With fall upon us, my thoughts are gravitating towards Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Tips. This year is going to be a little different for us since New Baby's due date is on Canadian Thanksgiving! While I'm super excited that it is approaching quickly, it also means we may miss out on all the
awesome grub family gatherings. Either way, it's going to be hectic 'round here.
The holidays are a busy time for many of us, especially with the discovery of “Friendsgiving”. Our family, in particular, usually has roughly 4 gatherings to attend. Neither of our parents are divorced. If you think that's a lot you should hear our Christmas plans. Phew!
Any way you can get ahead or make life easier you should, so listen up! I'm here to help. I'll be offering up some Thanksgiving tips for you to follow if you don't know where to start, are hosting for the first time, or are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of running here, there & everywhere. Maybe it's your first holiday with a new baby. Maybe you have to travel this year. I'll provide some ideas that can hopefully let you enjoy your holiday and not be stressed out.
Thanksgiving Tips for the Host
Do you always host? Is this your first time? Do you have a rotation you follow? Do you have to host more than one gathering this year? This list is for you!
Plan Ahead; as soon as you find out you're going to be a host, get in the game. Start thinking about the meal first. If you're going to be providing everything, you'll definitely want to try save some money.
- If you have a bit of time, shop around for a frozen turkey or wait until one comes on sale. Maybe you know a local farmer who is willing to give you a fresh one to butcher (score!).
- Decide on your sides and start collecting items that can be stored. Things like canned goods, stale bread, condiments, gravy and stuffing mixes can all be gathered and stored until it's time to cook up a storm. Furthermore, you can save money since you'll be watching the sales.
- If you're going the pot-luck route try to coordinate with your guests to organize who is bringing what. This will save you from having 3 pots of mashed potatoes and no veggies. Bonus for pot-lucks, usually you're only left with cooking one or two things!
- Look into things you can cook ahead. If you don't like the idea of freezing your dishes, maybe there's some you can prepare a day or two in advance so you don't have so much to do on the big day. Also, your oven will likely be stuffed with a turkey or ham, leaving little room for other dishes.
Think About Decor; if you have a theme you want to go with, start collecting items that match the feel.
- Look around your house first. A lot of fall ideas are easy to create with things you have laying around.
- Head outdoors. Beautiful arrangements can be made from leaves, cattails, wheat sheaves and pine cones. Don't have a yard? No problem. Head to a friend's or local park. If you know a local farmer ask to cut a bunch of wheat for your table display.
- Shop at thrift stores to help you be the hostess with the mostest! Check out thrift stores and second hand stores to find what you're looking for. You'll probably be able to grab some adorable dishes and centerpieces. Remember, don't be afraid to DIY.
Tackling the Cleaning and Mess; whenever I host an event, I feel like I have to accomplish SO much before the big day. My house is usually presentable enough that this is seriously ridiculous and my husband dreads it. Save yourself some stress and anxiety by following these Thanksgiving tips:
- Keep on top of clutter. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, keep your house tidy. Clean as you go. Maybe you want to start a Cleaning Routine. (Join my newsletter for a free printable!)
- If you do have some projects that need completing, start them early so you're not up til 3 am trying to finish them!
- Prioritize. Not everything needs to be buffed to a shine. Pick your top projects and limit them to a reasonable amount for the time frame you have. Ditto for cleaning. This is not the time to start washing walls and cleaning the attic.
- On the day of the gathering try to keep on top of the mess. Dirty dishes go straight into the dishwasher or sink to be washed. After the meal, put food away as promptly as you can so you have more time to relax without that dark cloud of mess hanging over you.
Thanksgiving Tips for the Busy Family
So you don't have to host, but you are invited to 6 different functions. With kids in tow, this gets to be daunting. First, you start imagining all the gear you have to haul, then add in your host gift, pot-luck items and yourself. You're so exhausted just thinking about it! How are you going to have time to shop, prepare, create, pick out coordinating outfits, get everyone washed and in the van, etc, etc, etc.
It doesn't have to be that stressful. Here's some thanksgiving tips for you and yours.
- Prioritize. You don't have to go to every single event. The first ones to cut are the ones happening at the same time. Decide which is easier for you. If there's someone you were really looking forward to seeing try to arrange another time to get together in a more casual setting.
- Make easy dishes. If you know you have to bring a dish to a gathering plan ahead and make something that's easy and quick. Crock-Pot dishes or casseroles are great for this. Something you can set and forget. When it's time to go just wrap it up and throw it in a bag. Done. Another Thanksgiving tip – see if you can make something in advance and freeze it. Meatballs, for example.
Keep your accessories to a minimum. I know, I know, each kid wants to bring his/her own bag. Remember, all the items need to be accounted for before you leave, too. If you have one or two babes, this might be doable. Unless they pack like Paris Hilton.
- Limit the bags to one or two for the whole family. And YOU decide what goes in them! Toys are only necessary if the venue won't have any.
- See if you can get away without a playpen. We have this little bassinet and totally LOVE it for the little babies. Sweet Girl did outgrow it at about 5-6 months, though. At that age your baby might still be young enough to be held to sleep (you'll have all kinds of offers), or placed on a bed or mattress on the floor with pillows around him/her.
- Look into a travel high chair. One that folds up, straps to or sits on a chair will be your best friend. If your babe is old enough and well behaved you or your husband could hold him/her, too.
- Let some things go. You'll almost certainly be out past bedtime. Someone is bound to miss a nap. The kids probably won't get bathed. Just go with it. As long as everyone is fed and loved you can let the little things slide. You'll be able to enjoy yourself that much more.
Thanksgiving Tips for the New Mom
If this is your first holiday with a baby in tow, you're probably feeling all sorts of emotions. Pride, love, excitement. But also fear, stress, anxiety. Is everyone going to be gentle and wash their hands before they touch my perfect little angel? Will I have somewhere to breastfeed without an audience? Where am I going to put poopy diapers? How am I going to eat without the swing?!
There's a lot that comes with being a new mom, so take these Thanksgiving tips to help ease your stress.
- Think of it as a regular outing. Surely you've been out of the house since your babe has been born. Or maybe you haven't. First of all, taking baby out is relatively easy if you plan it. Know how many diapers you'll need. Take ONE extra outfit and a pair of jammies. Likely what you have in the diaper bag will get you through. Realistically, you'll be at someone's house. They will have a lot of the amenities you have at your own house, or something similar to make do.
- Take the help. Before you even walk in the door you'll be getting offers to take your bags and the baby. Take it. Enjoy some time for yourself. Maybe even indulge in a glass of wine. Just make sure you're comfortable with what's going on and speak up when you need to have that sweet child back to nurse or change.
- Wear something comfortable. You probably aren't back to your pre-baby size yet. And that's okay! You rock at being a mom, so what else matters?! Don't try to squeeze into that super cute skirt that doesn't quite fit. You'll be uncomfortable all night and likely won't enjoy yourself as much. If you don't have something comfy and cute, go shopping. Treat yourself to a nice comfy outfit – just keep breastfeeding in mind unless you plan to pump and take a bottle.
Thanksgiving Tips for Travel
Ok, so we never have to travel for holidays. We're pretty lucky that way. However, a lot of you do. I've racked my brain to come up with some Thanksgiving tips for traveling to help you out.
If it's just you, or you and a partner
- Plan your trip and make sure you have enough time to get to your destination at a safe speed. The highways and cities are going to be busy, so be sure to plan for delays.
- Take snacks and drinks and, if you don't want to stop to eat for every meal, pack a lunch.
- If you'll be traveling more than one day consider booking accommodations ahead of time. And think outside the box! You don't have to shell out for the fancy hotel that you'll be in for a few hours. Do you have friends or relatives along the way you can stay with? Maybe you want to try out an Airbnb.
- Don't stay longer than you're comfortable with because you'll just end up more anxious than before! If your family gets you all worked up, only stay as long as necessary. You don't have to make this an extended vacation.
If you're wrangling a family
Follow the above Thanksgiving tips, but also consider the family you are dragging along.
- Skip the U-Haul. If you're only going for a day or two, you should be able to manage with your personal vehicle. Try to arrange things like highchairs, playpens, etc, from your relatives' friends and neighbours.
- Pack light. You can most likely do laundry if you need to. Only take what you will actually use for your stay.
- Search Pinterest for some great ideas to keep the kids occupied while traveling.
- Take as many breaks as you need. Kids need to stop more to avoid meltdowns. Stop to stretch legs and use the potty as much as they need to. Just make sure to plan for it so you don't feel rushed. Know your kids and how long they'll be comfortable for.
PHEW! That ended up being WAY longer than I anticipated. I couldn't leave out any great Thanksgiving tips, though! I hope you found some comfort and help in this post. Even just writing this out helped me to remember a few things I need to work on for easier event prep.