Let the stress melt away
Thanksgiving, or the holidays in general, can get pretty crazy and stressful. I love it when everyone pitches in to help and each person gets to give whatever talent and ability they want to the process. My sister and mom are ultimately the best planners in our family. They plan backwards from the time they need to be ready for an event, backtracking until they know what time they need to get started on the turkey, pies, and whatever else. Me? I just wing the whole thing. I make some plans but they just pull it off so much better. They are amazing.
I LOVE to make it look beautiful and fun…and take the pictures. We’ve all got our thing we do and so do the kids and husbands. Every person is involved in some piece of pulling together our Thanksgiving day.
We did this backyard Thanksgiving Day last year. The reason we can pull it off and not feel overwhelmed is because we all worked together to make it happen. As I always say…the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship. I love the chance I get spend time peeling potatoes next to Emma or lighting apple candles with Miriam and helping blow on the beginning flames of our firepit to get a roaring blaze for all of us to gather around.
And every thing feels simpler when lots of hands are helping fun stuff happen.
Here are some ideas your family may enjoy doing together:
1. Light up the night.
Hang lights up in the trees of your backyard. (When we lived in Utah we didn’t have ANY trees around our house so we rigged up poles stuck in umbrella stands with something heavy on the bottom of the stand). It’s fun to wrap them around trees and then flip the switch and see what an awesome job you did together. (Note: don’t string too many together or you’ll blow the fuses in your light strands. We just did about 5 strands per outlet.)
2. Everyone on deck.
Enlist help in the kitchen. Making pies together is one of the things my girls loved to do with my sister, Danita, last year. There are always little jobs that different sizes of hands can do. Using the rolling pin is always a favorite and getting the chance to dump all the sweet strawberry or pumpkin goodness into the pie crust is exciting.
3. How Grandpas can make waiting less boring.
Learn how to play solitaire from your Grandpa. In the bit of downtime while you wait for your pie to cook or for dinner to be on the table, learn a new game, do a puzzle, chat about school, ask about when he grew up.
4. Get ready to light it up.
The leaves had completely fallen off the trees in the last week or so which meant we needed to do a treasure hunt through the yard to uncover the firepit. Make it a fun project by piling all of the leaves in another part of the yard for everyone to jump into. (We didn’t do that but there’s always this year!)
5. Make your snacks table speak for itself.
Create simple little banner flags for those items that keep needing an explanation. Emma was super excited to make these with some basic white paper and some toothpicks. We just cut and pasted. Miriam helped place them and it made our table even more fun and festive.
6. Keeping the hangry people at bay.
I don’t like worrying about people getting hangry (angry + hungry) when I don’t have the dinner ready right on time. It gets me stressing out and then I don’t get to enjoy the process and fun of getting things ready and enjoying everyone in the process.
In past years we have what we call a relish tray…some snacks for while we all await the big Thanksgiving dinner. (From which I always snack so much that I barely have room for any dinner). This year we made it a table on our deck and ate dinner a little later.
Emmett and Mike also plan a Turkey Bowl flag football game with friends from our town and church. Most of the kids go with them and some stay back to read a book or help with dinner. When they get back they are usually pretty hungry. It’s a nice way to keep people from getting hangry while they wait for all the food to be ready.
7. Use what you have to set your table.
I am in love with these apple candles and I’ll probably do them again this year. They look beautiful and they are so simple. Just use a watermelon baller and scoop out the top of the apple, down to about the middle. Place a 1/2 size votive candle inside. Done. And it looks even more beautiful and glowy when the sun goes down. The kids enjoyed this job!
8. Keep it simple.
I love setting a simple table. It helps everyone be able to be part of getting the table ready for dinner and it’s not so over the top that people are worried more about working around the table decorations than trying to enjoy one another.
We made our apple candles, bought lots of little pumpkins at the pumpkin farm in October, and purchased tea towels from dollar tree and used them as napkins for each person. (All my plates are from garage sales and thrift shops. The goblets I bought at Sam’s Club over 10 years ago…and they are plastic! They do still break but every one of them has been super glued a couple of times.)
Sit down and enjoy dinner. Working together is fun and so is sitting down and enjoying what you created!
What I love about Thanksgiving Day is that we get to be together working, talking, playing, all day long. Sitting down to dinner together is the bonus!
During dinner we talk about what has happened over the year. I love it when we all get to sit at the same table and hear all of the fun stuff the kids are talking about.
We use our goblets and break out the sparkling cider. And of course, everyone has to have their turn to do a crazy, silly, make-n0-sense toast and then clink glasses.
We do some fun traditions in the evening that I’ll share with you next week!
How do you get everyone involved in the Thanksgiving holiday?
Davina loves photographing the stories that make up Thanksgiving Day and remembering the days when her daughter couldn’t fit enough hugs into one day. Want to know about your own Day in the Life session? Just ask her here.
The holidays are coming up. Make sure to get your free copy of The Art of Familyness Photography.