Are you hosting the big holiday dinner this year? It always seems like the busiest moms take on the most work, and the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah dinner is no exception. Over the years, a few turkeys and many bowls of sweet potatoes, I’ve come up with a few tips that can help make family gatherings run smoothly and hopefully take some work off of your plate (so perhaps you can take a seat, enjoy dinner and conversation).
- Shop Early and At “Off” Hours: The grocery store will be crowded as Thanksgiving draws near. You’ll be fighting for a parking space, a grocery cart and even the last can of pumpkin if you put off the trip. Make your list now and get to the store asap. If any last-minute items are needed, it’s a quick trip as Turkey Day gets closer. Avoid prime time shopping, if possible. You may not want to go anywhere after the kids are in bed, but you’ll be glad you did when the crowds are thinner at night. (Early morning is a great time, too.)
- Delegate, Delegate, Delegate: Most busy moms should be planning a potluck-type dinner. Make your master menu and assign each guest an item. Or ask if they have a favorite recipe they’d like to bring for the table. In our house, we take care of the main entrée and main side dishes. Our guests bring everything else, and they are more than happy to help. I also ask the older children to set the table, clear dishes and help with other age-appropriate tasks.
- Set up a kid zone for the youngest guests: When my children were young, I made sure there were plenty of crafts and activities to keep them busy. There are so many easy – and free – coloring sheets, crafts and activities you can find online. Take a few minutes to set up supplies in a safe area (hopefully away from the kitchen) to keep little ones entertained.
- For a fun dinnertime activity: One of my favorite activities to offer is conversation cards. After dinner, while everyone is still at the table, hand every guest a conversation card. Each card should have a question that the guest can answer, such as “If you had a superpower, which one would it be and why?” or “What famous person would you like to meet and why?” This is a really fun way to get everyone talking; get ready for some funny and interesting answers.