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The Top Ten Ways to Prepare for Thanksgiving

With a few twists!

The holiday I lovingly call ‘The Mother of All Dinner Parties’ is upon us.   Newspapers and magazines will be packed with tips to help you plan out the meal.   In One Year to an Organized Life I devote the month of November to helping you get your home in order and my wonderful friend Chef Tanya offers step-by-step instructions to help you get a hot and tasty meal on the table.

Here are ten of my favorite tips. Some are a little less traditional than others!

  1. Give your kitchen a tune-up.  If you can find every tool you need quickly and easily you will open the door to enjoying the work that goes into creating Thanksgiving.
  2.  Label your newly organized cupboards and shelves so that helpful family members and friends won’t inadvertently destroy your hard work during clean up.
  3. Poll family and friends about the menu: what are the favorite dishes and which ones can be left off the menu?  Does your group enjoy experimentation or would they prefer a traditional meal?  Very often we assume we know our family and friends and never learn the things they are too shy to share.  Create that opportunity!
  4. Who can ease your burden by preparing some dishes for you?  Who will bring the wine and the dessert?  (No guest wants to show up empty handed! Guide them so their choices are a boon not a burden).  Vegetarians like myself enjoy all the extras and never miss the turkey.  Would your gang be open to a’ turkey less’ celebration?
  5. If you work full time, have children to raise and/or don’t enjoy entertaining, why not ask a family member to take over the celebration?  Pass the torch or rather the turkey roaster!
  6. Make your table more festive by mixing china. I hear Martha does it so it must be ‘a good thing,’ right? You can have fun matching personality to china pattern.
  7. Driving to see the family? Get your car service early! Be sure you have chains, extra water, food or blankets for emergencies. And don’t leave home without a fully charged cell phone.  Be sure you take the charger with you so you are just as safe for the return trip.  Flying out to see family? Get your tickets now.  Airlines will raise their prices soon so get your now before you unnecessarily waste funds that could be used for gifts.
  8. If the kids are not coming home this year, why not take a literal holiday from the celebration and go on a cruise, hit a ski slope or eat out in a restaurant?
  9. If your holiday table is full of guests who would balk at a meal blessing, ask everyone to share something from their lives for which they grateful this Thanksgiving.  It can happen during the meal and sets a lovely tone for good digestion.  It also delays Aunt Tilly asking why you aren’t married yet.
  10. Add an act of charity to your day: volunteer to cook or serve a meal; visit a hospital or long term care facility and read to someone who would otherwise be alone for the holiday.  Call the USO if you live near a big airport and see if they need volunteers to greet soldiers that day.  And don’t forget your local animal shelter. You can take an orphan dog for a walk and pat the head of a lonely kitty.


Traditions are wonderful.  They unite families and tribes across the centuries.  But new traditions can be a refreshing change.  You won’t know unless you are open to the new, the experimental and the non-traditional.  This holiday season will only come around once.  Make it memorable. I’m having a vegan meal at an animal rescue this year.  I’ve never done anything like this before but I can’t urge you to shake things up if I am tradition bound, can I?

Regina Leeds
‘The Zen Organizer’

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