Hosting a Thanksgiving meal feels like a rite of passage. Cooking that big bird all by yourself the first time, not to mention finding room to seat a crowd and juggling the schedule of warming side dishes, is like the ultimate obstacle course in cooking. This can bring on a little stress, whether it's your first time or tenth.
But Thanksgiving is a holiday, albeit one often filled with other people and family time. What about you? How do you take advantage of a couple days off of work to emerge refreshed? Here are five things to consider doing for yourself on Thanksgiving morning. Not anyone else, not your guests — you.
Personally, I have to say that I think stress gets a bad rap. It's fine and normal to be stressed out when running a big meal, especially for the first time. Just consider it a little extra adrenaline!
But what's not great is letting the stress dominate the day so you're worried and tense and can't enjoy your food or your guests. A little stress in the moment is fine; don't stress over beating your stress. (Stress adding to stress — isn't that ironic!)
5 Things to Do for Yourself on Thanksgiving Morning
Instead, take steps to balance the inevitable stress with a peaceful morning and a few things done just for yourself, to give you space and peace before the guests descend.
1. Get plenty of sleep.
Before a big meal or party I tend to stay up very late and get up early, leading to utter exhaustion early in the day. To some extent this is inevitable, especially if you're on a tight schedule this holiday. But give yourself permission to sleep in an extra half hour, or skip one side dish or extra pie and put the time into sleep instead. It's a holiday!
2. Take a brisk walk.
A 15-minute walk on Thanksgiving morning will refresh and energize you, first thing in the morning. It will help you clear your head and wake you up. (And yes, it's preemptively burning off that gravy and stuffing, so win-win.) This is also a good time to think back over the past year and reflect on what has prompted gratitude in your life since last year's holiday.
3. Break out the pie.
You heard me — pumpkin pie makes such a great breakfast. Why not break out a piece now, before anyone else gets a chance? If you're divvying up pies in the kitchen after the meal anyway, no one will notice. Or make an extra pie to be reserved just for, you know, breakfast. Whatever you eat, though, do sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee and give yourself a little nourishment and quiet before you jump up and start cooking.
4. Turn on music that makes you happy.
Music on a big day of cooking is so important — turn on what makes you happy!
5. Schedule in time for a shower.
This is one of my most important tips for you: When you make your schedule of everything that needs to be cooked on Thanksgiving Day, give yourself a line or two on that schedule to shower and take a breath before the guests come. I always do this now, since I like to shower and freshen up after the bulk of the cooking has been done. Don't forget to pencil yourself in.
And for all that, remember this is a holiday and the point is to eat good food together! It's fine to be a bit stressed out, but don't forget to care for yourself, as gratitude and generosity start with you. I mean, if Ina herself still admits to getting stressed out when guests come over, we can all cut ourselves a little slack. Remember that quote from her?
"Everyone always says, 'you look so relaxed!' But they don't see me in the last 15 minutes, when I say to Jeffrey: 'Don’t talk to me!'"
Preach it, Ina.
Do you have any Thanksgiving morning rituals or habits?