Organize a celebration full of thanks

The celebration season is here. Thanksgiving, Yom Kippur, Advent, Hanukkah, Diwali, New Year, birthdays and so many more. We are very lucky to have so many times to celebrate with family and friends. It can be fun and a stressful time for some people.  Coordinating schedules, planning menus and preparing the house can make it a busy time. Here are some tips to make the day full of thanks and you less stressed.

A wooden background with leaves surrounding the word thankful.

1. Decorating

Some people love decorating and others don’t. So this advice is for those who don’t like decorating. Decorate with large items. They make a big impression with less work. If you use big items there is less to put out, put away and store. Use items that “self-destruct” and are thrown away after their time is over.

Large items to decorate with are:

  • Tablecloths – when the table is covered the entire room looks decorated. You can use a washable one or a paper one that you throw out.
  • Flowers – Cut flowers add a lovely look to the room and can be disposed of later
  • Use a large bowl- fill it with celebration appropriate items, like leaves, pinecones, pine branches, candy, fruit, and vegetables.

2. Let people help

Most times when you extend an invitation people will say what can I bring? Instead of saying nothing look at your list of things that need to be bought and give them something. Ask them to bring some of the food.  If you have someone who doesn’t like to cook ask them to arrive early and help greet people at the door. Here are some things that might be on your list for them to bring or help with:

  • drinks
  • appetizer
  • flowers for decorations
  • dessert
  • festive napkins
  • music or playlist
  • photos of past events
  • take coats
  • keep people out of the kitchen? lol

3. Plan a menu

Plan your menu well in advance of entertaining. This allows you to go shopping before the crush of the crowds. You can do some preparations in advance and freeze some of the dishes. You may cook squash, dessert or appetizers ahead of time. Make a change in the way you do things, have a potluck. Ask people to bring their favourite dish. If you are worried that you might have only desserts and no main course then assign a dish to each person. You might decide to have it catered in your home. You don’t have to do all the cooking. It might be time to move away from a full course sit-down meal and have snacks, finger foods and appetizers only. Consider the many options you have and pick one that makes things less stressful for you.

To make your next celebration even easier record:

  • the amount of food you cooked or ordered
  • the cooking time for each dish
  • reuse the menu, grocery list, and cooking  schedule next time
  • a list of things that went well
  • a list of things you would do differently.

4. Plan a walk outside

Visiting with family and friends doesn’t have to be only sitting around. Make time for a walk outside. Between the main course and dessert have your guests go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and build an appetite for dessert. While your guests are out, you will have time to clear the leftovers and put them in the refrigerator. Many times guests have driven a distance to see you and a little exercise will be welcome before the ride home especially if children are visiting. If you’re like my family a lot of exercise is enjoyed. We would have a ball hockey game between courses. If people prefer to stay inside try playing charades, pool or table tennis. There are always dishes to be washed for those who want to help.

Getting up and moving around:

  • helps people to mingle with more people
  • helps them to stretch and relax
  • leads to new types of discussions
  • puts a smile on most people’s faces
  • plan a game
  • do a puzzle
  • have a concert / song fest
Woman walking in a forest throwing colured leaves in the air.

5. Enjoy

Take time during the event to slow your pace. Enjoy the people, conversations, activities, and laughter. It is a celebration so remember to celebrate what you are thankful for any time of the year.

White sign with the words GIve Thanks.

What are your tips for making celebration planning easy?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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12 thoughts on “Organize a celebration full of thanks”

  1. As someone who has entertained a lot, I especially appreciate your list of things to remember. Letting people help is huge. People want to help. It makes them feel comfortable. And it has the double gift of being helpful to the host too. I’ve gotten much better over the years with accepting help. In the past, we’ve started Thanksgiving early so we’ve had time (and daylight) to take a family walk in between the meal and dessert. But this year it was too dark to do. We did experiment with lighting the fire pit, at my son-in-law’s suggestion. He built it too! As people arrived, it was a wonderful gathering place to welcome people, hang out, and feel the warmth from the fire and the good company.

    1. At times it seems like it is easier to do it all ourselves. Probably because we have control of everything. When you open yourself up to letting others help you lose control, have less work and get to learn new ideas.

  2. Love this! It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to make things perfect or like what we see on Pinterest. What matters though (and what is remembered) is being on the moment. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. I never thought about inviting my guests to take a walk outside, but that is a terrific idea. Especially if you luck out and have nice weather. We used to do this between the main meal on Thanksgiving and dessert, but I forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me!

  4. I love the walk idea! I haven’t been to many gatherings that included this, but unless the weather is terrible, it’s always good to get some fresh air and stretch the legs, especially after a big meal. I’ve also found myself walking with someone I might not have had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with otherwise, and that’s pretty awesome too.

    1. You make an excellent point that walks allow for one on one conversations. Sometimes sitting in a room and feeling like everyone is listening makes it hard to have a conversation.

  5. Oh my goodness, I love so much about this, but especially letting people help. Too often, people feel obligated to do everything themselves, as if the test of a good person is being a martyr to dining and entertainment. Letting other people help is a blessing to them; it makes them feel reliable and appreciated. And it’s a blessing to you, to not have to heap all the labor on yourself.

    I also love getting everyone outside for a walk. It reinvigorates the energy of the whole group, helps dissipate any interpersonal tensions, and it builds an appetite!

    1. A walk developed when I had little children and you needed to get them out of the way so clean up was easier. Then it progressed to everyone playing ball hockey to build an appetite for dessert. We wanted to appreciate the dessert other people had taken time and energy to prepare. Then we got old(er) and it became a walk. Letting people have more space outside does help to relieve interpersonal tensions.

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