Simple Living

13 Ways to Simplify Your Thanksgiving

November 20, 2022
13 Ways to Simplify Your Thanksgiving Blog post- picture of a table covered with different Thanksgiving foods.

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Thanksgiving is almost here. And if you are hosting Thanksgiving for family and friends, it can be a busy and stressful time. But there are things you can do to simplify your thanksgiving that can reduce stress and make it easier to focus on the reason for the day…being thankful for everything in your life!

Here are 13 things you can do to simplify your Thanksgiving!

Clean your house early

Thanksgiving week will be busy, so don’t wait until the last minute to clean your house! Take time the week or weekend before to do a deep clean. Then all you will have to do is some minor cleaning the day before. The days before Thanksgiving are already busy enough. So taking the time to clean early helps simplify your Thanksgiving by taking things off your to-do list at a busy time. That can reduce your stress!

Make space ahead of time

As you are doing your Thanksgiving cleaning, be sure to make plenty of space for all of the additional food! This is a great time to clear off your countertops. Put away any small appliances that will not be used for Thanksgiving so that you have additional workspace and storage space for the foods you will be serving. It is also a great time to clean out your refrigerator. This will ensure you have plenty of space for ingredients you purchase early. And it will give you the space you need to store leftovers.

Consider a Thanksgiving potluck

Growing up, my Mom did everything for our Thanksgiving dinner. But she never really got to enjoy the day much because she was always running around trying to get things done. So as my siblings and I became adults I encouraged her to move to a potluck-style meal. It took a lot of pressure off of her because we all brought elements of the meal. It also helped my parents to not have to pay for the entire meal as well. Once we started doing that, my Mom had a lot more time to sit with us and enjoy her day.

Choose simple dishes

If you are looking to simplify your Thanksgiving, then stick to simple dishes. Most people like classic holiday favorites. You may even have family recipes for family Thanksgiving favorites. This is not a great time to start experimenting with new recipes. The additional stress of adding new recipes isn’t worth it. Stick to tried and true recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Plan the menu

If you are doing a potluck go ahead and plan the menu so that you don’t have several people bringing the same thing! Once my family started doing a potluck, we would create a group chat where we would talk about what we wanted to eat for Thanksgiving. Then we decided who was going to bring which dishes. This always worked very well. We knew what foods were going to be served and we didn’t have multiples of anything.

Limit the food you’re having

This one was actually important for my family. We would talk about all of the different foods we typically wanted for Thanksgiving. And then we asked if there was anything we didn’t really need or want. Every year, there were one or two dishes that the family opted to not include because we already had so much food we were already planning to bring.

Shop early

Once you have your menu planned and know what you are going to be making for Thanksgiving, be sure to head to the store to stockup on ingredients early. Things like frozen turkeys need plenty of time to thaw. And busy stores a day or two before Thanksgiving may run out of items that you need for your Thanksgiving dinner. So create your shopping list and start stocking up on needed supplies a week or more before the big day.

Order food

While this may not be an option for everyone, if you really want to simplify, order the meal, or certain dishes from elsewhere. Plenty of grocery stores, restaurants and other catering businesses offer pre-made Thanksgiving meals. If you don’t need a whole meal, you may be able to purchase certain side dishes for your dinner. Often you pick up ordered food the day before and reheat it the day of.

Prepare some things early

There is nothing worse than scrambling on Thanksgiving to get all of the food done…at the same time! But there are plenty of dishes that you can actually make a day or two in advance. Some things you can make even earlier than that! For instance things like pies can be time consuming to make. But you can bake a pumpkin pie up to a month before Thanksgiving. Allow your pie to cool fully before freezing. Pull out that pumpkin pie the day before Thanksgiving and thaw it out in the refrigerator. Avoid thawing it on the countertop to avoid a soggy crust!

Cranberry sauce is another one that can be made early. Make your homemade cranberry sauce several days before Thanksgiving and store the finish product in the refrigerator. Spreading out your cooking timeline can definitely help to simplify your Thanksgiving and reduce your stress!

Ask for help!

Big events like Thanksgiving dinner are a lot of work. And while you may feel like you have to be superwoman, you don’t! This is the perfect opportunity to delegate and get some help. Enlist your partner/spouse, kids to help you get the house ready or to help with meal prep in the days before Thanksgiving. Ask entrusted family members or friends to come a bit early on Thanksgiving to help with setup or with cooking. And allow all of your guests to pitch in with cleanup! Many hands make light work, and allows you as the host to not be trapped in an endless cycle of kitchen duty! Just because you’re hosting does NOT mean you have to do it all!

Simplify decorations

If you really want to simplify your Thanksgiving, keep your decorations simple! You don’t have to spend hours perusing Pinterest and Instagram trying to find decoration ideas. Or spend even more time shopping at your local craft store buying decorating supplies. Simple can be every bit as beautiful! Look to nature to decorate your table. You can buy some small pumpkins or gourds, get some fall leaves, branches and pinecones from outside and put a few candles in some candleholders for simple Thanksgiving decor that is beautiful too.

Use biodegradable plates and cutlery

You don’t have to pull out the fancy china for your Thanksgiving dinner, unless you really want to do all of those extra dishes! Now more than ever there are some great eco-friendly disposable plates and cutlery available. Then once your dinner is over, people can throw their plates and cutlery away. Or if you compost, have them scrape extra food off of their plate and compost them! It gives you less dishes to wash for less time in the kitchen cleaning up.

Remember what the day is truly about

I think that sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in all of the preparations that you forget what the day is really all about. While most people focus on the food, it is really about being thankful for everything you have. And sharing that thanks with those you care about. When you put your focus on that, it is much easier to simplify your Thanksgiving!



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