Thanksgiving is around the corner, and it’s time to make room for the turkey! I mean this literally and figuratively. As I make room in my refrigerator for the turkey and all the fixings, I also have to make the space for all the holiday season-related madness. Despite it being a super-busy time of year, I try not to lose sight of what I really value; time spent with friends and family. Over the years, I have developed my own strategies to help cope with all the craziness!
Eight Ways to embrace the season:
- Make lists: My go-to strategy to feel more organized. As I get closer to a particular event such as preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I break down my list by the hour. This may seem extreme, but it helps me be realistic about the time it will take to get everything done. It also helps me determine which tasks I can assign to others. Checking off each item gives me satisfaction and energy to keep going. Making lists of all the things I want to do and need to do, such as shopping, wrapping, cookie making, decorating, and volunteering, may seem overwhelming at first, but just the act of making the list helps me prioritize.
- Think positive: Not to sound trite, but it’s true: If you approach the holidays with a positive attitude (and a sense of humor), you will enjoy the season that much more. Plus, those around you will be positively affected. At dinner one night, have everyone write down their favorite things about the holidays on a big piece of paper or posterboard. Stories, such as when we forgot an ingredient in the cookies, made us all laugh and get excited for this year’s cookie-making day! Immediately everyone was invested in what we wanted to do this year and reminded of why we love to do it. Post the list as a gentle reminder of what they love about the holidays. Positive begets positive.
- Organize your space: Nothing makes me feel more in control than organizing! It’s a good time to clean out and organize cupboards, fridge and freezer to make room for turkeys and leftovers. Use your DinnerTime Pantry Manager to know what you have on hand, what you want to use up, and what you need to add to your DinnerTime Grocery List. Don’t buy pumpkin spice again if you already have a full jar! This is a good time to donate any food items you aren’t going to need in the near future. I also like to add a couple of extra items to my list each week to build up a box of cans to donate.
- Be prepared for leftovers: Here is where I get excited. My favorite part of Thanksgiving (or any big event) is the leftovers. Know what doesn’t excite me? Searching for my containers. A lot of my containers have gone home with guests, and while I don’t expect them to be returned, I now need to replenish what I have on hand. You know that “one for you, one for me” saying? Well here it applies as “one for me means I can give you one.” Note: You can choose the “Leftover Turkey” profile from your daily profile dropdown or search “Leftover Turkey” in your Dinnertime Recipe Box.
- Keep it simple: Sounds nice right? Easier said than done when we are bombarded with messaging from marketers to buy more, do more, be perfect. I finally got over the fact that I am not Martha Stewart, and concentrate instead on how I want to shape my family’s holiday memories. Crazy, cranky parents are not the memories I want for my kids! Talk with your family about what is most important, and delegate tasks. Kids love to help, and you will love the conversations that emerge. Simple moments are true gifts.
- Eat everyday like every day: Just because you’re attending parties centered around food doesn’t mean you have to eat everything in sight. Overeating and indulging in sweets will make you tired and cranky. I am definitely going to have a piece of pie on Thanksgiving, but that piece doesn’t have to be the size of the whole plate! Ever heard of the challenge “Maintain Don’t Gain?” Plus, just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean we have to lose our everyday structure and habits. What you normally do to take care of yourself and your family doesn’t change during the holidays. Sticking to a schedule of family meals made at home gives everyone that daily anchor when things may feel a little out of balance. Knowing that dinner is planned, and the ingredients are already in the house is a huge relief. It’s a daily task crossed off my list.
- Exercise and sleep: We have a saying in our family: ”Sleep is our friend.” I cannot cope well without enough sleep. When I am tired, I tend to make poor food choices, which leaves me feeling lethargic and less productive. Then I feel bad about myself. You see where I am going? It’s a vicious cycle, so it’s important for me to keep to a schedule as best as possible. The same goes for exercise, plus the bonus is that I tend to sleep better if I have exercised that day. Any movement — yoga, a walk outside, or dancing around the kitchen perks me up.
- Share the love: I amp up what I can do for others. In a season of excess, I like focusing on what others need, as it reminds me of how fortunate I am. Every year, on the day before Thanksgiving, we collect all the things we don’t really need anymore or don’t use. We donate old towels to the animal shelter, coats and clothing to the homeless shelter, and food to the food pantry. This is a key lesson for my children as well. It makes my heart sing to watch how they get into the spirit of giving instead of wanting.
Pressed for time? Get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes with these easy-to-make recipes:
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