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How to Survive the Family Thanksgiving Party

Updated on October 22, 2009

Thanksgiving is known for being the low-key holiday, but it’s not as easy as you think. Ghouls, ghosts, and witches appear on Halloween. You brave the trick-o-treaters, you faithfully sew costumes for your own goblins, and you light scary jack-o-lanterns. Then after the pumpkins are put away, Thanksgiving rushes in. It won’t take you long to realize that participating in a big family Thanksgiving can be just as frightening as those costumed candy-crazed sprites that recently vacated your doorstep. Here are some tips on surviving your family Thanksgiving and escaping with your sanity (mostly) intact.

Decide what you want from Thanksgiving.
You are unlikely to get what you want from your family Thanksgiving if you don’t know what you want. Before Thanksgiving arrives, grab a piece of your favorite pie and a warm drink and think about what your ideal Thanksgiving with your family will look like. Are there specific activities you want to do together—play sports, watch the parade, go shopping? Once you decide what will make you happiest, check with members of your family to make plans to do these things.

Don’t let others rope you in to doing things you don’t want to do.

Family gatherings are a joint effort, so if you’re in, make sure you contribute in some way. Bring a side dish, watch the kids, or supply an activity for your family. But do not let your family members coerce you into going above and beyond by doing things you don’t want to do. Don’t worry about things you feel you “should” be doing, or obligations you feel you have. If spending all day at the mall is not your idea of a good time the day after Thanksgiving, do not let others push you into it. Stick to your ideas about your ideal holiday and allow others to pursue their own. Everyone will be happier doing what they want to do.


Minimize gift buying.

Financial stress is a major source of frustration over Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, consider performing nice tasks for your loved ones rather than purchasing a gift. This will save you money, crowd-fighting, and hassle, and will also create a holiday memory that will be more meaningful to you and your loved ones than a store bought gift would be. So make a photo collage, bake cookies, or write a letter to your family members telling them what you most appreciate about them and your relationships.



Image Credit: Kevin N. Murphy, Flickr



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  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

    Other family members contributions mean the world to me as I just can't do the whole meal anymore and there is such a good feeling when we all take part in the planning and the meal.