I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
—Henry David Thoreau
Large gatherings always bring an element of stress for the host. Here are tips for making your Thanksgiving dinner a time to enjoy your friends, family, and feast.
- Ask Your Guests To Contribute To The Dinner. Thanksgiving is a day for family and friends to gather together, and nowadays it’s common for guests to contribute to the meal. Gone are the days of one person preparing all the food. I can remember my parents getting up in the middle of the night to put the turkey in the oven, and then my mother prepared the all of the side dishes herself.
- Hand Out “Turkey Tickets.” At our home we give out “turkey tickets” that assign each guest a role for the day—anything from stoking the fire to clearing the table or filling the nut bowls.
- Make It A Mobile-Free Day. I recently read a quote that said we live in a world of “retweets” where people would rather share their information online than to have a conversation in person. On Thanksgiving, ask your guests to turn off their phones and be present for one another, at least at the dinner table. Only a doctor on call or emergency personnel should have their phones in hand.
- Discourage Talk About Politics. This is the one-day of the year we gather to give thanks for all of our blessings, not to argue about things we have little control over. There’s a reason for not discussing politics, money, or religion in social gatherings. Even in our 24/7 news cycle, this is a time to take a break from current events. The good news is that as a host, you can direct the conversation. When guests go “off topic,” acknowledge the slip, and then move the conversation on to another subject.
- Stick To Safe Topics Of Conversation. Food, football, the latest film, the fall leaves, the weather—all safe topics that allow your guests to stay neutral. If all else fails, you can try Eleanor Roosevelt’s approach and run down the alphabet until you find a topic of interest. (But stay away from the letter p unless the topic is pumpkin pie).
- Think Like A Diplomat. Any way you slice the turkey, there will always be conservatives and liberals. Remember to “agree to disagree” or no one will enjoy the gathering.
- Divide and Conquer. Share in the workload. Enjoy the three C’s of Thanksgiving: Cooking, Contributing, and Celebrating the “Carb Coma” that you are about to receive.