How to Make This Thanksgiving the Best One Ever

The word "Danke!" written on a chalkboard decorated with orange and yellow leaves over a wood background

Teamwork makes Thanksgiving work. Embrace the festivities as family and friends time and plan ahead so everyone can pitch in. Simple ideas like exploring how to say “thanks” in different languages and a special Thanksgiving soundtrack can add lively new dimensions to your holiday celebration.

  1. Invite guests to arrive early – real early: Like, the day before. Ask a few guests or family members (especially those who live nearby) to spend an hour or two helping find the good dishes, iron linens, vacuum, dust, do flower arrangements or make pies. Many hands make light work. Get the party started early.
  2. Pick teams to help out: On the big day, invite guests to arrive a few hours before dinnertime. (Have a few extra snacks ready, as everyone will be hungry, thinking of the feast ahead.) Pass around a festive jar to pick teams for prep activities. Have several slips in the jar for each of the tasks, such as peeling potatoes, making a centerpiece, setting the table, making name cards (provide a list of guests), and doing dishes afterward. Later arrivals can be nominated for dishwashing duty!
  3. Learn to say “danke”: Keep the focus on the meaning of the holiday, but make it fun and expand your global horizons. Look up how to say “thank you” in various languages and incorporate the words into your décor. Add one on each place card, paint them on mini pumpkins, insert cards in floral arrangements, or write them on a tag and slip them into folded napkins or napkin rings. Guests can share them and learn how to pronounce them.
  4. One for all and all for one: The kids’ table is a time-honored tradition, but mix things up this year – combine the generations. Extend your table with plywood, a sawhorse and extra cloths, or use a long rental table in an area where you have extra room. Use place cards to alternate the little ones with grownups that can help them if needed. Set places for children with kid-friendly glasses and extra napkins and large placemats. All can be together for the main meal, then plan an activity for the kids while the grownups linger over pie and coffee.
  5. Play DJ with a Thanksgiving theme: The attitude is gratitude, as they say. Music gets people moving. Put together a playlist of songs that all have “Thank You” in the title. You’ll be surprised how many there are. Time to dance!