Things To Remember As You Amp Up For Thanksgiving

We've all got weird hang-ups when it comes to this one, but: it should rule.

November 16, 2017 ● 3 min read

By Richie Nakano | Image CSA Archives via iStock

Ask people what their favorite holiday is and almost everyone will give you a different answer.  

Your bro friends will say Fourth of July, your thirsty friends will say Halloween, and your sketchy friend that you don't hang out with much anymore will say Flag Day. There’s a holiday for everyone, but not enough people choose Thanksgiving.  

And fair enough; growing up, Thanksgiving is a headache. It’s long trip to your grandparents' house, where you'd spend hours laying around—which sounds great in retrospect—watch some crappy football game, eat some dry-ass turkey at the kid's table, then bicker with your siblings until you were forced to bus the adult table and wash everything up with your tiny, tiny hands. As holidays go, it's a solid 4/10 on the kid scale.  

The truth is though, that Thanksgiving is the best, especially if you're willing to bend its rigid rules a bit. You’re an adult now, and you can do whatever the fuck you want. Here's five rules to live by. 

1. Break up the eating and pace yourself. 

Thanksgiving is great because most everyone has the day off, and unless your friends and family are monsters, none of them will be in a rush to head off to an early Black Friday sale at Target. This means you can start the eating early with all manner of dips, shrimp cocktails, cheeses, and cured meats. Break out the cider and fizzy wine and have all the snacks while working your way through prepping dinner. Also, though tempting, you don't have to load up your plate with a little mound of every single dish on your first go—unless your family eats like a pack of wild dogs, in which case, get in there and stand your ground. This may be your only chance to snag the corner of the marshmallow sweet potatoes. CORNERS GO FIRST.

2. Divide and conquer (and have a friend that’s good at spreadsheets). 

Cooking a meal comprised of dishes you eat once or twice a year for a large group of people is a dicey proposition. So, set up a Google doc and invite your guests to it, and have everyone sign up for a dish, a dessert, or fifteen bottles of wine. (If you only bring booze, you didn't actually do any work so you have to bring A LOT of booze. Those are the rules, sorry.) The spreadsheet doubles as a checklist to make sure you didn't forget anything, which will soothe your holiday anxiety.  

3. Overdo it on the beverages.

The proper arc of Thanksgiving beverages goes: sparkling wine, white wine, cocktails, beer, red wine, Irish coffee, and finishes with four huge cups of water right before bed. Thanksgiving is festive, and you don't want to run out of drinks halfway through the day so overdo it—but don't OVERDO it. Don't go too hard too early and wind up passing out in a folding chair in the corner.  

4. Invite your friends, but maybe not your racist cousin.

Ask your friends what their plans for the holidays are. You'll be surprised by how many of them don't have plans at all. Gathering up all of these people with no plans under one roof leads to awesome interactions—there's something about getting a bunch of people who don't know each other very well in a joyous atmosphere that leads to a fun, memorable holiday. On the flip side of this, don't feel compelled to invite difficult family members if you don't want to. You’ll  see them next month. Let Thanksgiving be yours.  

5. It doesn't need to be fancy.

Look, you aren't Martha Stewart, so you can chill. Your dining table doesn't need to look like a Pinterest board. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat off of paper plates and drink out of plastic cups if you want to save yourself from a mountain of dishes (or, like me, own only three plates and five forks). You’re going to need extra tables and chairs, but if you plan ahead everyone will be comfortable and relaxed. The main thing is just letting go and enjoying yourself—if you can manage that, you've won.