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10 Tips for Hosting an Amazing Thanksgiving Dinner

10 Tips for Hosting an Amazing Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and hoards of people will be gathering together with friends and family to celebrate the bounty of the season. Here are a few ways to ensure that your holiday celebration will be a fabulous one; free from stress, fights, and anaphylactic shock.

1. Invite Those Whom You Know Will Get Along

It’s sweet and ambitious to hope that quarrelling relatives will use a time of togetherness as an opportunity to let bygones be bygones, but if a couple of people haven’t spoken to each other for years because they can’t stand one another, your dinner party isn’t going to be the balm that eases all ills. If you’d like a stress-free, pleasant get-together, invite friends and family members who actually like one another and will mingle well. You can see the more ornery ones over the winter holidays.

2. Ask Everyone About Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Restrictions

Most of us have friends and family members of various ethnic/religious backgrounds, and there are a variety of food restrictions that go along with certain cultures and faiths. Furthermore, whether someone avoids a certain food because of personal ethics, or because it will make them horrifically ill, it’s best to avoid adding any of it to your meal plan. The last thing any host or hostess wants to do is kill anyone with their cooking, so as soon as you receive confirmation that your guests will be attending, ask them about any foods that may be forbidden. The same goes for if kids are attending: some may be solely accustomed to “kid food” and will refuse what’s being served, so ask parents what (if anything) the kidlets will eat, so some of that is available.

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If you find yourself in a situation where your guests have multiple food restrictions between them (vegan, nut allergies, kosher/halal, gluten-free, etc.), you might wish to visit a site such as Epicurious.com for recipe ideas. In the upper left section of the page, you can click on the “advanced search” button, and it’ll allow you to add different criteria to your search. When in doubt whether something is acceptable or not, clear it with your guests first. Alternatively, you can go another route entirely…

3. Make It a Potluck

One way to ensure that everyone can eat something at your party is to make it a potluck. Have every guest bring a favourite dish of theirs, so all attendees have the opportunity to try something new (if they like), or stick to what they know is safe for them. This alleviates stress (as well as workload for the host), and you never know—you may discover a new, fabulous recipe that you’d never encountered before.

4. Don’t Try to Do It All Alone

Many hosts end up stressed out and frustrated because they get so overwhelmed by trying to handle every aspect of the celebration itself that they don’t end up enjoying the actual event. Gather together friends and family members and allot certain tasks to everyone: this way, everything will get done, and you won’t end up sitting on the kitchen floor crying into your wine glass.

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5. Make a Schedule, and Stick to It

Estimate how much time is required to prep + cook each item, so you can schedule when different dishes have to be popped into the oven or heated on the stove top. Salads and side dishes can be prepared ahead of time and then just dressed or heated prior to serving, and you can likely tetris the pans inside your oven to bake (or just heat) numerous dishes at the same time. If necessary, place sticky notes on your appliances so you know that X has to go into the oven at 4 pm, and Y needs chocolate grated on it just before it’s served.

6. Assign Seats

When it comes to seating, it’s important to consider who’s going to sit where; you don’t want all the extroverts at one end of the table, leaving the opposite end all awkward and silent. Try to place the more vivacious people at regular intervals around the dining space, as they’ll engage those around them in conversation. On the other hand, if you know that one of your guests is rather shy and quiet, don’t sit them too close to a chatterbox, as they’ll be tempted to stab themselves with their butter knife twenty minutes into the meal, just for an excuse to flee.

7. Keep Children Occupied

If children are attending, they’ll likely be bored out of their skulls halfway through the evening. If you can set aside a small area for art/crafts, fabulous. If not, you can always usher them into a room with a movie or some video games so they’re not subjected to boring grown up conversations.

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8. Give Away Leftovers

There will undoubtedly be leftovers after the meal, so encourage your guests to bring plastic containers with them so you can foist some on them. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck with zero fridge space, or a bunch of food that you may not want to eat for a week afterwards.

9. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

There’s absolutely no reason why you should feel that you need to do all the cleaning up by yourself, especially if those attending are close friends/family. After you’ve finished eating, ask for a bit of help tidying up, and get another couple of people to help set up for dessert. If you know that one person loves to mix drinks or serve wine, get them on booze duty. Keep your sink full of soapy water and encourage people to plop dirty dishes in so they can soak over the course of the evening.

10. Allot Time to Relax

If you’re hosting this year’s party, be sure to book some time off the following day to just. chill. out. Even the most stress-free party will require a lot of work, and it’ll likely do you good to have some “you” time the next day.

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It’s inevitable that something may not go entirely according to plan, and that’s absolutely okay. Try to flow with things, keep a sense of humour, and remember that you’re among those who love you: dinner doesn’t have to be “perfect” in order to be amazing.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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