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Have a happy -- and stress-free -- Thanksgiving

Tips for making the most of the day with the least amount of stress

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  5840 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

Thankgiving is my favorite holiday: It has all the fun of family togetherness, plenty of great food, and nothing to wrap (or unwrap) but leftovers.

Big gatherings are a major source of stress for many people, though, and for busy working moms who already have plenty on their plates, cooking a 20-pound turkey and dealing with guests from out-of-town is enough to bring on the heart palpitations.

Relax. Take a deep breath. Here are a few tips for a low-stress -- dare we say "stress-free"? -- Thanksgiving, whether you're the guest or the host.

If you're spending the holiday at someone else's house:

1.) Ask your host or hostess what you can bring. If they say, "Oh, nothing. Just yourselves!" ignore them and bring something anyway -- a bottle or two of wine (The Wine Trials can help you choose), a side dish, an easy-to-serve hors d'oeuvre, or one of these great hostess gifts. If you'll be spending the night, consider bringing something that will make the morning after easier for your host.

2.) Keep the kids entertained. There are plenty of travel toys to keep tots happy, and all of them work just as well indoors as they do in the car. Worst case scenario: Bring your kids' favorite DVDs and a portable DVD player.

3.) Offer to help. Your hostess may not need an extra set of hands in the kitchen beforehand, but chances are there'll be plenty to do once the dishes have been cleared.

If you're hosting Thanksgiving at your place:

1.) Know thyself. Are you the kind of cook who goes for the tried-and-true when company comes? Or do you pick up a cookbook and try something new? Either way, figure out what you want to serve well before the big day, so that you have plenty of time to shop and don't have to deal with the added stress of crowds at the store. There are plenty of recipes, tips, and resources online.

2.) Outsource the bird. Many high-end grocery stores offer ready-made Thanksgiving dinners with all the fixings; make the fixings yourself, but consider having them do the turkey. It may take up a bit of space in your fridge, but it'll free up the oven on Thanksgiving Day, and you'll be grateful to have one less thing to juggle.

3.) Freeze the baked goods. Breakfast goodies (pumpkin bread), dinner staples (rolls), and traditional desserts (apple pies, cakes, and pecan pies) freeze well, so if you're inclined to bake, you can do so days or even weeks before the big event. Don't freeze your pumpkin pie, though; the filling gets watery, which makes the crust gummy, which isn't a stress reducer at all.

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

Read more by Lylah M. Alphonse

1 comment so far...

  • I try to always have a stress free and Happy thanksgiving. I was born on Thanksgiving so I know at least one Thanksgiving that my Mom didn't have to cook. Sometimes my Birthday falls on Thanksgiving- but not this year. My Dad was born 2 days after me- so he would have a Thanksgiving birthday some years too. We usually celebrate Thanksgiving with my oldest daughter and her family but this year- he husband wants to go to his sisters house out of state so that means it will just be the 4 of us here - no one extra- no company. We had the last few years went to their house and they order Thanksgiving Dinner from the Bellagio Hotel complete with Butternut squash soup. I think the Turkey, the soup was my favorite. It was nice not to be responsible for the cooking and most of the clean-up and getting the house ready too. So I'll always love Thanksgiving for many reasons- but this one just doesn't feel as special as it should.
    So no good tips- just start getting everything ahead of time- even your house.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by eileen b on 16th November 2008