Tips for reducing stress when hosting Thanksgiving dinner


blended family looking at iPad at Thanksgiving dinner table

If you’ve ever acted as the host for Thanksgiving, then you know how stressful the holiday can be. All of your friends and family are expecting a delicious feast, after all. However, the more stressed out you are, the less enjoyable the holiday will be for you - and you have just as much right to have a good time as your guests. To reduce your stress when hosting Thanksgiving dinner, consider the following tips.


Make time to exercise - Exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels, so be sure to give yourself time to exercise on the days leading up to Thanksgiving as well as on Thanksgiving.


Even going for a short 15 minute run in the morning or practicing a half hour of yoga can be extremely beneficial. It will help you relax as well as give you focus and energy to do what you need to do for the day.

Begin preparing Thanksgiving dinner well ahead of time - One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to wait until the day before Thanksgiving to shop for all the ingredients you need to cook Thanksgiving dinner.


Not only is it stressful to run around shopping at the last minute, but you may have problems finding ingredients that have sold out - or you may even forget ingredients and not realize it until you’re already cooking. Make a list of everything you need for Thanksgiving dinner and begin picking up ingredients weeks ahead of time. This way, you won’t have to rush to buy everything in a single trip.

Don’t be afraid of buying already prepared ingredients or dishes - Not everything you make has to be made from scratch. Your guests are most likely going to be more than thankful just to have a roasted turkey.


There’s no shame in buying pre-chopped frozen vegetables - and few people will even know the difference. You can even buy a few pre-made side dishes or desserts that just need to be heated up. This will help save you a lot of time and reduce your workload, which will go a long way in keeping your stress levels in check.

Keep it simple - Trying to impress your guests is fine, but you don’t need to go all out to do so. Sometimes a simple meal will more than suffice, meaning you don’t need 30 different side dishes and a banquet full of appetizers.


Don’t over exert yourself - keep it simple. You should also stick to recipes that you know how to make. Thanksgiving is not the time to try out extravagant new dishes.

Begin cooking the day before Thanksgiving - Trying to cook and bake everything on the day of Thanksgiving is going to be a challenging task. Even if you manage, you’ll end up spending the entire day in the kitchen, which is a stressful experience in itself, without getting a chance to socialize with your guests.


There are a number of dishes that can be prepared days in advance, from your gravy and mashed potatoes to your pies. These dishes can just be frozen and heated up on the day of.

Ask your guests to bring side dishes and desserts - There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little bit of help. Your guests should have no problem bringing an appetizer, side dish, dessert or bottle of wine if you ask them too. Not only will it lessen your workload, it will also give your Thanksgiving dinner more of a community atmosphere, which is perfect!


Give yourself breaks - When running errands prior to Thanksgiving and cooking on the day of, don’t forget to give yourself short breaks.


A 10- or 15-minute break to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee or to read a chapter in your book will help keep you from feeling drained at the end of the day.

Have a no politics at the table rule - One of the most stressful things about Thanksgiving is getting into it with friends and family about politics. A difference in opinion in regards to politics can get even the most loving family into heated shouting matches, so simply establish a no politics rule at the dinner table.


Thanksgiving should be an enjoyable holiday for everyone, including the host. If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, then use these tips to ensure that you don’t get stressed out.

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