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9 tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving

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Posted on: November 13, 2019

Food magazines may tell a different story, but striving for
perfection on Thanksgiving is only bound to stress you out. Before your
holiday planning begins in earnest, take a moment to discard too-high
expectations, and focus instead on what a happy Thanksgiving Day would
really look and feel like to you.

To me, it involves a messy kitchen, tried-and-true dishes, loud and
boisterous good times with family, shared thanks, an afternoon walk in
the fallen leaves, and someone pitching in to help with the dishes. This Thanksgiving, learn to embrace imperfection for a less stressful and more meaningful holiday.

Whatever your holiday looks like, here are are 10 tips for hosting a calm, heartfelt holiday:

1. Set a simple table (and set it early)

If you love pulling out the heirloom china and linens for Thanksgiving, honor your tradition but give yourself enough time to get everything just right without feeling rushed. Doing it the evening before is ideal. And what if you’re not that interested in setting an elaborate table? Give yourself permission to keep it basic. Everyday white dishes, clear glasses (or even jam jars) and cloth napkins let the abundance of the Thanksgiving meal take center stage.

2. Prepare as much as possible ahead of time

Lots of traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be prepared the day before, if not earlier. Take advantage of this fact and make a dish or two ahead. Ready-to-serve food in the fridge is like money in the bank. Even if you have only half an hour the day before to devote to prep, you could wash and chop the veggies, saving time (and precious counter space) on Thanksgiving.

3. Enjoy a moment to yourself before guests arrive

Remember, when you are relaxed and happy, your guests will be, too. So light a fire (or some candles), put on music, get dressed and pour yourself a little glass of wine or cup of tea. Savor the stillness before the storm of cooking, family and friends descends upon your house.

4. Set up a drinks station outside the kitchen

The living room or a spacious foyer would make the ideal spot for a beverage station—it’s out of the way of the cooking and easy for guests to find as they come in. Keep beer, white wine and bubbly chilled in a cooler, drinks for kids in a bucket of ice, and glassware and other beverages on a tray.

5. Stick with easy appetizers

Aside from the fact that you want your guests to save room for the main event, offering simple appetizers, like roasted nuts or a cheese plate, will make your life much easier. On the day of, be sure to put the snacks someplace away from the cooking to cut down on kitchen traffic.

6. Take mindful breaks throughout the day

Use a repetitive task—like washing dishes, answering the door or opening the fridge—as your cue to breathe in deeply. Exhale, loosen your shoulders, relax and move on. By taking many of these tiny pauses during a busy day like Thanksgiving, you may feel calmer and more aware of the simple pleasures that are there to enjoy, even amid the chaos: the scent of the turkey roasting in the oven, the autumn leaves swirling outside the window, the sounds of lively conversation and laughter.

7. Pick your favorite cooking tasks and accept help for the rest

Whether you love to bake, make a killer gravy or always do the green beans, claim your preferred dishes and farm out the others. Invite family and friends to contribute something and don’t worry about picking up a few store-bought items to fill in gaps.

8. Get folks out of the house while the turkey cooks

As the kitchen fills with wonderful aromas and the kids (big or little) get antsy, encourage a group to go outdoors for a bit of fresh air. Sure, some will want to stay in and watch sports on TV, but for the rest, a brisk walk or a game of touch football can be just what’s needed before a big meal. This can also be a good time to give children the task of creating decorations for the table: Collected leaves make beautiful place cards when written with a metallic pen.

9. Pause before digging in

Say a special grace, read a poem or ask everyone at the table to share something they’re thankful for this year—whatever you choose, pausing before the meal is part of what makes Thanksgiving special.

Originally posted on Houzz by Laura Gaskill.

Do you feel it?

That little spark ✨ in the air that only comes around this time of year is starting to buzz and pop around us. There’s nothing quite like the joy and excitement that comes with counting down to the holidays—especially with your kids who think last Christmas was forever ago.

And what better way to count down to Christmas than with an Advent calendar? We’ve rounded up our favorites that you can use year after year, mama.

House advent calendar

It’s perfectly neutral to go with any type of holiday decor, but is made to bring a spark of magic and fun as your kids rush each morning to find out what’s inside the tiny drawers.

Advent calendar wreath

This has to be the most unique advent calendar we’ve ever seen. We love everything about it: The simple metal hoop, the greenery and the 24 kraft boxes that can be filled with goodies for both adults and kids. It’s so pretty, we might even leave it up past Christmas!

Countdown to Christmas advent calendar

We love that you can fill this one with your own treats that can change as your kids grow. And it doesn’t have to be sweets. It can be filled with stickers, little toys, handmade goodies and more.

Modern farmhouse Christmas countdown

No treats required for this simple, beautiful sign.

Metal advent calendar

This sleek metal sign comes with 25 small muslin bags and 30 cards you can tuck into each one. The cards have an activity or kind gesture you and your kids can do to celebrate the season.

Ernie and Irene llama advent calendar

Add a touch of whimsy and coziness with this sweet calendar featuring a knit llama.

DIY advent calendar kit

For the crafty mamas in the group, this sweet kit has everything you and your family need to create your advent calendar together. Once you’ve assembled all the houses, you can fill it with whatever treats your family will love.

Customizable advent calendar

This sweet and modern fabric calendar can be customized with your family name or cherished holiday phrase. It also comes with a set of 24 activity cards you can pop into each pocket.

Clever Creations traditional wooden Christmas advent calendar

Clever Creations Traditional Wooden Christmas Advent Calendar

This beautiful calendar is a showpiece. It lights up to create a cozy and festive scene.

Light-up stacking house glitter advent calendar

Enjoy a tower of pre-lit cottages that will light up your home each day leading up to Christmas.

My Kindness advent calendar

My Kindness Advent Calendar

The holidays are all about giving—and that doesn’t stop with just material items. We can give in the form of kindness every single day, and this calendar helps us do just that.

Blue and gray Christmas socks advent calendar garland

We love the twist on a traditional calendar with this sweet garland of 24 stockings.

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As December creeps closer you might be thinking more and more about your family’s Christmas traditions. One brilliant idea, which builds excitement, explains what Christmas is all about (for those who celebrate it) and promotes early literacy, is sharing special stories about this festive time of year. Here are ten fantastic books you could start […]

The post 10 essential Christmas picture books to read at bedtime appeared first on Babyology.