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How to Have a Stree-Free Thanksgiving

Updated on March 27, 2017
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I'm a YouTuber, composer, photographer, writer, and homemaker. Living in Fort Wayne, IN with my husband, Sage, and two children.

How to Have a Stress Free Thanksgiving
How to Have a Stress Free Thanksgiving | Source

Article and photo's by Rain San Martin

What causes you the most stress during Thanksgiving?

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Prepare for a Simple Thanksgiving
Prepare for a Simple Thanksgiving | Source

Keep Thanksgiving Simple

Unless you're entertaining for a boss or large church event scrap everything you feel obligated to do on Thanksgiving and start over. You'll never be able to please everyone. Relax and begin with a clean slate. Ask your immediate family what expectations they have. If your in-laws or parents and siblings will be attending, clarify their deepest desires for the holiday. It may surprise you that the painstaking homemade stuffing recipe, passed on from your grandma, is only eaten out of obligation. Maybe all they want is some good ol' Stove Top Stuffing!

Top Causes of Stress During Thanksgiving

  • Over-scheduling
  • Your home is in chaos
  • Cooking marathon
  • Busting budget
  • Family feuds
  • Knowing that Christmas is just around the corner
  • Gaining unnecessary weight because of overeating
  • Comparing your cooking to others
  • Fear of being judged, for buying a store bought pie.
  • Fear of preparing a dry turkey

How to Minimize Stress On Thanksgiving

Preparing a Simple Thanksgiving Dinner

Step #1 Minimize expectations

Your mom may have had the tradition of making homemade apple pie crust, set the table with customized name tags and transferred every cooked dish into an elegant serving tray, but those are her traditions, not yours. Perhaps you prepared homemade stuffing and someone at the table made a comment about the side dish being dry. These thoughts alone, swimming in your mind may be just enough to make you want to skip Thanksgiving altogether. However, you don't have to let others dictate the kind of celebration your family will enjoy. Your spirit will be more authentically hospitable when you don't resent your traditions. Speak with each family member individually and ask them what truly means the most to them. Take one or two ideas from each person and scrap the rest. Most importantly, give yourself room to make mistakes and have a carefree attitude.

Step #2 Plan meal ahead

On your day off casually look through magazines, cookbooks or websites for Thanksgiving meal inspiration. Allow time to go into playful exploration, seeking one or two interesting recipes for the Holiday. The majority of the foods you set out should be simple.

Step #3 Shop ahead early

Have you ever waited until two days before the big meal to do your grocery shopping? Were you shocked that the canned cranberry sauce, sparkling apple cider, and stuffing mix were all cleaned out? This could be your fate if you wait until the last minute. Also thoughts of "the big shopping day" will be looming in your mind, better to knock it out 1-2 weeks in advance and freeze your fresh ingredients.

  • Turkey Tip
    The safest way to thaw a turkey is to do so in the refrigerator. Allow one day of thawing for every 5 pounds. On the author suggests cutting the cooked turkey in advance and placing the slices in a dish that you warm in the oven.

Flylady Explains How to Have a Stress Free Holiday Season

Tips For a Stress Free Thanksgiving

  • Scale back on all non-essential activities leading up to a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Kids sleepovers and volunteer work should be minimized to guard against burn out.
  • Delegate tasks. If you're having guests, do a potluck style dinner. Yet don't be tempted to let people in the kitchen while your cooking if it would cause additional stress.
  • If it's just you and one other person consider going to a local restaurant for Thanksgiving Dinner. Sometimes family has moved away and the idea of preparing a whole thanksgiving meal seems silly. You can delegate the task by going to a restaurant and you may feel less lonesome.
  • Avoid talking about issues or politics. If a concern needs to be addressed, save it for another time. Make Thanksgiving a time a peace.

Thanksgiving dinner on a plate. Turkey leg, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce and Pillsbury crescent rolls with butter.
Thanksgiving dinner on a plate. Turkey leg, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce and Pillsbury crescent rolls with butter. | Source

Declutter Your Home Before the Holidays

Declutter your home throughout the year so it's company ready.

It may surprise you how much you don't mind having guests when your house is reasonably clean and de-cluttered. If you make your home feel like a Bed and Breakfast, not only will you be rewarding your family, you'll be giving yourself the gift of a clean home in the process.

How to Avoid Gaining Weight During the Holidays

The holidays should never be an excuse for weight gain. Aim to be toward the bottom of your weight fluctuation range before a weekend holiday party or a major gathering.

Do bonus workouts. On those days that you know you will be eating a little more food than usual, do an additional post-dinner neighborhood speed walk for 20 minutes, then a 20 minute weightlifting session. No late snacking.

Skip beverages with your meal. Try to pass on beverages during the meal as they will make you extra full.

Eat the foods you crave the most, minimize the ones you don't. When filling up your plate focus on the foods you really love. Minimize portions of food that you consider so so. For example on Thanksgiving Day let's say your favorite part of the meal is Pillsbury Crescent Rolls with butter, don't feel bad that you prefer them over your Great Aunt Helga's green bean casserole. Just serve yourself two bites worth of green beans and have 2 crescent rolls. "But that will offend Helga!" Never overeat out of obligation and have fun with your favorite foods, but don't overeat. Gluttony is never appropriate. When you eat the foods you crave most, you're less likely to overindulge with other foods as you will be satisfied.

Skip seconds and don't overeat. It's common for people to stuff themselves with seconds and thirds. If you follow a typical Thanksgiving tradition, you will be having delicious pumpkin or pecan pie with creamy whip cream within a couple of hours of your meal anyway. It makes sense that you may eat a slightly larger portion than unusual because of the holiday celebration, but don't punish your body with indigestion and weight gain. Gluttony is also wasteful.

"Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door." -Ezekiel 16:49

"The parents must say to the elders, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard." - Deuteronomy 21:20

Aim to eat your Thanksgiving meal in the early afternoon. When you eat closer to lunch time you allow for more hours in the day to burn off the large meal. Our bodies metabolize food at a slower rate in the evening hours. Eat the majority of your day's calories by lunch time. Dinners should be extremely lite and as early in the evening as possible.

Thanksgiving is About Giving Thanks

Be encouraged knowing you don't have to do anything you don't want to this Thanksgiving. Make your own traditions. Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with loved ones and remember the blessings in your life. People matter more than decorations, disagreements or the fear of being judged. Take the time to express your love for one another and journal about your joys. There are golden moments that can be gathered daily if you look for them. If you have a peaceful attitude, simplify, and have a health consciousness outlook you can have a joyful and memorable Thanksgiving.

© 2013 Rain San Martin


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    • rainsanmartin profile image

      Rain San Martin 3 months ago from Fort Wayne

      So happy this helps. Enjoy the Holiday!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 3 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Great article on celebrating Thanksgiving without feeling stressed. Thanks for the useful tips.


    • rainsanmartin profile image

      Rain San Martin 4 years ago from Fort Wayne

      A food log is a great idea, keeps you accountable!

    • trailrunner7 profile image

      trailrunner7 4 years ago

      Great ideas! I especially like the admonition that gluttony is wasteful and leads to indigestion and weight gain. However, not a fan of avoiding late night eating! Just need to not overdo it and eat light. I like to be comfortable at all times, and hunger isn't comfortable! Calories count and too many do lead to weight gain, so we need to make wise choices throughout the day. A food log is key and also plenty of exercise. I find calorie counting apps and websites to be a great tool in keeping track of how many calories you actually consume and how many you burn through exercise. It can be a real eye opener!