Entertaining

Thanksgiving's Tomorrow; Today Take a Break

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving can be a massive undertaking. Maybe this is your first year hosting and you've painstakingly researched menus (used our menu genie perhaps?), planned the timing of every dish to a T, and ordered extra dining room chairs. Maybe you're showing up at a dinner someone else is cooking tomorrow with your designated dish in tow—but you're anticipating an awkward dinner conversation or a few too many hours with your family. And maybe whipping up Thanksgiving dinner is an old hat for you—but you still get the jitters wondering if your white meat is going to dry out or if your pie crust will be at its flakiest.

But it's time to let go. What happens tomorrow... happens. Take a moment today. Breathe.

To find more of that "breathe in, breathe out" feeling, read on for 10 things you can do today to keep stress at bay (and we promise, they've nothing to do with the turkey).

Photo by Bobbi Lin
  1. Pre-grind your coffee for tomorrow morning. You’re going to want to press "start" (or get pouring on that pour over) as soon as you hit the kitchen running. Bonus: Assign a Coffee Captain that'll keep the fresh joe coming all day long.
  2. Brush up on a non-controversial, crowd-pleasing, participatory game. (We're here to announce that charades is making a comeback!)
  3. Read Keat's "Ode to Autumn" out loud. ("Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun...") Sigh happily.
  4. Loop in the family and friends who couldn’t make it to the festivities. Dial up Aunt Sara and tell her 3 funny things that happened during your T-day prep. Text some turkey GIFs to your teenage cousin.
  5. (Hey, real quick: Did you defrost the pie dough? Are you sure? Go open the freezer, we’ll wait. Ok, good. Hold on, did you take out BOTH pie doughs?)
  6. Now's the time to get outside and breathe some fresh air. Walk to the nearest park. No park? Take a walk around the block. Take 8 laps around the block. Heck, take 8 laps around your front lawn. And leave your phone behind.
  7. Listen to a podcast that'll make you laugh. Or one that's nostaglic and romantic. Or one that'll help you take that nap you so desparately need.
  8. I know you're not supposed to be thinking about tomorrow, but if you're the type who just can't sit still, here's a prep activity that's simultaneously a stress reliever: Pre-batch a cocktail for the festivities (how about this one?) and then be taste tester. Because someone has to make sure they're drinkable, right?
  9. Put on a song that makes you feel good. My go-tos for (1) a dance-able classic, (2) a soul-stirring choral piece, and (3) a sweet, folky love song. But play whatever makes you smile.
  10. You know that moment where everyone has to go around the table and say what they're thankful for? This year, really give it some thought—a day early. Revel in those thoughts, find comfort in holding them close, and then share them with everyone tomorrow.

Enjoy your peace of mind, and don't forget to have fun tomorrow!

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How do you relieve stress before hosting a big feast? Share your methods with us in the comments below!

19 Comments

txgreyhound November 24, 2016
Find something to be grateful for......you know you can.
 
Cheri November 23, 2016
What wonderful comments these are! Thank you for the Canadian comments too...being thankful certainly knows no borders! Have a safe and happy day, all!
 
Tim November 23, 2016
I use my grill for the turkey, so my oven is freed up. Not only is this better for the bird (at least my family thinks so!) and easier on kitchen logistics, but after a couple hours the whole back yard smells like Thanksgiving! And I take a bourbon with me when I check on the bird, and then take a couple moments to enjoy the weather and reflect on the blessings of this day. It always balances out the chaos!!
 
Author Comment
Olivia B. November 23, 2016
Bourbon in the chilly Fall air—I like your style, Tim.
 
Nancy November 23, 2016
Prep as much as the food ahead of time!
 
[email protected] November 23, 2016
HA! HAVE made things....(durned spell correct gnomes!)
 
[email protected] November 23, 2016
Helpful and amusing hints every day has made things so smoooooth! Thanks!
 
Carla November 23, 2016
Olivia, yes...just cut up the turkey like a chicken. I follow the instructions from the Chefsteps web site to sous vide!! The spine and wing tips go into the stock pot for use with the dressing and gravy. Today I'll do both breast parts and legs..but usually I only do the breast and make a yummy Ragu for pasta out of the leg parts.
 
Susan November 23, 2016
I am a Canadian who has been celebrating American Thanksgiving for 34 years. It started with a move to Texas from Montreal Quebec . I celebrate here in October and everyone in our family takes the American thanksgiving day afternoon off ! I want to thank all Americans and tell you that I am especially grateful for you but never so much as at thanksgiving ! It's been a rough ride these last few months for you my dearest cousins. We here in Canada root for you and when times are bad we weep for you. But we are always here for you! We admire your pluck, glamour, creativity ingenuity and that " together" you are America first!!! Happy thanksgiving to you all, here in our nations capital of Ottawa we too celebrate with your ambassador and expats!
 
Laura M. November 23, 2016
This comment just made me smile and be thankful for strangers such as yourself that are angels in disguise 😇 Happy Day of Thanks from America back to you my Canadian neighbor 🦃
 
Author Comment
Olivia B. November 23, 2016
Yes, thank you for your lovely sentiments!
 
CFrance November 23, 2016
A lovely comment, and so needed right now. Thank you so much.<br />
 
Carla November 23, 2016
Turkey, the star of the Thanksgiving show, always stressed me out until I started cooking it sous vide. Not only is it perfect every single time...it frees up the oven for everything else....which reduces stress even more!!!
 
Author Comment
Olivia B. November 23, 2016
Ooooh—very cool. Do you cut it down into parts and then sous vide?
 
Amanda S. November 23, 2016
Made me the smallest bit weepy, in the very best way, because nothing is better than being dialed in when you can't be there. (Also First Aid Kit, nothin' better.)
 
Jennifer November 23, 2016
I love that you suggest reading Keats's To Autumn! I can recite parts of it by memory. But it also makes me laugh--here in Syracuse we have 2+ feet of snow on the ground.
 
Author Comment
Olivia B. November 23, 2016
Nothing more soothing to me than beautiful words put together in a beautiful way. And oh boy—I'm not quite ready for snow yet... Stay warm and Happy Thanksgiving!
 
BerryBaby November 23, 2016
Good ideas! After40+years of making Thanksgiving dinner, I don't stress. Ladt year a relative was observing daughter and I creating the meal. We don't speak, we each keep on eye in every dish and one of us will see something that needs to be stirred or tended to and we just do it. The relative said, "You two are like watching a perfect symphony. " We just flow and are in perfect sync. I love it! Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Author Comment
Olivia B. November 23, 2016
Thank you, BerryBaby. Enjoy your symphony! (My Thanksgiving may be more like a performance by a High School Marching Band.)