Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Hosting can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re planning a holiday meal for just your household or a big bunch of friends and family, we’ve got some tips and tricks to reduce the Thanksgiving stress while still hosting an event to remember.

Prepare as much as possible

Plan your dishes ahead of time, and remember that you can prepare and freeze many dishes in the days before Thanksgiving. Desserts are a great element of your dinner that can be made and stored days in advance. Don’t be afraid to pick up certain dishes (or your whole meal) from the store or a local restaurant, rather than cooking from scratch. Supporting the local economy is just as important as a meal made in your own kitchen. 

You can also prepare for hosting duties by getting out your serving ware, glasses and silverware ahead of time and setting the table as much as possible the night before. One less thing to think about the day of will give you more time to prepare for cooking and/or hosting. 

Healthy meal planning

When you’re choosing the dishes in your Thanksgiving dinner, traditional family foods can bring everyone comfort. But if you are concerned about your health and wellness, it may feel difficult to decide which to include. Feeling like you’re on a diet at a big holiday meal can just add to the stress, so keep in mind that it’s okay to treat yourself on occasion. 

A few ideas to help: eat breakfast that morning so that you’re not starving and overstuffing yourself when the big meal comes around. You can also try to “eat the rainbow” to get the most nutrients out of your dinner, such as red cranberries, green beans, orange carrots, white turkey and more!

Accept help from others

As you plan your meal, ask others if they’d like to contribute a side dish, drink or decorations. There’s nothing in the “Thanksgiving hosting guide” that says you have to provide every single item on the menu. Incorporating items from your friends and family is also a great way to help cater to picky eaters or those with special dietary/allergy needs. When your guests start to arrive, allow them to help set the final pieces of the table, put the finishing touches on dishes and get their own drinks. Most guests will be looking for ways to help reduce your Thanksgiving stress as the host, so let them!

Get the kids involved

Accepting help from others also includes the kids! Handprint turkeys and homemade place cards are the perfect projects to keep children busy and away from the hot stove as you’re cooking. Children can also help with food shopping, setting the table, taking coats for guests and cleaning up after the meal. Age appropriate tasks are a great way to let your kids take more ownership over your family’s hosting duties and reduce the Thanksgiving stress overall.

Focus on the gratitude

Our final tip is to remember the real reason for the holiday. Getting together safely with family, especially after the chaos of the past almost two years, is something that so many of us are thankful for. It may seem like a cliche, but going around the dinner table to tell others why you are thankful is the perfect way to focus on gratitude. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” is the ultimate act of self-care and stress reduction this holiday season. 

If you are feeling the Thanksgiving stress this year… or your overall mental health needs a little extra support, contact Healthy365 today. We would love to connect you with local resources and programs that can best serve your or your loved one’s mental well-being.