The Holidays from Thanksgiving through Christmas is traditionally a time to gather with family and friends over food, isn’t always a time of good feelings and happiness. For some, stress and anxiety worsen as the holidays approach. According to a survey by the American Psychiatric Association, in 2022 about 30% of Americans felt more stressed about the holidays than the previous year. Budget, food prep, and divisive topics were high on the list of potential stressors. On the other hand, studies show that positive family relationships can be vital for well-being throughout a person’s life. Family is always family, so building and maintaining positive family connections may help your live a long, healthy life.
Here are some ways to eliminate holiday stress and focus on what really matters: family and friends. As you look through this list, find items that help you ease the pressure of hosting a family gathering and ideas for making the holiday more meaningful.
Make the prep part of the party.
A huge factor in Thanksgiving stress for a host is the preparation. Getting your home ready for guests can mean days of work in your already busy life. However, you can cut down on your prep work and add to the fun of the holiday by including others. If you have the space in your kitchen, have some friends or family over to help prepare the Thanksgiving feast. A small kitchen doesn’t have to keep you from sharing the joy, though. Consider hosting a video call and working in your separate kitchens together. Don’t feel guilty about sharing the load of Thanksgiving prep. You will enjoy your day more and create a more relaxed, inviting atmosphere for your guests.
Ditch cleanup duty.
Cleaning up afterward can often be as stressful and tiring as preparing everything. Stacks of dirty dishes, a laundry basket of cloth napkins, and a rug full of Thanksgiving crumbs are daunting tasks to face when everyone has finally gone home. Instead, ease the pressure and consider using disposable dishes and napkins. You can find a whole range of disposable dishes at your local grocery store. Sacrificing formality is not necessary when switching to disposable dishes either. More and more brands offer compostable options, as well, so you can still make an environmentally-friendly Thanksgiving celebration without the hassle afterward.
Focus your menu.
Many traditional Thanksgiving dinners feature a variety of dishes so numerous that the food barely fits on the table. Save yourself time, stress, and money by choosing a few preferred dishes. You may be surprised by how much easier the holiday is simply by cutting out some of the sides and desserts. Another option to save yourself time on cooking is to host a Thanksgiving potluck. This might be an especially good option if people have a whole range of favorites and cutting back won’t be easy. If you take on the difficult task of the turkey and stuffing, you may find others very willing to help with the sides and desserts.
Shop for shortcuts.
If you are having little success with the potluck or there are still unnerving lists of foods to prepare, consider if there are some that can be purchased readymade. Pies are an easy and appetizing option to buy from a grocery store. Some shops have delicious cranberry sauces and salads in their delis, too. You may find some mixes for stuffing or potatoes that save time and still taste delicious. You can find more and more healthy, enticing mixes and readymade dishes to serve on your Thanksgiving table.
Make Way for New Traditions
Holidays are great times to practice traditions and enjoy time together. However, don’t rule out new customs and habits this year.
Pass on family recipes.
Thanksgiving is a perfect holiday to spend time together as a family even before the big meal. Bring your kids and family members into the kitchen. This time of bonding can strengthen your family unit, and it can be a great way to pass along family recipes and pieces of family culture. Find parts of the recipes that each age can participate in, even if it’s helping collect ingredients or peeling vegetables. You may want to choose family favorites to help increase the fun and enjoyment of the process.
Give back to your community.
Consider ways to give back to your community this holiday season. With historic inflation, many are struggling to make ends meet. Think about making it a holiday tradition to volunteer together at a food shelf or donate food or money to organizations at work in your community. What a great way to show your thankfulness for the good things you have by sharing some of that good with others around you. It can also be a great time to bond with family and friends.
Have fun together.
Look for fun ideas for your family to take part in Thanksgiving weekend. Don’t just eat together and then scatter. Instead, consider a group game or a walk together. Your family may enjoy putting jigsaw puzzles together or going on a scavenger hunt. Look at pictures from the year or from past Thanksgivings. Spend time sharing stories and memories from the year. You may find this season more meaningful and less stressful if you find ways to focus on family and friends.
Learn something new.
Another way to spend meaningful time together could be learning something new together. Maybe someone from your family or friends has a skill which the whole group would enjoy learning. You may consider inviting them to teach everyone. Another option would be to investigate something together that’s new to everyone. Creating some homemade fall decorations together or learning to knit a winter hat may be a pleasant way to bring the family together this Thanksgiving.
Freshen up your thankfulness.
This may not be a new tradition, but it can still be a worthwhile activity for Thanksgiving. Give your guests time and space to think through a few items for which they are thankful. Adding a twist to make it into a game may freshen up this traditional Thanksgiving activity. You could have everyone write their thankfulness lists on sticky notes and create a Thanksgiving gallery wall. You could also turn it into a guessing game, where everyone must draw or act out what they are most thankful for. Another way to make your thanksgiving sharing more unique might be to create a thankfulness collage together. Everyone could choose magazine clippings, fall leaves, or pictures to glue together with all of the written thankfulness notes.
This article was based on a post by Chinet.