Thanksgiving is hands down one of my favorite holidays of the year, quite honestly because of the food, but also because... never mind, it's because of the food.
For those hosting the festivities, it can be incredibly stressful -- cleaning and decorating the house, buying and prepping all the food days in advance, busting out the fancy china.
And there are the social dynamics to consider: Who should sit by whom? Little Janie is in 6th grade now and has the start of teen angst, is she going to be offended by having to sit at the kids' table? Will all of my relatives get along, or will Grandpa and Uncle Joe have a repeat of the knock-down-drag-out of '92?
For those brave enough to invite your entire family to be in the same house together for an entire day, I'd like to offer some advice.
Here are 9 Fail-Safe Ways to Host a Stress Free Thanksgiving:
1. Southern Comfort. Add a few teaspoons of this to your pumpkin pie filling before baking. This is a great flavor enhancer. If I'm wrong about the flavor, this is still a great idea.
2. Make sure you only have two rolls of toilet paper left in your entire house. People may leave earlier, but that way they'll get home and get to bed at a reasonable hour (no one gets enough sleep anymore -- it's good of you to care so much about their health).
3. Cancel your cable or satellite service the day before. No one will be able to watch football, but the important thing is family and spending quality time together. Trust me on this -- they'll all be glad you did.
4. Have conversation starters ready in case table talk lulls. You may want to keep it light because there are more likely to be mixed opinions with a larger group. Some ideas you can steal from me:
- So, Kanye in 2020, huh? I can't see what could possibly go wrong.
5. Ask any teenagers attending to turn in their smart phones at the door. Explain that this is a new tradition you're starting. Teenagers love this.
6. Don't ignore the fact that your single relatives are still single... like it's the elephant in the room. Ask them all about why they're still single and probe for details about their dating life.
7. Don't ignore the fact that some of your relatives still don't have children. Ask them all about why they don't, and if they won't give you much of an answer, ask them if they're having marital problems. People need to know you care.
8. I find that at the holidays, people like fancy coffee creamers they wouldn't normally use the rest of the year. Some that you may want to try are: Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Johnny Walker Red (these creamers may not easily be found in the dairy aisle at your local grocery store).
9. Boxed Wine. It's not just for breakfast anymore.