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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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