Candice Smith of Hopatcong is a bestselling author, with mutiple books, and local expert on how to make each of your Holiday's special, In this article she provides advice on Thanksgiving.
Driving around Hopatcong and its surrounding areas around the Lake, it is evident people are anxious to usher this Holiday Season into their hearts and homes.
With a week to go there’s still time to make Thanksgiving the focal point of the start of the 2020 Holiday Season!
It is finally time to figure out what you need it you are hosting. This is usually not a "surprise" dinner menu, most Americans have at least one turkey on their table even if it may be accompanied by something else.
Decide who will be at your table this year (or whose table you will be joining) and make a plan.
“But it's a whole week away, I don't even know what I'm having tonight for dinner!"
True, but the tiniest bit of planning NOW makes that HUGE celebratory dinner that much more manageable resulting in a more fun, relaxing, and joyful event.
Instead of doing the whole dinner yourself, assign everyone something to do. If you are hosting, allow others to bring side dishes and desserts. Be ready to assign specifically so your table doesn't have five mashed potato bowls and nothing else!
If you are a guest, learn to make one side dish and one dessert in addition to bringing wine or chocolates. And, yes, bringing a store-bought version is acceptable if that's the best you can do!
The point of the holidays and Thanksgiving especially may seem like food, but that is just a conduit to together time. Being at the table TOGETHER – even if some of the family is virtual - to "break bread" but also talk, reminisce, share, and just BE together.
A stressed-out host cannot enjoy the event completely, so whatever side of an invitation you are on - inviting or being invited - make the meal a group effort.
Plan a bit for Thanksgiving today and reap the rewards next week!
As for your dinner tonight - either Pizza or Reservations!
What about decorations?
Proudly display children’s crafts, especially during the holidays.
This one is probably logical for most, but the credo doesn’t have to end once the child is older or all grown up.
These little treasures are the history of your family. Displaying them becomes a tradition. And, frankly, you honor the child and his/her childhood by lovingly displaying their masterpieces.
My children are no longer assigned Holiday crafts by their teachers. I value each one, display them proudly year after year, and look forward to looking upon them as each season changes.
In addition to their crafts, incorporate your child/ren’s interests - and your own - when decorating.
A breakable statue of Santa Claus may be a part of your decor, but your child may not feel a connection to it nor feel comfortable around it.
To get your child/ren involved, try allowing them to create ornaments, pictures, and other items to place around the home in high traffic areas. This gives them a sense of pride and a vested interest in their celebration.
My middle child works in LEGO. Thanksgiving holiday sets (Pilgrim and Turkey) were purchased when he was far younger and he made them quickly to add to our Thanksgiving tablescape. He was completely enamored with his role in helping to make the holiday special!
Making every member of the family a part of planning, decorating, and executing the holidays makes for a more joyous occasion all around!
Many hands make light work, and those many hands can each have a valued part in making the holidays special.
Make Thanksgiving Day/weekend easier.
There’s still ample time to pick up beautiful Thanksgiving paper products for this year’s celebration.
Again, they needn’t be expensive - the local dollar store has a beautiful array of a substantial number of products to put on your holiday table.
Any item of this kind to make one’s life easier and afford more time with their loved ones at the table is a great thing.
Think about a disposable foil turkey pan - no clean up! Paper napkins for every meal - no extra laundry! Paper plates for dessert or turkey sandwich lunches - no dishes!
And the awesome designs and sayings become part of your Thanksgiving decor!
For a small “investment”, one receives a huge dividend in time and less toiling.
Take a run for as many convenience items you can find and use.
Make November 26, 2020 the Thanksgiving you actually did less, still dazzled, and enjoyed more!
2020 has been a trying year at best. Celebrating Thanksgiving this year will be challenging for some who cannot recreate traditional feasts of the past due to myriad reasons.
But celebrate we must as it reinforces our place in the family, our community, and our society at large.
If celebrating will look differently this year, then let’s embrace some new traditions!
Perhaps your family has always incorporated game play into your celebrations. Touch football, video gaming tournaments, and chess matches are all still great, but make some time for these games, too.
Thanksgiving Bingo. Pick up a set or two or create your own. Great for children of all ages, and something that can be played with virtual guests as well.
Trivia. Jeopardy-style is great (RIP Alex Trebek), as are Trivial Pursuit questions. But I’m referring to far more personal trivia.
Questions like “What’s your biggest dream?”, “What’s your best childhood memory”, and “How did you meet and fall in love with Grandma?” are fabulous questions to get to know your family and close friends even better.
If doing virtual celebrating, these questions allow for more intimacy to the day in addition to hearing what people are thankful for this year. And if together in person, it allows each participant to talk about themself and be heard and understood. That’s reason to be thankful right there!
You needn’t own the games pictured. Start writing questions down in a notebook or the notes section of your phone. Ask those sharing your table to do the same.
Learning about one another - yes, even the people you grew up with or still live with - will create stronger bonds and deeper understanding, something we all need from one another.
As always, these tips are not just for one specific holiday. Whether Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year’s, these ideas work, this year, next year, and every year!
Wishing you all a very safe, healthy, blessed, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Candice Smith is a local Hopatcong author who has published Christmas Candi: A Guide To Year-round Holiday Bliss (2018), The Man Behind The Beard (2019), and Drafting the Culinary Circuits (2020). She is wife of Hopatcong Councilman Ryan Smith, mom to three wonderful children educated in Hopatcong schools, a Hopatcong Board of Education trustee, a licensed middle school and high school history teacher, and a paraprofessional at Stanhope Valley Road School. To learn more about her, visit Chief187.com.
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