If you dread every holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, because you feel like it exhausts you, then turn the holidays on their head and start a new tradition: celebrate simply and begin this year. Consider trading what you’ve done in the past and not enjoyed for a different standard of what you plan to enjoy.
By focusing on what we enjoy spending our time on and less on what we think we should be doing, the holidays can be much more pleasant. Remind yourself that just because you’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t change how you’re going to celebrate them this year. By keeping celebrations simple, our lives seem less chaotic and we can focus on the things that really matter.
Celebrating Simply: Thanksgiving
Here are some ideas to get you started on celebrating more simply this Thanksgiving:
- discussions and conversations: catch up on last summer’s trip or what fall has been like for your family and friends. Ask lots of questions and not just ones that can be answered with a yes or no.
- music: it always makes the day more festive with music. Make a playlist and enjoy. We usually add holiday music to the mix starting on Thanksgiving.
- decorating: tablecloths and cloth napkins that have a harvest theme are my quick and easy methods to transform our dining room.
- drinks: have plenty of choices available and ready for kids and adults alike.
- fire: have a fire and cozy in while the turkey is cooking.
- games: card games or simple board games that all ages can play are always fun. Charades is another game that puts everyone at ease and always produces lots of laughter.
- assign: give assignments to share in the day. Have your kids set the table or enlist little ones to write out name tags for the table.
Being pressed for time in the kitchen used to be a big obstacle for me when I thought about entertaining for Thanksgiving. The issue of all of the many dishes that had to be done at the same time and all in our little kitchen kept me from embracing the beauty of thankfulness and left me cranky instead.
Our solution became clear when one year we made a Thanksgiving dinner that was so simple and easy, it could practically be served on any Sunday. By simplifying the menu and making recipes that could be made ahead of time or cooking foods outside, we found more peace during the holidays, more enjoyment, and less stress.
Here’s our Thanksgiving day dinner menu – simple and easy:
- turkey – dry brined and barbequed on the Weber grill
- gravy – made with homemade broth and drippings from the grill
- oyster and sausage stuffing – my husband’s signature dish
- mashed potatoes – that you don’t peel and can be made ahead
- cranberry sauce – with orange and ginger that can be made ahead
- fresh green salad with homemade dressing
- pumpkin pie – one with a crust and one without
That’s it. Simple and not too elaborate. Tasty and everything is good the next day also, when you get the day off in the kitchen and can enjoy all of your leftovers.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t make 5 different types of stuffing if because if that’s what you like to do you should. But if you feel like you’re spending all day in the kitchen because you think that’s what people expect, then consider another way. If there is a fancy, involved dish that you like to have for Thanksgiving, you should definitely make it, but then let yourself off the hook for the remainder of the meal.
Where to begin in celebrating simply? Come up with a list of what makes the holidays stressful for you and use that as your starting point. From your list of stressors, think about what you can most easily change or eliminate. By finding solutions to your list and simplifying the holidays, it will be a much more pleasant experience for you – and for everyone else!
How do you like to simplify the holidays? Do you have a dinner menu for Thanksgiving?
Go Gingham related links:
Whole Foods Thanksgiving turkey giveaway – have you entered yet?
Turkey grilling tips from the “Grill Masters” in my life!
Thanksgiving wishes from one year ago and digging for clams
Grilled Thanksgiving turkey from two years ago
Cloth napkins for Thanksgiving that are made from an old skirt
A Thanksgiving tablecloth made with quilting techniques
Pumpkin spice cake this would make a nice dessert at Thanksgiving
11 thoughts on “Celebrating Simply: Thanksgiving”
Yay for a voice of sanity regarding the holidays! Holidays are what we make them. Letting go of my ideas about how they should be has allowed me to make them something I actually enjoy (as opposed to endure).
Yes, it’s so true, Rita. Letting go can be hard but once done, it really becomes clear what’s important. Thanks for the comment!
So glad to see that other people are also ready for a change. This year we are doing thing the simple way so that we can spend more time just enjoying each other. Thanks for the tips.
Pam, you’re welcome. Any way to simplify more and enjoy more sounds like a good plan to me.
We’re also planning a big charades game for Thanksgiving day. That’s always entertaining and gets people laughing – at themselves – which can be lots of fun!
My immediate family consists of two adults and two little rescue dogs. The adults work retail, which means all of Black Friday weekend.
Nearest family is 1-1/2 hours away, one-way. If we go to visit it will be the week after Thanksgiving. It is too much of a rush to go for Thanksgiving Day, and on extremely congested highways.
Karen, this sounds like a good plan – after Thanksgiving to avoid rushing both in life for work and on the road. Turkey tastes good anytime!
I used to work every Thanksgiving weekend, too, and don’t miss the “Black Friday” hustle and bustle. Good luck!
I actually like the cooking, but love when guests ask to bring something – lots of yummy new dishes to enjoy. Now if only guests would ask if they could come over and clean the house beforehand!
I like making things ahead of time (gravy broth from roasted turkey legs a few days before, mashed potatoes kept hot in the slow cooker, using a cooler for all beverages and condiments to keep the refrigerator clear) and having people help when they get there!
Oh, Michelle, please let me know when your guests offer to come over and clean before because I want to invite them to my home!
My trick is to not clean ahead of time – just pick up large items only.
Well, if I don’t wear my reading glasses to look at my house that helps, too. When I wear them around and can actually SEE things, I see how dirty my house is!! No glasses, things look pretty darn good!
Thanks, Michelle. And good job making things ahead of time.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is a simpler holiday–it doesn’t involve the hype that other holidays involve. You are absolutely correct–many, if not most, of the dishes can be prepared ahead of time. Add a pretty tablecloth or runner, a few gourds scattered around, and voila! Instant festivity!
That being said … we are travelling 9 hours away to my in-law’s house so my mother-in-law will bear the brunt of the work! Thanks, mom! 🙂
Kris, how nice of you to travel for Thanksgiving with your family and I’m sure your MIL will consider it a labor of love.
It really is the best holiday for that reason – “it doesn’t involve the hype that other holidays involve.” Good line!
Thanks, Kris. Safe travels.
I am soooo with you on this! It is hard to change when other people expect certain things of you, but you can’t live your life for other people’s pleasure. I am constantly trying to reassess which tasks, jobs, traditions are worthy of keeping. I like hearing how other people do this too! Thanks!
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