How to have a “hygge” Thanksgiving
It is that wonderful time of the year! The Holidays are upon us. My inner child is jumping up and down with glee. The rest of me panics and is overwhelmed with a sense of dismay: Not again! I’m not ready! How am I going to handle all this?!
I LOVE the Holidays. It’s the most hygge time of year. And yes, I know that is so last year, but seriously. It makes me happy. And I think that we all can give our inner Charlie Brown a good talking to and calm the f*** down and enjoy ourselves. Here are my tips specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday to minimalize (it’s a word) the chaos and maximize the hygge.
One Holiday at a Time Please
When my husband and I first started doing holidays together we actually went to 3 different Thanksgivings and 6 Christmases, plus there always seemed to be a wedding on New Years eve. It was insanity. I’m not even exaggerating. We felt like we were spending the entire holiday season in the car and sleeping in other people’s houses. Why did we even bother decorating our own?!
Now, every year we discuss where we will be spending each of the holidays ahead of time (usually in September to beat the rush). We decided one Thanksgiving is plenty, and 3 small Christmases was fine. Yes, this gets touchy sometimes when more people want to see us on a particular holiday, but what we’ve asked is that we combine celebrations. Some years we’ve invited both sides of the family to our house for Thanksgiving, for example.
Plan to Relax
Planning ahead is the most important thing you can do to enjoy the holidays. For Thanksgiving, I plan out where we’re going to celebrate, and what we’re going to do on Black Friday too. Black Friday shopping is not something I enjoy, so I plan ahead to avoid it. I make a list of all the Christmas presents that I want to get everyone ahead of time, and then I shop online over the Thanksgiving weekend and on Cyber Monday. More on gifts in another post!
Minimize the Menu
Speaking of planning… If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, for goodness sake MINIMIZE YOUR MENU. My family has probably a dozen or more amazing recipes that come out during the holidays, but Thanksgiving is the grand exhibition. I’ve lost count of the number of side dishes that go with the turkey. Don’t get me wrong, (grandma, I know you’re reading this! ♥) I LOVE each and every one of them. They are insanely delicious. But if you’re like me, and you don’t love the process of making all of them, then I would suggest you slice that menu in half – or more. If the recipes are really special, rotate them from year to year so you still get to have them!
For me, my Thanksgiving menu looks like this:
- 2 appetizers plus spiced nuts
- Sangria or punch, and wine
- A green vegetable
- A mashed starch – either sweet potatoes or regular potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- Rolls (if we have to… I’m not really sure what the point of them is. I feel like they keep me from eating more turkey)
- Pie and Coffee for dessert (like 3 hrs later)
Also, when planning your menu, take some time to consider what is actually a priority when it comes to making things homemade. Do you really want to be cutting up green beans when frozen ones are just as good??? Does anyone really care if the rolls came from a bag??? And please… I cannot make a good gravy to save my life, so a jar is perfectly fine by me!
Simplify the Scenery
The first Thanksgiving I hosted was very successful, but I instantly understood why many hostesses LOATHE the holidays. I took on way too much. I spent so much time and money on decorations, not to mention I did not have a simplified menu listed above.
Hygge is cheap people. Get some fall flowers or little pumpkins at the grocery store. Buy some candles at the dollar store, and use a vintage tablecloth. That’s it. I always giggle to myself when friends come over for dinner and I use a tablecloth and candles and they are like “OMG. So fancy! This is so nice!”
It’s so simple, and yet the scene is so cozy and elegant at the same time.
Bonus tip: If you want to simplify dishes but don’t want to sacrifice class, I recommend buying some high quality heavy duty paper plates. Then use real silverware and glasses. This cuts the dishes down quite a bit, but still using regular silverware and glasses keeps the elegant feel.
Folks, THIS IS Family Time
We’ve been told for a long time that you shouldn’t have “too many cooks in the kitchen”. But the result of that mindset leaves one person lonely and overworked during the holidays: Mom. And that leads to the next unpleasant colloquialism: If mamma ain’t happy… ain’t nobody happy.
One thing that I’ve learned about hygge is that it’s about togetherness. Cooking together doesn’t have to be a cat fight. Give everyone a job, crank up the tunes, wear silly aprons and enjoy the process of creating a feast. There were no crock-pots and insulated bakeware bags at the first Thanksgiving. Everyone brought ingredients and spent the day cooking together before sitting down to the well earned feast. That’s community, and that’s family.
The Attitude is Gratitude
The Holidays are notorious for bringing up family fights. Now, I can’t solve that. Good luck. But I do think that planning activities and talking points can help ease the tension. Here’s some ideas:
- Turn off the TV and put phones away (except for taking pictures!)
- Play games
- Listen to calming music (I like Jazz for Thanksgiving)
- Even better – play music together if you have instruments
- Everyone share what you’re thankful for this year
- Everyone share a fun old family story (even if it’s been told before!)
- Talk a walk or do an outdoor activity (like a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt!)
- Do a craft together – gingerbread house building is one of our family traditions right after Thanksgiving!
Whatever you do this Thanksgiving – take some time to be mindful of the past and the present with a heart full of gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!