Because I know y'all are just dying for another list from me, here are my top 10 ideas to make Thanksgiving memorable and enjoyable too.
1. Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I'm not a parade fan in general, but this is a classic. Plus, it's mindless noise in the background as I do other things.
2. Eat breakfast. There's no reason to starve yourself until you're lightheaded when the fam gathers to eat at noon or even later. Trust me: eat a little something, so you don't get 'hangry.'
3. If you're hosting, delegate dishes to family members. Even if it's just soft drinks or a store-bought pie, everyone can contribute in some way. There's no reason you need or should do it all. If you're visiting, be sure you bring something to help out your hostess. I do advise asking her what she'd like you to bring; it's just good manners.
4. Start a new tradition. Maybe you want to play family football after you eat or play cards or get crafty. Try to involve several people in the family in the decision making process beforehand and then put the materials together to make it happen. I love to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles each Thanksgiving; it's a tradition that I started many years ago while I was married; now, it just feels wrong if I don't make time for it. Wouldn't it be fun if you started a new tradition that was special to just your family?
5. Discuss your Christmas or other family holiday plans. While everyone has gathered for Thanksgiving, go ahead and do a little planning for the other holidays a month from now. If you draw names, do it today. If you set price limits or exchange lists, do it today. If you need to decide who will host and when, do it today. It's much easier to get that out of the way today rather than trying to corral everyone once they've scattered.
6. Hold a family photo shoot. Maybe you just pile everybody around the couch, but this would be a great time to take a family photo (or fifteen) that doesn't look especially holidayish in nature. If you're a bit of a planner, you could even ask everyone to wear something in a certain color palette like brown neutrals (orange, brown, cream, mustard, khaki, burgundy) or gray neutrals ( pearl gray, black, pastel pink, white, eggplant, steel gray) or blue neutrals (navy, white, red, kelly green). I'd avoid the whole white shirt look since that often messes with the light metering between the contrast of faces and clothing. Wouldn't it be fun to do some family shots of individual families and of the whole group? You could also do some kid shots with props and give them a chance to be goofy.
7. Avoid shopping. Yes, I might get slammed for this one, but I think it's shameful that merchants force their employees to work on Thanksgiving. I've heard many stories recently of merchants who have informed employees that refusing to work on a holiday will result in automatic dismissal. I just have a problem with that personally. Ask yourself honestly - is there anything you absolutely must buy on Thanksgiving? I bet the answer is no. If you don't want to miss out on any deals, consider shopping online instead of in person. At least that doesn't force someone who'd like to be with his/her family to work on a holiday.
8. Accept help. No, insist on it. There's no reason that you should be the only one to clean the house in preparation of the big day. Likewise, there's no reason that you should be the only one cleaning up after the festivities. Ask for help. Tell people what you need them to do. Even little children can pitch in by collecting used glasses around the house or scraping plates into the trash.
9. Try a new recipe. Sometimes it gets old having the same thing to eat each time. If you still don't love your sweet potato recipe, try a new one. If you want to introduce a new side dish to your family, go for it. If you want to try a themed menu, like a coastal focus, then give it a shot. Certainly, I wouldn't scrap every dish and try all new ones, but it is nice to give a few new things a shot each year.
10. Invite someone new. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who doesn't have family nearby; invite him. Maybe you're estranged from a relative and don't even remember why; invite her. Maybe you have a coworker who can't afford to fly home for both holidays; invite her. Maybe your child has a favorite friend; invite him and his parents. Consider expanding your circle beyond just your family; I don't think you'd regret it.
What are your Thanksgiving plans?
Our plans are pretty simple: Kelsey, Jake, and I are attending a celebration hosted by my aunt and uncle with whom I have not been close for many years. After they reached out to us last Christmas, we've made an effort to meet them halfway and to mend those fences. While it isn't easy to do, I haven't regretted it. I've been asked to bring a salad, and I'm looking forward to trying a new recipe. I'm not sure if they'll be game for a photo shoot, but I do plan to have a mini one with Kel and Jake before we head over to their home. Since we aren't going until evening, we'll definitely be having breakfast (and Kel and Jake will also be eating with his parents at noon). I do plan on watching the parade as I make the salad and look forward to having a pretty relaxing day.
I can't wait to hear about all of your festivities!