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Keeping Thanksgiving Friendly: A Few Do’s and Don’ts For a More Harmonious Holiday

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

Let’s talk about keeping Thanksgiving friendly with a few do’s and don’ts for a more harmonious holiday. Most of us have great expectations with regard to family gatherings and we long for the perfect holiday with joyful family members gathering around a table of food for good conversation and feasting. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Here are a few ideas on making our dreams of holiday harmony a reality:

Keeping Thanksgiving Friendly Dos

DO plan ahead and do as much preparation as possible so last-minute issues don’t create problems, stress, and tension that shouldn’t exist. Last year at Thanksgiving my turkey wasn’t getting done and dinner was getting delayed way too long. At a birthday gathering, the cake was not cooking and the event was delayed, too. I had a new oven and had never checked the accuracy of the temperature. After two celebratory gatherings gone awry, I bought an oven thermometer and tested my oven. It was 25 degrees off! In the future, I’ll check new appliances before big meal prep!

DO anticipate what might cause strife among family members and take steps to prevent clashes. This may mean talking to various people and asking them to refrain from topics of conversation. While this might be uncomfortable, it’s much better than dealing with issues that might arise in the midst of a celebration. 

DO consider an “off-topic” basket. Let family members and guests anonymously put a note into the basket with a topic they’d rather avoid at the holiday table, choose 2-3 from the stack and announce to everyone that for this gathering, we will not discuss _____. Whether it’s politics or young Sara not having a husband yet, we’ve all seen the movies where family gatherings erupt because of unnecessary chatter. Make a game of setting boundaries so everyone can enjoy themselves.

Harmonious Holiday Don’ts

DON’T force the issue of gathering. We are all wired differently. Some enjoy gathering for big family shindigs, others don’t. Try to go with the flow. If someone truly doesn’t want to participate, don’t guilt them into it. Be polite and keep asking but don’t force the issue.

DON’T forget the core reason for the celebration. Since we’re talking about Thanksgiving and gratitude this month, don’t forget to work around to it in the conversation. Asking people about the purpose, especially grandchildren, can be delightful. We love hearing the answers to simple questions like, “What are you thankful for?” As the Grands grow, their changing answers and growing maturity reflect the kind of person they are becoming.

DON’T give up! Even if you’ve experienced holiday disasters in the past, don’t be discouraged and give up having them. We hope and pray that love forgives and forgets. You never know when others are looking for a fresh start or healing interaction among family members. Provide opportunities for restoration, joy, and peace among those you love. Lead the way with courage and keep family gatherings happening and harmonious.

Let us know what tips helped you with keeping Thanksgiving friendly this year in the comments below!

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