How To Actually Enjoy Thanksgiving Day Without All The Stress & Drama

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Kick Thanksgiving Day stress to the curb with these AWESOME tips!

Be honest – does the fact that it’s almost Thanksgiving Day cause your heart to skip a beat of joy or panic?!  If the answer is the latter, stick around because I’ve learned a few secrets to help us actually enjoy it and kick that stress to the curb! Here are a few tips to get rid of the drama and enjoy Thanksgiving week with your people.

Enjoy Thanksgiving & cut the stress

I’ve written before about my first experiences with Thanksgiving as a new bride. I was so thrilled to finally own a home that I wanted to host both sides of our family.  At the time, that was a lot of folks and it was so stressful! I pulled it off, but after that year, I swore that there had to be a better way.  Each year got better and better as I realized that it just takes a different mindset and a tiny bit of planning.

The 1st order of business is answering this question:

Will your family be the hosts or guests for the Thanksgiving meal this year? 

Notice that I included your immediate family in that question.  You know, those people that live under your roof?!  Whether it’s just you and the hubs or a houseful o’ folks, everyone can pitch in to make the burden just a little lighter for the host.

The 2nd order of business is to answer this question:

How will I set the tone for the Thanksgiving holiday this year?

Our family often takes its cues on how to react to stress and drama from us.  My prayer is that we can have the mindset of peace, love, and thankfulness as we gather with others during this special season.  Join me?! We have no idea the impact that our humble spirit might have on someone at the big gathering that does not know Christ.

Simple steps to Thanksgiving

If your family is not hosting Thanksgiving, you must find out right away how many people will be at the celebration.  Ask the hosting family what dishes they want you to bring.  Skip below to the think about it” section.

If your family is hosting Thanksgiving, figure out how many people are coming.  Decide which meats, sides, and desserts you’d like to have at the Thanksgiving meal.  Do not complicate this! Make a list of who can bring what and then ask them to do so.  Do not try to cook everything yourself.  Unless you have a chef’s professional kitchen and staff, it’s almost possible to have meats, sides, and desserts all warm and ready to serve a crowd all by yourself.

some of our faves

In order to enjoy Thanksgiving, do the following tips below before the Monday before Thanksgiving!!!

Think about it

Gather opinions from your people and then choose enough meat, sides, and desserts to feed your crowd (or choose a food if you are a guest). Leave room beside each dish to add the person’s name that will be making that food.  Be sure to involve everyone.  Even little kids can help with easy recipes.

Choose those recipes

Once you’ve decided which dishes you and your family will be making, decide the best recipe to make it.  Gather all of your recipes together and have fun.  I just happen to have a fabulous turkey recipe, pie crust, pecan pie, and apple pie recipe you can use.  You know that if I use these recipes, they’ve got to be easy!

Write that grocery list

Write out your grocery list now that you know what you will be cooking.  Don’t put it off – go grocery shopping a.s.a.p.! You’ll be glad you did when next week rolls around.

Speaking of next week, on Monday I’ll be sharing exactly what we’re eating for our Thanksgiving meal and what to thaw out and cook ahead of time.  I’ll also share some ideas for Thanksgiving games and fun the whole family will enjoy.  It’s going to be a Happy Thanksgiving this year – just you wait and see!

Are you and your family hosts or guests this Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️



  1. Rhonda
    November 14, 2017 / 10:19 am

    We will be doing Thanksgiving at my parents’ this year and to help alleviate stress for her, my sisters and I decided to make it more of a pot luck. If not, she would do it all on her own LOL moms haha

    • Shan
      November 14, 2017 / 10:57 am

      That’s wonderful, Rhonda! Good for you! Yes, Moms will be Moms. haha

      much love,

  2. Ayanna
    November 14, 2017 / 11:26 am

    These are great tips! We travel every other Thanksgiving and this is our year to be home. Your meal planner sheet will definitely come in handy this year.

    • Shan
      November 14, 2017 / 12:28 pm

      Yay! That makes my day, Ayanna! Have fun 🙂

      much love,

  3. Emily
    November 14, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    I love this! Everyone in my house pitches in to help, and it makes it so much easier!

  4. Sophie
    November 15, 2017 / 7:16 am

    That meal planner is so useful! I like having family recipes written down somewhere special (DIY recipe book or box). They can be ones handed down by family members or ones I found and loved.

  5. Shanna Crowell
    November 15, 2017 / 7:51 am

    Thank you for this article! I really enjoyed reading it! We have been invited to a friend’s this year. At first, I was debating on whether to go as I love to put on a dinner but then realized how great it will be not to have the stress of cooking the whole dinner and being able to enjoy cooking a few of my favorite dishes to bring with me. My girls love to cook with me and as they get older that is a huge help.

  6. Rebecca Strength and Sunshine
    November 15, 2017 / 8:30 am

    I love Thanksgiving and being able to have my extended family actually try my recipes!

  7. Julie Ann Filter
    November 15, 2017 / 9:25 am

    I am trying to figure this solution out for our family this year too. I am leaning towards a simple simple Thanksgiving holiday, since we are far from family and really don’t have space to do the whole shindig alone. We’ll see what we figure out. Thanks for all the tips! We surely want to focus on the GIVING THANKS part of it all, rather than the food, lol =0) Much love!

  8. Jazz
    November 15, 2017 / 3:16 pm

    I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner the past few years but am actually hosting in my own home for the first time next week. It’s definitely stressful so this post is timely!

  9. shelley
    November 15, 2017 / 7:43 pm

    I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the entire holiday season for years and have vowed NOT to be the parent who causes stress for my own kids! I’ve scheduled this to my Facebook page for tomorrow afternoon. May everyone have a peaceful – and stress-free – holiday!

  10. Lauren
    November 16, 2017 / 9:30 pm

    It really is all about being organized! Since I’ve been writing my Thanksgiving to-do’s down I feel so much less stressed!


  11. Rebecca Hicks
    November 17, 2017 / 3:07 pm

    Great tips! I love how easy you make it with all the great tips! 🙂 I do a lot of similar things any time I have guests over for dinner, and when it’s my turn to host Thanksgiving, I’ll definitely follow suit!

  12. Marissa | Marissa's Teachable Moments
    November 20, 2017 / 7:57 am

    Great tips for a stress-free holiday! Perfect ways to maximize quality time with family.

  13. Sarah Althouse
    November 20, 2017 / 9:03 am

    Ooh if I get to host one of these years I will revisit this post to help reduce my stress!

  14. Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat.
    November 20, 2017 / 11:41 am

    We are guests but we always gather potluck style so the ladies of the family always have a pow-wow about the menu a few weeks before. This year I’m in charge of mac and cheese, broccoli casserole, fruit, and a cheesecake as requested by my husband and kids 😉

  15. Marie, Mamma's Cooking
    November 20, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    For the first time in a long time, I am not hosting and it feel like a huge weight lifted! I just have to bring desserts and my brother is keeping it simple by getting most of the meal catered by a great grocery store. Great when everyone is on the same page to keep it simple and low key!

  16. Kate
    November 20, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    These are really great tips! It’s so easy to get stressed over the holidays and forget that it’s supposed to be FUN!

  17. Caroline
    November 20, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    This time of year can be stressful with so much to do and family but you’ve listed some great tips to help make things easier – thankyou!

  18. Alyssa
    November 20, 2017 / 10:59 pm

    Ahh, love this simple breakdown! Thanks for sharing 🙂 We pulled together our recipes and grocery list tonight…shopping then baking starts tomorrow!

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