Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with friends and family in quiet and reflective celebrations of gratitude. However, when you put a mix of different personalities and age groups together in a high-stress situation and throw in the chaos of thanksgiving travel, there's bound to be some conflict. Be proactive in creating that perfect holiday atmosphere by learning how to get along with everyone at Thanksgiving.
Set Boundaries. When you are the host of a Thanksgiving dinner you have the extra stress of pulling together a fabulous meal as well as entertaining guests who might even be staying for a few days. Be clear about what will happen on the big day, and express yourself clearly and kindly. You are also allowed to declare to everyone what rooms are off-limits, including the kitchen and dining area where you are working.
Choose Your Battles. If your aunt insists that it's just not Thanksgiving without her famous sweet potato casserole, don't fight it, even if you think it's too sweet. A good host will recognize that Thanksgiving traditions exist within every home, and honoring those traditions make the day special. Rather than allowing your aunt to make the pie in your own kitchen, be proactive and ask guests ahead of time to bring a sentimental and special dish to the table. Choose what you want to stand firm on and what really isn't that big of a deal.
Make Space. Plan to have different activities throughout the house so guests are not on top of each other. Allow the football fans to collect around the television to watch the game, while teenagers can hang out on the porch. Set up a kids' station with coloring, blocks and crafts in a child-safe room and plan on all the chefs congregating in the kitchen area with you.
Decide to Be Happy. Embrace the true meaning of the day, and don't internalize any family drama. There are always family members who like to belittle, criticize and assert their opinion. Give yourself a pep talk before the guests arrive, and make sure you know deep down that you are smart and accomplished. Don't let any small critique or offhand comment send you into a downward spiral. On the flip side, make sure to compliment others genuinely, and spread the good feelings around.
Family-that's what we think about at the Thanksgiving table. We are all thankful for so many things, but having family members nearby is one of many wonderful Thanksgiving family traditions.
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