How to Simplify Thanksgiving

simplify thanksgiving

Thanksgiving will look somewhat back to normal this year, which means that you may be back to overwhelmed with all the things it takes to host a good holiday. Cleaning the house, cooking a delicious spread, and refereeing convos between your niece and your dad are all back on the table. Yah?! Yeh, we’re not sure how we feel about this either. But we do have some ideas on how to make this the best Thanksgiving yet.

1. Order your turkey ahead of time.

I LOVE getting my turkey from Outpost Co-Op every year. Sure, it’s organically, happily raised (I honestly think the turkey’s name might be on it’s tag) and all that jazz, but even better, I know there is the exact sized turkey I want waiting for me when I am ready for it. No more fighting for freezer space three weeks in advance just to make sure you get the right sized bird. If Outpost isn’t your jam, check out Kettle Range Meats or even Butcher Box.

2. Lazy Genius your way around the sides.

Let’s start by saying this – we love cooking on Thanksgiving, just like we guess you do. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel overwhelmed the night before when our ambitious menu of brined turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, 14 other sides, homemade rolls and desserts is all still ahead of us.

So with that, this year we thought we’d try to help us all out (yep, of course I’m ordering all these things for my table) by putting four Thanksgiving sides on our menu for delivery the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

You can choose from Green Bean Casserole, Maple Roasted Veggies with Pecans, Brooke’s Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole, and Kicky Cranberry Relish in all our normal sizes: one-, two-, four-, and six-serving portions. We figure this way, everyone can get exactly what they want with minimal dishes on your part. (You will have to mix the chopped veggies with the maple sauce before spreading on a baking pan. The other casseroles will come right in a metal container bound for the oven.)

P.S. We’ll also have our Cheesecake Brownies on the menu on this delivery day. As someone who doesn’t like pie, nor desserts that don’t have chocolate in them, I always feel shafted on Thanksgiving. If this is you too, buy a brownie for your own grand finale.

3. Start Thanksgiving decorating traditions.

If you are at the beginning of your hosting responsibilities (and/or parenthood), then I think you should try this idea for a table runner that gets added to every year.

If you’re further intrenched, what’s worked? Ordering a floral arrangement to pick up when you get groceries? Setting out the same candlestick holders? Bringing out your fancy china the one day a year it gets to see the light? Finding really pretty bamboo plates so everything can be tossed in the compost? Pick one thing that’s really fun, easy, and can be counted on and use that as your base. I’m pretty confident this is one of those things we do for ourselves (and maybe our mother(-in-laws). As long as the food is good, no one cares about the tablescape.

4. Find the football game or otherwise neutral activity.

After a year or more apart, these holidays are bound to be a little dicey when factions come together. Let’s try to stay above the fray by having easy-breezy activities ready to fill the air. This might mean keeping football on the TV, prepping a project for the kids that will require some adult (not you!) assistance, or more talk about the weather. (Bonus points for having a really tasty non-alcoholic drink that might get some of the heavy drinkers to slow down.) I come from a family that gets really deep really fast, but this isn’t the time for that yet, friends. After this long break, we have to try the 5k before the marathon of Extended Family Time.

5. Farm out the rest.

If you’re in charge of Thanksgiving dinner that doesn’t mean you have to be on the hook for everything when you have guests in town. Use our freezer-safe entrees to make the rest of the meals. (Watch out for Meaty Baked Ziti and the infamous Blueberry French Toast Casserole on the Thanksgiving menu!) Have a list of 10 activities that can be done over the weekend prepped, but the rest of the adults make the decision on what to actually do. Stock a fridge with drinks and pantry with snacks and tell your guests to help themselves. If you have this kind of relationship, remind them they can help themselves to putting the dishes in the dishwasher, too.

6. Appreciate the moment.

I’m finding it really easy to fret over the holidays this year. I want the meal to be perfect, everyone to get along great, and to find time to take a nap in the afternoon. Of course this isn’t all bound to happen, but it still will be memorable. Be sure to pause every now and then to take in the mental snapshots that will bring a smile to your face for years to come.

And with that, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to holiday-ing!!