How To Do Thanksgiving the Right Way

Ah, Thanksgiving. If you’re like me, it’s one of those holidays that just gets better every time. The best part about Thanksgiving is its simplicity: it’s a holiday centered on eating an awesome meal. But there are many different ways you can make Thanksgiving even more special. Here are some tips on how to have a Thanksgiving for the ages.

Relax: Thanksgiving can be stressful. When the turkey burns and the gravy turns a ghastly shade of purple, don’t let it destroy your holiday. Nobody in the family expects everything to be perfect, so you shouldn’t expect it from yourself. If all else fails, you can always order pizza. Everyone loves pizza.

Involve Everyone: This one is essential. No matter the age of your guests, everyone has something to offer. Invite your family members to bring their own side dishes. If you have young children, invite them to bring crafts to decorate the table with. A big part of Thanksgiving is sharing, and if everyone feels that they’ve brought something to the table, it only adds to the community atmosphere.

Quit the Diet for a Day: If there’s one day all year to skip the diet, this is the one. You don’t have to gorge yourself, but don’t let calorie counting get in the way of your good time. It’s impossible to feel thankful eating string beans while everyone else chows down on delicious gravy-smothered turkey. Get into the holiday spirit and indulge yourself this one time. You can always jog it off in the morning.

Choose Beverages Wisely: With such a food-centric holiday, it can be very easy to overlook the importance of choosing the right beers and wines for Thanksgiving. On the beer side, make sure to find some robust flavors to wash down the Thanksgiving fare. Stay away from mild lagers; a good Belgian Ale will be perfect. On the wine side, Pinot Noirs with their earthy tones offer a delicious complement to the savory food. For the kids, sparkling cider is the essential Thanksgiving beverage.

No Peeping Turkeys: One of the cardinal sins of Thanksgiving is opening the oven door to catch a whiff of that turkey before it’s done. This will dry out the meat and greatly diminish your chances of achieving that succulent, moist texture that is indicative of a perfectly cooked turkey. Duct tape the oven shut if you have to. You’ll be glad you did in the long run.

Make Wise Travel Arrangements: If your Thanksgiving plans include air travel, use caution when booking flights. It can be tempting to just hop on to the cheapest airfare, but pay close attention to your actual itinerary. Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and the overloaded airports can cause massive delays across the country. Delays can make you miss your connection and instigate a travel nightmare, so opting for a nonstop flight can be very worth the extra cost. If you must have a layover somewhere, make it at least 2 hours so if your first flight is delayed a while it doesn’t jeopardize your second one.

Football: The Pilgrims roll in their graves every time a person goes through a Thanksgiving without at least taking a few moments to pay homage to this truly American sport. It can be anything from watching all 9 hours of NFL coverage to simply tossing a pigskin in the backyard. No matter how many thanks you give on this day, make sure the football gods get their due respect.

Cook Ahead of Time: An easy way to make the meal preparation less stressful is to do as much cooking as possible in advance. Most side dishes can be made in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, so plan wisely. This allows you to spend more time with your family before you sit down to dinner.

Decorate for Cheap: There’s no reason to purchase decorations if all you need can be found in your backyard. Thanksgiving is partly the celebration of all the things Mother Nature has to offer, and decorations are certainly one of them. Find some pinecones and fall leaves to scatter around the table to complete that autumnal feel.

Just thinking about all this turkey is making me feel hungry. All one truly needs to have a great Thanksgiving is great company. What are your tricks that really push the holiday over the top?

Emma Stover is sometimes a writer and always a food-lover. She prefers to eat her Thanksgiving in bed.

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