How to Have a Stress Free Thanksgiving


Are you stressed out just thinking about preparing your house for the biggest meal of the year. Thanksgiving is the Olympics of entertaining. Preparing for guest, cooking a feast, and maintaining your sanity is a full-contact sport.


If you are hosting the holiday this year you probably feel like you just won the lottery and your prize is feeding the distant relatives you dodge all year. Never fear the  Wize One is here!

I’ve hosted and attended Thanksgiving and I finally have a good flow of enjoying the holidays. I reached out to my Facebook friends and asked if they had any Thanksgiving Woes. Surprisingly I am not the only one who experiences extended family social anxiety

Running Through Thanksgiving with Your Woes! 

Q: I hate being single with no kids and a small family that rarely celebrates the holidays together. It makes me into some sort of charity case for all of my friends. I know they mean well but, I am ok, with having an off day. How do I let them know without being mean?

A: The hostess in me wants to invite you over just to show off my Martha level entertaining skills. If these are just invitations to tag along and be a plate maker then your friends need to understand that if they don’t like dealing with their own family on a holiday, then why would you?

The best defense for the unsolicited invitations is to make your plans sound intentional and fun. “Thanks for the invite girl, but I ordered Thanksgiving from Whole Foods. I plan on eating it and binge-watching Sex and the City.” I am jealous at the thought of you vegging out while I overwork myself in the kitchen.

Q: How do you deal with the same adults who never contribute anything to the meal? They eat everything and make plates to-go before dessert is even served.

A: Nothing stops crass guests like formality. Set up an address book and encourage everyone to sign it. (You know for the memories!!) Next year send out invitations to Thanksgiving and encourage your guest to bring a dessert or covered dish.That way you have made your expectations clear.

As far as this year goes…

If it is at all possible don’t serve dinner on paper plates and keep your aluminum foil out of sight. Set up a to-go station with inexpensive plastic food storage container (bonus portion control!) People will be less inclined to leave with several plastic containers.

It may cost a little more but just think about the cost of paper plates and aluminum foil. Every sheet of aluminum foil is .40 cents and every paper plate is .50, cents. Just imagine yourself handing everyone .90 cents as they leave your house. It also sends a message to the “plate makers” just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean I’m the soup kitchen.  If your hosting with a group family members you all can split the cost of the to-go station or bring containers they don’t mind giving away.

Q: How do you handle being around relatives that are never around because they have made out well for themselves? They have traveled the world and have their dream job now they questions everyone about their accomplishments and make the rest of the family uncomfortable. 

A: Try approaching them first by asking them about themselves and then quickly redirect your attention to somewhere else like the kitchen. At dinner sit them at the kids table and then they can ask the kids what they aspire to be, it’s less offensive.

Q: What do you do when your family is spread out across the country and everyone can’t be together during the holidays?

A: It’s hard not being together during the holidays. Sending everyone the same holiday card can be generic. Add some fun spice in your holiday wishes by doing a card exchange. Send a card and a photo by mail to a family member and give instructions on who to send a card to next. You could also include a small paper gift in the card as well. Sending warm wishes during this season will really be a wonderful surprise in the mail in the midst of a pile of bills.

Q: How do you split time between families? There is just not enough time in one day.

A: Stat early and be realistic. Call everyone to let them know if you will be in attendance for the meal or just coming by for a quick visit. Just try not to skip them on the next holiday.

Q: How can I get my home together so It feels welcoming? Especially since I can’t do as much as I normally do this year.

A: Thanksgiving is not just about the food. If you can’t give a lot in the kitchen remember to fill your home with the smell and the sounds of the holiday. Boil some mulling spices or bake some pre-made cookie dough to fill your house with warm smell.  Lay a few throw blankets on the couch to encourage snuggling. Use what you have on hand to set the table. Even frozen pizza serves well on a well set table.

Q: What is a good way to deal with family shade/tension?

A: Break the ice in a fun way and a play game that everyone can participate in. Don’t be afraid to serve a signature cocktail you may need a drink. If you don’t feel comfortable drinking in front of your older relatives serve a mixed drink in a pitcher and keep the bottles out of sight. Keep the pitcher in the kitchen and share the love with those who would be interested in a cocktail. 

Q: How can I stop being teased about bringing pumpkin pie? I know I’m black and I’m supposed to bring sweet potato but I like it!

A:  Bring an awesome topping to go with the pie. Spike your Cool Whip with a few teaspoons of spiced rum! No one will deny whip cream with a kick!

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