10 Tips to Thrive (vs. survive) Thanksgiving
As great as family time is at Thanksgiving, we are still gathering a group of people with unique viewpoints into a smaller area for several days with less sleep, more alcohol and food, less exercise and even less private rejuvenation time. Add it up and it is an elixir for conflict!
Check out these 10 tips to turning surviving Thanksgiving into THRIVING at Thanksgiving!
1. Line up some co-collaborators.
Remember that nerves are already heightened because we all have little irritants with some family members and we are already on edge a little to start. Chances are you’re not the only one who is tired of some family members’ dysfunctional routines. Figure out who you can call on to help make things different. Then do some pre-event strategizing. Agree to tag-team each other with the folks you all find particularly difficult. Set up a signal you’ll use to call in a replacement. Brainstorm ways to steer a certain individual’s troublesome antics in a different direction.
2. Drop this notion of perfectionism… perfect food, perfect house, perfect outfit…… Chill out and let go.
Take 3 long deep breathes and relax. Recognize that perfect is a concept that cannot be defined therefore never achieved. Look around and practice seeing the perfection (in people, things, yourself) versus seeing the imperfections. You will be amazed at what you experience. Give yourself and those around you a break. Consider we are all just doing the best we can in the moment and find joy in that relief.
3. Carve out some private “me” time.
You are in the “soup” of everyone’s energy especially if you are all “hold up” in the house together for hours/days. You aren’t used to being all together all the time (especially consider spouses) so respect that each person has different needs and make time to have some private space/time. Even extroverts need breathing room. No apologies. Just make it happen for yourself and support others to do the same. When you take care of yourself, everything else falls into place.
4. Create a seating arrangement that supports positive conversation.
We all have issues with someone in the family; feelings have been hurt or opinions are diabolically opposed. Create a seating chart that places people in proximity that enjoy each other to help relieve some of the anxiety of wondering if they have to sit together.
5. Introduce a new tradition.
Suggest something new and fun that everyone can do. Like making name cards for dinner creating someone elses’ name. Adults and children alike enjoy colored pens and paper! Make it a contest (with prizes) for the most unique name card. It is a great way to put everybody on the same level. It also gives the family, as a whole, a way to create new memories from something each person had a hand in making from scratch.
6. Keep some of your normal daily rituals and even spice it up a bit i.e. exercise, talking with friends, reading, hot bath….
Traveling and staying in places other than home can be disruptive. When you keep some of your daily routines it will give you a greater sense of normalcy, customized fun and less stress. Attend an exercise class in the neighborhood. Select something you wouldn’t do at home like salsa dancing or hip hop.
7. Choose to respond in a new way.
If that moment does come when you’ve just had enough. You are agitated, irritated, or just plain grumpy, in that second remember how the “old way to respond” didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped. Think of a new response or simply don’t respond. Consider even physically walking away removing yourself from the situation. A different outcome requires a different response to the same situation.
8. Choose your conversations.
If you find the topic of conversation too controversial, boring, uninteresting or irrelevant simply change the topic of conversation. If they persist on the topic try again or simply find someone in the family that is interested in having a conversation around the topics you are interested in. When you carve out time to speak about your passions, others are inspired too and naturally draw near to hear more about yours.
9. If there are problem drinkers in the family, have an “alcohol free” party or limit the alcohol. Let everyone know ahead of time that you are holding an alcohol-free party. Serve a sparkling drink and an interesting non-alcoholic punch. People in your family who can’t stand being at a gathering without an alcoholic haze will probably leave early or decline the invitation.
10. Give kids a way to be included. Then set them free. Many kids might feel trapped at a table with adults for extended periods of time. They get restless. They get whiny. They slump in their chairs. Yes, they should be expected to behave with at least a minimum of decorum during the meal but head off complaints and tantrums by planning something for them to do while the adults linger at the table. Have the materials for a simple craft project set up and ready to go. Remember that teenager in #4? Perhaps this is when she plays a game outside with the younger kids.