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Is it me? Or is the phrase "Surviving the Holidays" taking over print, web, and worst of all our minds.

Is it really that bad during the holidays that we actually need to brace ourselves for survival?

I love my family, but there are a lot of us, and with grandparents losing their marbles, with parents aging, and little rascals running around the dinner table, it can get challenging. Challenges are something that we live with daily, so this year I made a promise to myself- instead of "Surviving the holidays", I'll be enjoying them.

This year, I'll be focusing on being grateful for my big family, for having my grandma and grandpa sitting at our dinner table, for the little children running around making my puppy crazy. I will enjoy looking at my father trying to cut the turkey, until my mom takes over and shows him how it's really done. I'm going to enjoy my children hovering over their grandparents and great grandparents. (Yes, the roles have changed) I'm going to enjoy the food that will take two days to prepare and a week to lose.

This year will not be stressful, because this year I have a plan, and everyone in my family got my  "Memo".

turkey thanksgiving

Tips on Thriving vs. Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner.

Plan ahead, and involve everyone in your house. This is a family event, and if your kids are old enough to walk, they are old enough to help.

Obtain a folder and name it "Thanksgiving." In this folder you want to keep copies of recipes, guest lists, notes, table arrangements, centerpiece ideas, and anything else that has to do with your party. You can keep reusing this folder for years to come.

Make a list of everything that needs to be bought and pulled from storage, the garage, or upper shelves.

Don't leave for tomorrow what you can do today.

Do as much as possible ahead of time, so that you will be stress free on the day of the party.

Plan on decorating the outside of your home to make guests feel welcome. You should decorate with the spirit of the season in mind.

Think through all of the decorations for the inside of your home. Visit various websites to get decorative ideas, recipes, and games.

Design a menu and a guest list for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Decide on your perfect centerpiece and make sure you have everything you need. Ordering centerpieces ahead of time is always a good idea if you are not making them yourself.

Make invitations, or simply pick up the phone and invite all of your guests personally.

Now for the hard part, arrange your guests at the dinner table in a way where everyone enjoys each other's company. This is always a stressful chore!

Check your china, utensils, linens, etc.

Think of serene background music to play at the party. Don't forget to make sure your audio equipment is working correctly.

Make a detailed list of the cooking schedule. You will need to know at what time you are making pies, salads, and baking your turkey.

Cheers to you and your family.
Happy Thanksgiving.

I encourage you to add to my list if you have other ideas, suggestions or tips on how to be productive without the stress.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Nov 21, 2008
    • Brilliant game plan, Yana! I love how you’ve incorporated a level of efficiency into what could be so chaotic!

      Scott and I had actually planned to do an “early” Thanksgiving when his daughter was in town from Canada (and then we’d be released from any responsibility on the actual day) but that plan fell through completely. Then the phone calls started with “what are y‘all doing for Thanksgiving” and before I knew it there were eight of us that I needed to plan for.  

      We’ve simplified it to the extreme: We announced that our Thanksgiving was going to involve going to a semi-fancy brunch and whoever would like to come was invited. No mess, no fuss, no problem.

      Thanks for sharing your plans with us!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Nov 21, 2008
    • Thank you for a working list, Yana. I need this. This is an insane time of year for me and I really want to have more enjoyment than normal. You list puts it in perspective and gives me some tools to work with.

      I love the comment on your father trying to carve the turkey and your mom taking over!

      My challenge is to keep my husband from eating half of the turkey while he’s carving it, “a slice for me, a slice for the platter, another slice for me......” you get the picture.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Stephanie Wolf wrote Nov 21, 2008
    • I’m not sure if I’m even surviving this year.  My father has been in and out of the hospital/rehab for 3 month, only to come home for 3 months, then yesterday, November 20, he was back in the hospital again.
      Looks like Thanksgiving is on hold for this year.
      Hopefully next year will be better!!!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Bobbi Bacha wrote Nov 21, 2008
    • Im always doing both.

      Yana, you will be pleased, Ive decorated and done all the above, Ive been baking, I have all the tables prepared and have a guest list of 80 and counting.  The menu is extensive and Im looking forward to seeing all my family for the Holidays.  I throw a huge Thanksgiving every year.  I think we will have more this year due to Hurricane Ike.  We have family , friends, neighbors, anyone is invited as long as they bring a hot dish on our list and its must be homemade, and a dessert.

      Im cooking Turkey, dressing, cranberry salad, and Walnut Cake.

      We have Croquete and Horseshoes for family to play on the greens.

      Nice Post Yana.  Enjoy your Holiday.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Nov 21, 2008
    • Feathermay, great plan, for the past 8 years we were in Cabo San Lucas, it was grilled fish instead of turkey for me and I loved it. I guess after 8 years of no cooking I can handle it.

      Cynthia, I know what you mean about your hubby, that is exactly why my mom has to take over, no one ever gets served. LOL


      Hang in there, and believe in miracles, there are lot of us here and will all be praying for your father.

      Greenlady,  YOU GO GIRL, looks like you are all ready to enjoy the day.

      Happy Almost Turkey Gals!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Julie Graves wrote Nov 22, 2008
    • Hi Yana,  

      I will be traveling to Arizona to spend the holidays with my husbands family and was thinking that they would do all the cooking. After reading your post, I realized that we can all pitch in and let our kids enjoy the feelings of being a part of a larger whole.  

      I hope everyone is blessed with good health and a lot of love this year.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Chrissyandcoco wrote Nov 22, 2008
    • We are having turkey day in two places. We are celebrating life this year as we are thankful for another day with aging and ill parents and new births. We split the holidays up each year.  We are headed to Nashville for the BIG Thanksgiving lunch with my husband’s family this year and on to my folks that evening 7 hours away.  Usually Thanksgiving is at our home so I will enjoy the rotation being elsewhere!  I will still be making lots of goodies over the next few days and traveling a lot.  I am beginning to prepeare for our parties and family’s arrival to our home for Christmas!  YIPPY! Blessing to each of you always!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Marie Hempsey wrote Nov 22, 2008
    • Brilliant Yana,
      I always try to thrive rather than survive. The holidays are special to me. Thanks for this !

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Carine Nadel wrote Nov 23, 2008
    • this is why we do Potluck!  my sister’s home is the biggest, but we all bring a dish or two.  we have a huge amount of people, so we all have to pitch in and do our share.  we use paper plates and stuff, and even w/ that mom,sister and I are exhausted for the rest of the weekend.

      but we try

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kaymoon wrote Nov 23, 2008
    • Enjoyed your post, Yana! Thanks for the wonderful tips. This year I’m getting as much done beforehand as I can. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it! I also have two girls who have birthdays Thanksgiving week. We will throw in a birthday cake along with the pumpkin pie. I look forward to the giggles around the table and relatives who drive me crazy but who I love in the same dose. Above all, I’m thankful!!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      Dorraine, Author of novel, Jack Rabbit Moon

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cherylk wrote Nov 24, 2008
    • GREAT idea! Because of your suggestion I have decided to ‘thrive’ in spite of my usual and additional challenges this holiday season. Thank you!

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