November 22, 2011

Tips for a less stressful Thanksgiving

thanksgiving comic

Yesterday, I did a radio interview with life coach Marsha Dean Walker. We discussed ways on how to keep Thanksgiving stress to a minimum. If you’d like to listen, you can hear the interview at BlogTalkRadio. My portion starts at the 31 minute mark.

I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for my family for the last ten years. When I first started, I had all kinds of Martha Stewart fantasies about how to host the “Perfect” Thanksgiving. I quickly learned that perfection is not reality and that if I wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving, the best thing to do is to let go. Trying to control everything and make things perfect is a recipe for disappointment. These days, I do my best, ask for help, then let the cards fall where they may and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

More tips to cut Thanksgiving stress

– Ask for help with the cleaning or cooking. Don’t try to do everything yourself.

– Cook the main course and ask guests to bring the side dishes and desserts.

– Do your shopping a week in advance and lay the items out in the kitchen grouped by dish so you will know right away if you are missing something.

– Don’t go overboard with side dishes. Quality is better than quantity. Stick
to the basics.

– Portion control – Only cook enough food for the number of guests you will
have. At, you can tweak recipes based on how many servings you need.

– Never, ever, ever try out a new recipe without testing it first.

– Instead of spending money on an expensive centerpiece and placecards for your table, make your own using fall leaves, twigs and/or pinecones you can get for free. Kids love helping with stuff like this.

– Relax. Sit down. Have a glass of wine. Talk and laugh with your guests. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

Do you host Thanksgiving? What do you do to keep the holiday relaxed and stress-free?


  • Deborah Ragno

    As long as all the food makes it from the stove to the table without hitting the floor, I’m happy!  I’m cooking one of our two turkeys (dd smokes the other one at her house next door) on Wednesday so all the turkey mess is cleaned up and gone on Thanksgiving Day.  I keep it moist with broth and reheat it when it is time for dinner (which is 5:00 p.m. because both sons-in-law have to work).  In addition, this year to keep the grandkids more settled, we will have more structure — adults are asked to take time with the children and do a craft or play a game or simply supervise them.  My fridges (yes, I have two) will be cleaned out tomorrow to make room for all the take-home packs everyone will make.  The only thing I’m stressing right now is that my 21.48 lb. turkey has been in the fridge since Saturday and it is still frozen.  THAT could be a problem!  (We are expecting 18 people around the tables.)

  • Jennifer Wasko

    I purchased a CVS gift card and a Subway gift card a few weeks ago.  Does anyone know how to obtain these purchases?  Do they get mailed, or is there something else that I am supposed to do.

    • You need to go to and log in. Mouseover your name and click “My Deals”. There, you will enter your mailing address and claim the gift cards. I just got a shipping notification for my Subway card.

  • Harryc1

    When I worked full time I hosted Thanksgiving & Chrismas.  The only way to survive was to start prepping as much as possible ahead of time and using that freezer.  Roasted my turkey one day ahead, refigerated it, sliced and arranged, added broth.  A few people thought I bought it pre-done!  Ask people to bring dishes you know they are pros at.  Flattery works wonders.  We moved 250 miles away for work, but I do miss everyone at holidays very much.  Even miss hosting but only one holiday would do fine!

  • Harryc1

    To the lady who’s turkey is still frozen, get that gobbler into the sink and into cold water or run cold water over it.  Keep it going until it starts to defrost, dry, put back in fridge.  Repeat tomorrow so Thursday he’s ready.

    • That’s what I need to do today. My bird is taking it’s sweet time thawing out.

  •  Good interview. I chop every thing I will need 2 days ahead of time. I also make anything the before that can be made. Bake the Turkey the morning of Thanksgiving. I have them make their favorite dish to bring over. A lot easier for me.

  • Perd4

    Good Info Karen, I hope you and your Family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Hugs!

  • Wow! That is sensible, sound advice as always. It almost makes me want to host Thanksgiving… almost.

  • andrea burns

    please it was awesome to hear you on the radio !  try whole foods 2.99 merlot house brand smooth as silk 2 buck chuck in ma costs the same no sales tax had one briefly but was repealed by a ballot question. people were drinking less when it happened now back to normal ! thank you i liked the in law table trick no criticism !

  • andrea burns

    funny cartoon !

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