Thanksgiving can be stressful and we can lose sight of what’s important. With some easy steps, you can have a stress-free Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving can be a very stressful time, especially if you are hosting. The turkey always takes longer to thaw and to cook than planned, the store is always out of an ingredient you have to have, the potatoes boil over, someone gets sick, the list of things that can and often do go wrong is endless.
Usually, around the week of Thanksgiving, I start hearing people talk about how stressed they are. They haven’t planned well and now have a lot of cleaning, cooking, and other prep-work to do.
It doesn’t have to be like that though. There are some steps you can take to have a stress-free Thanksgiving though. Holidays should be enjoyable for everyone involved, not just the ones sitting on the sofa watching football.
Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Have a plan and write it down.
I know you are thinking you will just remember. Especially if you do the same thing every year. Surely you can just do it from memory right? Wrong!
When things get busy the last thing we want to do is just rely on our memory. And no that scrap piece of paper you put some notes on is not likely enough either.
You want to have a real, solid, and detailed plan. Even better, check out my Thanksgiving planner and putting it on a clipboard or in a binder.
You can also use your phone, just make sure it’s something that won’t get lost. And check out the free 3-day Organized Thanksgiving email course to help you stay on track.
Give your kitchen a good deep cleaning at least a week ahead.
Even if you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving it’s a good idea to have the house nice and clean. A clean home tends to help reduce our stress and then if you have last-minute guests, which can happen when the family is in town, you won’t be rushing around.
Also, make sure your fridge is clean and as empty as possible. You’ll need to do some more cleaning closer to the day but if you have the deep cleaning done ahead of time it will be much easier.
Prep food ahead of time.
Many Thanksgiving dishes can even be made weeks ahead and frozen. Many casserole side dishes work well for this, even homemade cranberry sauce (I divide my recipe and leave half in the freezer for Christmas.) and homemade rolls.
Just remember to thaw in time. Also, cutting up any veggies ahead, shredding cheese, and tasks like that can make a big difference.
Anything you can prep ahead of time will make your day so much better. This is another reason having a plan is a good idea. If you have your menu done way in advance you can take time to see what can be made ahead.
Have guests bring a dish.
In my family, Thanksgiving is always a potluck. We have a large family and one person cooking all of the food would be a nightmare.
Everyone signs up ahead of time for what they want to bring making it easier and more affordable for all involved. If a potluck isn’t your thing at least consider asking guests to bring a dessert or appetizer.
You can even order food from a bakery or local grocery store. Don’t feel like you have to make everything or that it all has to be from scratch. I’ve made that mistake many years, it’s not worth it.
Don’t try new recipes on Thanksgiving.
If you want to try something new test it out before Thanksgiving. You don’t want the stress of a new recipe that doesn’t turn out. Small changes to recipes you’ve used are okay but avoid totally new dishes on the day of.
Trial runs are often fun anyway. Plan some of these dishes into your normal weekly meal plan so you kill two birds with one stone.
Use Pinterest with caution.
Pinterest is great for finding recipes but it can also lead to an overcomplicated menu in no time. Try to stick to simple but delicious recipes.
Thanksgiving is all about comfort food, it doesn’t need to be fancy. I cook Thanksgiving dinner for my husband, my in-laws and myself and have been known to plan several side dishes and multiple desserts. This causes unnecessary stress. Now I just stick to everyone’s favorites.
Plan for leftovers.
Thanksgiving leftovers can get old quickly if you don’t have a plan to use them in creative ways. This is when Pinterest can be your friend. One of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey and vegetables is in a pot pie.
You can find recipes for just about every type of leftover. Print off some of the ones that sound good and stick them in your Thanksgiving planner.
If you are really sure you will have these leftovers get the other ingredients you will need for the dishes using your leftovers so you won’t have to go grocery shopping soon after Thanksgiving.
Clean as you go.
Fill and sink with hot soapy water and have the dishwasher empty. Also, have a rag and all-purpose spray sitting nearby ready for spills. I like to also have a clean towel on my shoulder since I’ll be washing my hands a lot and always seem to need a towel.
The more cleanup you can do while you are working the less time you will spend cleaning after.
Ask for help!
You don’t have to do it all. Even if it’s as simple as asking guests to take their plates to the kitchen. Some guest may also be better at some tasks than others. Try and ask guests to do things you know they like and do well.
I know when I’m at someone’s house for an event like Thanksgiving I want to help. I will usually ask if there is something I can do. If someone asks you take them up on it!
This is your holiday as well and you deserve time to enjoy it. You don’t want to ask your guests to vacuum your living room or something but asking if they will stir a pot for you while you get something out of the oven is appropriate at most Thanksgiving meals.
Remember why you are celebrating.
The most important thing is to spend time with your loved ones. It’s hard to do that if you are stressed and in the kitchen all day. Ask for help when needed and give yourself grace! Thanksgiving mishaps often make the best stories so if they happen, try to just laugh it off and roll with it.
In my family, it’s become a running joke that it’s not Thanksgiving until the potatoes boil over. My mom and I both often do ours in the Instant Pot now and I think we almost miss being able to ask each other if they have boiled over yet. With this joke we are no longer stressed when it happens we just laugh.
So take a deep breath and remember the good going on around you. This is not a time for perfection, it’s a time for loved ones and to be thankful for all we have.
Another part of Thanksgiving that can be stressful is the cost. Check out Thrive Market for some really great deals on natural Thanksgiving ingredients. They have everything from turkey brine to gluten-free stuffing.
Don’t forget to sign up below for the free Organized Thanksgiving course. It will give you even more helpful tips.