Thanksgiving Stress Busters

Updated July 31, 2022
father serving Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is all about showing appreciation for the things in your life that bring you joy. For many, this involves friends, family, and the good times that occur when they come together. It's a holiday filled with good food and even better company. However, just like with any other holiday, it can also bring with it unique challenges.

For some, Thanksgiving is stressful holiday. It may involve cooking elaborate foods, preparing for guests, or reunions with family members. If thoughts about the holiday bring you stress and anxiety, try following these three key Thanksgiving stress-busters.

6 Tips to Reduce Thanksgiving Stress

You're more likely to experience holiday stress if you are the person responsible for hosting Thanksgiving festivities. It means that you're in charge of planning and preparing the Thanksgiving meal. There are ways to cope with whatever comes your way to ensure that you, too, can enjoy this special celebration with your family and loved ones.

1. Plan Supplies in Advance

Woman in her kitchen writing notes

One way to ease the stress of Thanksgiving is to make plans well in advance. This can help you get a better sense of items that you will need for Thanksgiving dinner. Count the number of people you will be inviting over to celebrate to make sure you will have enough food and supplies. Be sure that your needs don't exceed your budget and make adjustments as needed.

Write everything down or keep track of it on your phone. This can be a helpful visual tool. With planning, you may be able to better enjoy the holiday with your loved ones, and may even help you feel more present if your mind isn't racing with thoughts about last-minute activities.

Other planning tips include:

  • Plan your menu and make a list of all the food you are going to serve. You can divide your food list into categories such as main course and side dishes, appetizers, desserts, and beverages.
  • Once you know the foods you are going to serve make a shopping list. If you are not sure about the ingredients of a particular dish, check the recipe and write down any ingredients you will need to pick up.
  • Make a list of other items you will need for Thanksgiving such as plates, paper towels, flowers, and decorations.
  • Be sure to keep track of items you have already purchased or tasks you have already completed by crossing them off.
  • Plan out the specific days and times you are going to shop, cook and clean and add them to your schedule.

2. Confirm Your Guest List

Ask everyone on your guest list to confirm that they will be coming so you have a solid head count for food. It may also help you get a better sense of how much food you will need. You can also assign dishes to each guest or group of guests to take some pressure off of yourself.

Make a seating chart and use name placards to assign seats to your guests. This eliminates the chance of two people that are always bickering or arguing ending up sitting next to one another.

3. Stick to Your Budget

One reason why Thanksgiving can be stressful for some is that it can create a financial burden. All of the food, drinks, and desserts and decorations can add up. It can be fun to plan and cook a lavish meal, but sometimes it can be not so pleasant to think of the cost afterward. This is why it's important to make a budget and stick to it as much as possible. Think about whatever you're comfortable spending and set that as your limit. Keep these tips in mind to stick to your budget:

  • Avoid impulse buying holiday decorations.
  • Make sure that you can justify your purchase if you end up going over budget.
  • Only purchase what is on your shopping list.

4. Prepare Food In Advance

You don't have to leave all of the cooking until Thanksgiving day. This can cause a lot of stress, especially since people often have to get up early to get started and can feel like they are missing out on the holiday fun when they are stuck in the kitchen for most of the time.

Try to choose easy Thanksgiving foods to prepare ahead of time. Some foods, such as mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, and others can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a few days and stay fresh. In the days before Thanksgiving you can also:

  • Choose desserts that can be prepared ahead. For example, there are many different types of desserts such as pies, cakes, cookies, and puddings that can be made days in advance.
  • Chop your ingredients beforehand. Several fruits and vegetables can be chopped a few days ahead of time, which can save you stress on the day of.
  • Make dishes that you are already familiar with. This can save you time in the kitchen since you already have experience preparing the meal. And, if you know the dish is a hit, it can take away whatever worries you may have about some guests being picky eaters.
  • Take out your serving pieces, linens, and other holiday items a few days before Thanksgiving.
  • If you haven't used your dinnerware, glassware, and silverware in a while, clean them a few days in advance.

You can also prepare your table the night before. This will be one less worry on Thanksgiving day since you can have everything set out where it needs to be beforehand. In fact, you might even be able to sleep in a little later knowing that you have taken so many steps to make your Thanksgiving day run as smoothly as possible.

5. Ask for Help When You Need it

Family mixing cookie dough at home

You want your house to look neat, clean, and organized for your guests on Thanksgiving. However, if you're already in charge of buying food and cooking the meal, you may not have enough time to vacuum the carpet and sweep the floors. And you shouldn't have to overexert yourself for the sake of the holiday. It's okay to ask friends and family for help during the week. Maybe they can stop by the store and pick up a few things you need. Or, maybe your children or partner can dust an area of the house while you are at the grocery store.

At the end of the day, you can't do it all. Delegate whatever chores you can as a way of taking care of your own well-being. Also, you can prioritize the cleaning that needs to be done. Focus your energy on areas where your guests are going to be. Everybody has that one closet in their house that is filled to the brim, and there's no shame in that.

6. Allow Yourself to Rest

With all of the planning, cleaning, and food preparation going on during Thanksgiving week, your schedule can fill up fast. However, it's important to make sure you get plenty of rest. Getting ready for Thanksgiving can take a lot out of a person, and oftentimes people won't allow themselves to relax until after dinner has been eaten and the guests have gone home. But without the proper amount of sleep, you will feel tired and maybe even cranky, and you will not be able to enjoy the holiday and the time with you loved ones. Take whatever you need, whether it be a good night's rest, a nap, or a break throughout the week.

Remember to find whatever works for you. You don't have to finish all of your shopping or planning in one day. If you notice yourself getting overwhelmed during a shopping trip, meal prep, or cleaning it's okay to call it a day and give yourself some time to relax. That's what planning ahead is all about. You can tend to your own well-being and know that you will still have enough time to do whatever you need. Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude, and when you use these stress-busting tips this holiday season, you can thank yourself for keeping your mental health in mind.

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Thanksgiving Stress Busters