year I’m going to try really hard not to cut myself. I’m going to pay 100% attention to whatever it is I’m working on while wielding a knife (even if that means Caroline is crying or the girls are pulling each others hair – sorry ladies).  I will not let distractions result in blood and bandaids. Thankfully, last year’s cut wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Plus, it made for quite the story considering Abby was watching me chop the sweet potatoes and said, “Mommy, don’t cut yourself!” about 30 seconds before the incident. It’s like she was predicting the future.  Hopefully she doesn’t say, “Mommy, don’t chop your finger off!” this year…

And there we have it.  Those are the reminders I want to give myself as I go into planning this year’s Thanksgiving.

Chances are, the only reminder I’ll obey is #1 (and hopefully #8), but at least I’m trying to make this year’s Thanksgiving a little easier on myself. Hopefully someone else reading this post will follow some of the other tips I shared.

That’s what I’m here for – to help other people simplify their lives while I continue to complicate my own. 😉

Bottom line :: Thanksgiving will be wonderful because we’ll be spending time with family we love, I’ll be in the kitchen doing what I love, and other people will be playing with my kids (and what’s not to love about that).

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Happy Thanksgiving planning, everyone!

Ali

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