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Our Tips for Making the Most of Thanksgiving

Read the Grotto team's tips for having a stress-free Thanksgiving.

It’s Turkey Day! Or tofurkey, if that’s your jam. Who doesn’t love a holiday that celebrates gratitude and gathers family and friends? We wanted to help you get to know our own community by sharing the Grotto Network team’s Thanksgiving traditions and a few simple insights about making it through the day.

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving Day?

Emily: I come from a family of Detroit Lions fans so it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without watching the game!

Ben: Good food, spending time with family and friends, and a good nap with a full belly after dinner.

Becky: Preparing our signature Thanksgiving dishes — which have been passed down for generations — literally brings the whole family together. I wouldn’t trade cramming 25 people into a tiny house for anything in the world.

Javi: Drinking Martinelli’s Apple Cider from the fancy adult wine glass, even when I am an adult and can drink wine from the fancy adult wine glass. 

Jessie: I love a full dinner table. I come from a big family, so when all of my siblings can come home and be together — squished around the table and passing dishes, usually with everyone talking at once — my heart is full.

Liz: I not-so-secretly love hosting. The year we moved back to the Midwest, hosting fell to us when family couldn’t fly in — so now we invite family, friends, and neighbors into our home. We hosted Javi two years ago, where I witnessed his Martininelli’s tradition in person. 

Josh N.: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade playing in the background as food comes together sets a familiar and relaxing ambiance for the day. It has become a tradition for the whole family to drop what we’re doing to watch the Rockettes.

Mariah: I married into a very large family, so going from the relaxed, intimate setting of my parents’ Thanksgiving dinner to the hustle and bustle of my in-laws’ brings together the best of both worlds for my extroverted self. And this year, we have a little one to share it with!

Josh L.: The coziness of family and home. It’s a warm feeling for the soul to know that gratitude and thankfulness are the reasons we’re gathering together.

What is one tip you’d like to share for making the most of (or just surviving) Thanksgiving Day?

Emily: If you are a person with dietary restrictions (like me!) then I recommend bringing a substantial dish that you know you can eat and share. You don’t want to go hungry if others don’t understand your dietary needs, and bringing enough for everyone gives them a chance to try something new!

Ben: Don’t feel the need to have to go to every Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving you are invited to. Try to limit it a bit so you can really enjoy them and spend time with the people you love. But if you are a “challenge accepted” kind of person, then I’d say go for it!

Becky: Embrace the goofy traditions, the calorie-dense food, the awkward conversations, and the too-close-for-comfort space you’re in. Those Black Friday deals aren’t as important as the precious time you have with loved ones.

Javi: I’m often unable to go home for the holiday as I live across the country from family, and even with Friendsgiving you can feel like you’re missing out. So I like to keep the day as intentional and busy as I can — set aside time to FaceTime with family, volunteer with a local charity, start Christmas decorating!

Jessie: Whether you’re spending the holiday with family or friends, go around and say what you’re thankful for. My dad always makes us do this, and even though I often groan about it in the moment, looking back I’m grateful that he’s kept it part of our tradition.

Liz: Know your own limits during holidays — if you need space after hosting or being part of a big gathering, plan a solo activity, such as taking a walk with the dog, going for a run, or taking 10 minutes to yourself outside. 

Josh N.: Thanksgiving is a stressful day, no matter if you are hosting a traditional gathering with family or if you find yourself trying to get together with a few friends. It’s a day loaded with expectations, but it’s also a day for meaningful personal connections, so make a point of being an encouraging, uplifting presence. Take out the trash. Share an affirmation. Be ready with a poem or joke. Stay until everything is cleaned up. Teach your nephews a magic trick. Look for the little things you can do to enable others to enjoy each other’s presence. 

Mariah: Communication is key for my family gatherings — with all the in-laws and my own family living in the same town, divvying up the holiday can get hectic and confusing. The same goes for communicating with my husband — having a plan and being upfront about needs, concerns, and everything else, right down to who’s grabbing the diaper bag, makes the day go a lot smoother.

Josh L.: I can usually count on one of my brothers or brothers-in-law to bring a delicious, semi-secret 6-pack! It goes a long way.

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