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Preparing for Thanksgiving

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By Gabrielle McLish

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to whip up some potatoes, stuff the 20lb turkey, and sit back and relax while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (or if you’re in my family, opt out of the parade and watch The National Dog Show instead!). While we think of Thanksgiving as a day to spend time with family and friends and eat more food than you would ever consider eating on any other day of the year, the holiday can also be a stressful time for many. There are often many moving parts that go into getting dinner (or lunch) on the table. Only last year did I come to fully appreciate the amount of executive functioning skills that goes in to making Thanksgiving happen.

Until last year, my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal was deciding how many appetizers should be placed out before dinner (a very important job if you’re like me and love hors d’oeuvres). However, last year my family decided to switch it up, and we moved our longstanding tradition of having Thanksgiving at my house to a NEW location. This threw a wrench in my once relaxing and enjoyable holiday. All of a sudden, there was food that needed to be packed into the car, tablecloths and silverware that had to be accounted for, and OOPS – don’t forget a pan big enough to fit the turkey (because I did)!

If you’re like me and keeping track of all these things makes your head spin, here are some tips and tricks to help you stay on top of your Thanksgiving meal this year:

  1. Make a list! Simple, I know, but often when we’ve done something over and over for so many years, we assume that we can easily remember what we did the year before. But think about how much happens in between Thanksgivings – it’s a year full of summer BBQ’s, birthdays, and other holiday parties. Making a list at the beginning of November can save you time and energy when approaching the holiday. Google Keep, Google Tasks, or even just the Notes app on your phone all allow you to make checklists that you can refer back to, and they make it easy to check things off as you go. Here’s what my list looks like this year:

  1. Communicate and Delegate! If you’re eating dinner with others, remember that it’s okay to delegate and ask for help. If this is finally the year that you consider giving up the responsibility of making the stuffing, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to do it. When my Thanksgiving changed, there were so many new things on my plate that my hors d’oeuvres didn’t make it. When it finally came time to set things up, I was disappointed that there was only some leftover cheese and crackers to set out for my friends and family. Basically, I forgot to delegate the job. This year, I’ve already asked my brother to follow in my footsteps so that by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I won’t have to worry because I know my appetizers will be in good hands.
  2. Chunk out your time! This tip is for the day of (T-day, if you will). As we all know, there’s so much to get done on the day that sometimes we don’t even know where to start. To ease the otherwise overwhelming tasks at hand, my suggestion is to chunk out your time, ahead of time. Spend a few minutes looking over your list (which by now you should have already made…right?) and label each item with a time. Then you can set aside chunks of time in your day/on your calendar to make it all seem manageable. Breaking things down into smaller chunks helps our brains make huge tasks more digestible.

Prepping for T-Day can be hard, but you can make it easier by planning ahead! How do you and your family plan on spending the holiday?

Erica MechlinskiPreparing for Thanksgiving

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