Ah, 2020. For most of us, “2020” hangs over us like a curse. It’s a year that we want to put behind us. But, it’s not over yet — AND the holidays are upon us!
Luckily, this is not a place that gives up hope. This year could be your most memorable Thanksgiving yet! That’s why I’m going to share my top tips for hosting Thanksgiving like a BOSS, with a few extra tips that are specific to executing the holiday in 2020.
1. Declutter your surfaces.
2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving, focus your decluttering on clearing your surfaces. Visually, having a clear surface makes us feel calm and reduces stress. Honestly, who can’t use a little more calm and de-stressing this year?!
2. Get on top of your laundry!
If you have piles of laundry everywhere, this is a great time to tackle those piles AND stay on top of it. Having your laundry done and put away before the holiday season will help you enjoy the season more. Laundry is one household task that does NOT need to pile up. The longer the piles sit there, the more it weighs on your mind.
Set your timer and see how quickly you can get your clean laundry put away. Who knows — maybe tackling your laundry now will help you put an end to the habit of letting it pile up. Maybe this new habit of tackling your laundry more often will follow into the new year and set you up for success in 2021.
3. Start Thanksgiving Day with an empty dishwasher and an empty washing machine.
Having these two appliances ready to work for you on the big day will be so helpful. You might be asking, why do I need an empty washing machine?! I just got caught up on all of my laundry! With more people in your home and with all of the cooking going on, it’s inevitable that you’ll be cleaning up a spill or two (or more!). At the end of the dinner, when people are heading home and you’re exhausted from the day, it’ll be a welcome relief to just throw all of those dishtowels and dirty linens into the washer without having to shuffle other laundry around. It’ll wrap up your day nicely!
Of course, having the dishwasher empty is critical because you’re going to be using a lot of dishes while cooking, and/or you’ll use a lot of dishes for eating the meal. Set yourself up for success with an easier cleanup by starting the day with an empty dishwasher and washing machine.
4. Eat Thanksgiving dinner at dinner time. There’s A LOT of preparation that goes into a Thanksgiving dinner, including the turkey, which can take a long time to cook. Instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to prepare the turkey, give yourself the gift of sleeping in or enjoying a leisurely morning. I promise this will make a big difference in your day.
5. Have a written plan.
When planning a large dinner, it’s so helpful to write down what you’ll need for that day. This should include the recipes you’re using, your shopping list, the timing for dishes going into the oven, and an overall timeline for the day. Anything that you can put down in a written plan will help you during the day when you’re distracted by company or getting caught up in what’s going on in your home.
Having a plan you can quickly refer to will help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to prepare an entire side dish — because I didn’t have it written down! Just having this little bit of structure will help you enjoy the day more.
6. Work in reverse order from when you want to eat dinner.
For example, if you want to have dinner at 6 pm, set a timeline from then and work in reverse order. Plan to have your turkey done one hour before dinner time. The best-case scenario is that your turkey will be done early, and not late. If the turkey is done early, no problem! Just cover it in aluminum foil, fold a clean bath towel in half and cover the whole thing in the towel. This will help keep the turkey at a perfect temperature, and moist, even if you’re not carving it for another 1-2 hours! So definitely give yourself that hour buffer between your dinner time and pulling your turkey out of the oven.
My last four tips are really relevant to Thanksgiving in 2020. Yes, we are celebrating the holidays during a pandemic year full of highly charged social issues, but there are things we can do to make sure this Thanksgiving will not feel bad for us.
Things are just different this year. I’ve been talking about Thanksgiving in my groups and with all of my clients. A lot of people are having a smaller Thanksgiving, especially with some states having limits on large gatherings and setting curfews.
Some people will be having Thanksgiving alone for the first time this year.
Please know that my heart goes out to you, if this Thanksgiving is going to feel very different for you this year, and if you’re having a difficult time. I want to recognize and honor this because Thanksgiving is about gathering and being with family. To have that taken away can feel downright awful.
So what can we do in this situation to make Thanksgiving feel not so difficult?
7. Do what is best for YOU.
If your Thanksgiving is going to be different this year, or if you simply want to give yourself a break, then go ahead and order your Thanksgiving meal from your favorite local restaurant, or from the grocery store, so that it’s all cooked and prepared for you.
If this is what will make you happy, then do it! Do what’s best for you and do not feel any shame over not cooking. Maybe this just isn’t your year to cook. That’s OK. Do what’s best for you and your family. You do not need added stress this year. Really. It’s MORE than OK to give yourself a break.
8. Reflect on your traditions.
One positive thing about 2020 is it’s a great year for reflection! Because this year is so different, it’s a great time for us to take inventory of holiday traditions. Which traditions do you absolutely love, and which traditions have you done out of obligation to others? It’s a good year for making adjustments moving forward, for conversation and reflection.
9. Discuss your expectations for the holiday season with your family members.
When it comes to clutter and to life, communication is absolutely key. What are your expectations for this holiday season? What’s the one or two things that would make you feel your best? What are the things that you really don’t want to forgo? What are your family’s expectations? What do your kids really want for the holiday season? What is the one thing that they really want to do, or the one dish they really want to eat at Thanksgiving?
Be very clear about expectations, and the whole holiday season will go a lot smoother. Remember, never be afraid to ask for what you want. Share what you want. Share your expectations.
10. Make sure you’re not shopping because you’re feeling bad.
There are lots of good reasons to shop. But shopping because you’re feeling depressed and you’re filling a void in your life by purchasing stuff — we know it will feel good at the moment, but it won’t feel good later on when the guilt sets in.
If you’re feeling lonely, sad, or depressed and you think you need retail therapy, make sure you’re shopping for the right reasons. Make sure you’re not adding to the regret that you’ll feel later on. Retail therapy is one of those funny things where it makes you feel good immediately, but in the long run, it actually makes you feel worse.
If you need that shopping therapy, don’t forget about “catch and release.” Go fill up your cart, then release it all back to the store. You don’t need to walk out of the store with anything in order to feel that quick, but fleeting euphoria of retail therapy.
Think of some alternatives to shopping that will relieve your stress. The #1 thing you can do for yourself to instantly relieve stress is going for a walk and being in nature. Make sure that whatever you do to relieve stress will not only feel good 10 minutes from now but 10 days from now or 10 months from now. Set yourself up for future success.
Although I’ve shared these tips with Thanksgiving in mind, these tips will come in handy for ANY nice dinner you’re planning to have at your house. Whether it’s a large gathering or a small event, these tips will help throughout the year.
I wish you all a very happy holiday season. I’m sending out lots of love to you and your family during this exceptionally strange year.
If you need support during the 2020 holiday season, I encourage you to join Clutter Bootcamp. There is a whole community in the Prioritize Your Sanity group who are just beautiful and giving people, and they’re ready to support you!
Subscribe to my YouTube channel for my weekly podcast, “It’s All Clutter,” to follow more tips like this!