(Family Features) Perhaps more than usual, the centerpiece this Thanksgiving won’t be the turkey, the stuffing or even family-famous recipes for sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie. Instead, when gathering around a table with loved ones, the precious moments of togetherness will be what many families treasure most.
This year, give yourself permission to savor the holiday and all its pleasures as a participant, rather than a harried host.
Make the prep part of the party. If you’re hosting a small group of friends or family, invite a few guests over early to fill your kitchen with laughter and plenty of able hands to help prepare the meal. If space is at a premium, enlist help by asking guests to do some of the prep work at home or simply plan a potluck meal with everyone bringing a dish that’s ready to serve.
Ditch cleanup duty. More casual celebrations are in the plans for 65% of people this season, according to a survey conducted by the Chinet® brand, and more than 80% of respondents agreed using disposable tableware can help reduce stress that may arise during the holiday season. Cleanup may be a necessary evil after a large Thanksgiving meal, but it need not take hours from your day.
Instead, rely on a disposable option like Chinet Classic White plates, which are strong enough to serve the heaviest, messiest meals with style. The convenient, microwave-safe line makes cleanup easy since you can simply toss them when you’re done. For example, dinner and compartment plates and trays are perfect for enjoying full-scale meals along with platters, bowls and napkins. Or, if your family prefers a more casual get-together with snacks and treats, appetizer and dessert plates offer easy ways for guests to serve themselves.
Stick to the essentials. Instead of giving into your urge to serve everyone’s favorites, limit your menu to a few crowd-pleasers. One style of stuffing will do, and it’s unlikely anyone will notice if you skip a few sides. Tone it down to the must-haves and let the others fall away. You may be surprised by how much time you can save. After all, you probably don’t need five different pies when you’ll end up serving just a slice or two from each.
Shop for shortcuts. If there is a dish or two that everyone counts on, go ahead and honor tradition. Otherwise, shop for time-trimming alternatives at the store. The salad bar typically offers a wealth of prepped ingredients like chopped onion and crumbled bacon, and there are a wide range of prepared foods you can simply heat and serve. Also check into the deli’s holiday specials; many stores offer bulk orders of freshly prepared items like mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and salads.
Simpler serving. Using your fine china can lead to a time-consuming effort in both setting it all out and cleaning those dishes at the end of the night. With an option like Chinet Cut Crystal plates, cups and wineglasses, you can add a touch of style to any event. The fully coordinated line of tableware allows you to dine in style then toss it all and move on to enjoying the rest of the day.
Make Way for New Traditions
Although there’s plenty of comfort to be found in holiday traditions, this year is the perfect excuse to mix things up a little and infuse some new ideas into your celebration.
Pass on family recipes. A traditional turkey dinner complete with a variety of seasonal sides and desserts is a staple for many families. To help ensure the tradition continues, use the extra time you may have together to teach older children how to prepare specific dishes that have been passed down through the generations. You could also have different family members like siblings or adult children take over making specific dishes, such as the turkey or pumpkin pie.
Share your good fortune. It’s been a rough year for many, in several different ways. If you and yours are able, dedicating a portion of your day to helping those who’ve fared worse can be a powerful bonding experience. Not only do you share the feel-good vibes that come from helping others, the experience can open your eyes to the many blessings you and your loved ones share.
Add group entertainment. If your family’s norm is to scatter as soon as the meal is done, or to scarf down a plate before returning to the gridiron action, look for ways to bring everyone together. Organize a board game tournament or gather a group to take a walk through the neighborhood and reminisce.
Learn a new skill. Discover something new about your loved ones by inviting one or two (or more) to share a special skill with the group. You can develop a new appreciation after an afternoon chatting while learning how to crochet, perform magic card tricks or make DIY decor for the holiday season.
Make a game of giving thanks. Ask each guest to jot down something they’re thankful for as they arrive. Later, after everyone has settled in, take turns drawing the cards, reading them aloud and letting everyone guess whose good tidings they’re hearing. It can be an easy way to catch up and allow you to celebrate special moments with one another.
Find more time-saving ideas for a Thanksgiving filled with warm memories at MyChinet.com.