Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday! I love family getting together, and the food, and it’s the one time of year I love to cook! But this holiday tends to be really stressful and can get in the way of making those special memories. I’ve fallen into the trap myself of wanting to do everything myself, stressing to make everything perfect, and taking on too much by myself. I know I’m not the only one to do this, either. I see the same woes from my fellow spouses, and in advice columns for popular housekeeping magazines. But, it doesn’t have to be!
If you tackle this big feat (or feast) with a business approach, it’s much more easily managed. Think of dinner as a project in the workplace, and apply those principles to Thanksgiving.
Start with the big picture, and reverse engineer. How many people need to be accommodated? How much food is necessary for everyone? What about space accommodations, and special activities? How is this going to fit in your budget, and can your home or fridge space hold everyone and everything? (To be clear, your fridge space should not be holding anyone, just the food for everyone)
2. Build your team and delegate
First of all, don’t do everything yourself. It’s not only a disservice to you with the extra workload, but also to your guests with missing out on quality time with you. Also, around the holidays, people want to cook.
While you’re spreading out the workload, make sure you’re doing it smartly. Know everyone’s strengths and delegate to suit those strengths. If Aunt Betsy always burns dinner, she’d be great for bringing plasticware! Or that cousin that’s always late can bring dessert.
3. Set a schedule
The best way to get through a major project is to set deadlines for yourself and your team to stay on track. This works wonderfully for Thanksgiving as well! The turkey takes a few days to defrost, vegetables can be stored for a few days, and cranberry sauce can be chilled. By figuring out your limits and what tasks, or dishes, are most pressing to be fresh, set yourself with smaller deadlines to work up to the big day.
4. Tackle the project in smaller bites
This is where reverse engineering really comes in handy! By thinking of the end state, and breaking it down into little steps that need to be taken to reach that, you’re setting yourself up for success by focusing on one thing at a time. When there’s no clear path to reach a goal, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed and try to juggle many things at once and fail.
5. Remember the goal
This is the most important step, in my opinion. This is what helped me push through my undergraduate degree, while juggling the military lifestyle and the special Murphy's Law it brings to the table. Remember why you’re doing this and what you’re wanting to get from it. This always helps maintain focus and motivation working up to the end state. For Thanksgiving, the goal is gratitude and family-time. Have you ever thought less of a person by not providing you with the perfect meal? Me neither! Remembering why you’re going through this big meal will allow you to give yourself grace, and realize your limits and realize that everything will be OK.
Written by Zaneta Padilla