So often during holidays we get so caught up in the stress of gifts, perfect centerpieces, cooking, and guest lists, that we forget what these holidays are actually about and how to enjoy them. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for all we have and spending quality time with those we love.

There are so many reasons to dedicate you and your family’s Thanksgiving towards simplicity, now more than ever. Let’s think about the countless refugees and people globally who are without shelter, food, family. And about our planet’s environment, who can’t take an overload of plastic plates, cups, etc in order to be maintained healthily for our children.

There are so many important messages to share with family and friends during Thanksgiving: love, gratitude, honoring the past, being responsible for our future. But waste and overindulgence should not be part of this special time.

We challenge you, for the sake of your own sanity, and to add a little extra good to the world, to have a simple Thanksgiving. And we’ve got 5 easy ideas for a stress free Thanksgiving:

1. Let Go of the Ego

Most important, take a deep breath and repeat after me: I don’t have to be the best chef, best host, best Pinterest crafter on the planet. More important is to be the best, most loving, most present family member, and anything that gets in the way of this… get rid of!

2. Helping Chart

Never be afraid to ask for help. In fact, it’s a great lesson to teach kids how to communicate when wanting assistance and that there’s nothing wrong with needing a little extra help. Giving everyone their own jobs makes everyone feel more involved and is a great opportunity for family and friend bonding. Make it into a fun game by creating a Thanksgiving countdown chart where kids and family members can check off, put a stick beside, etc their completed tasks.

3. Potluck Party

A potluck is a meal in which all the attendees bring one or two dishes with them. If you’ve never had a potluck, we highly suggest them; they’re fun, you wind up with an incredible diversity and variety of food, and the pressure isn’t on one person to feed everyone! Why not host a Thanksgiving potluck where all your friends and family can show off their favorite recipes? You can even up the ante by awarding edible prizes for best dishes, most creative dish, etc.

4. Games, Games, and more CLEAN Games

Of course there will be plenty of moments where parents need time alone in the kitchen  (perhaps even a nap?) so it’s good to have the maximum variety of games available to keep kids playing independently. The trick is to keep the game selection limited to things that will not create a big mess (maybe not the time to bring out the sensory bins and slime). That means bring down board games, cards, and utilize those learning apps (we have a few FREE suggestions here!)

5. Volunteer

How about spending a Thanksgiving meal serving others by serving food at your local food kitchen? I guarantee this will be a heart warming, totally remarkable experience for you and your family. This time of year soup kitchens especially need food donations and during holidays always need an extra hand serving. You and your family could spend your Thanksgiving being grateful for all you have, meeting new people, and giving back without having to be stressed about creating a grand meal and production. What could be better? Here’s a website directory of all the soup kitchens, food pantries, and food banks in the USA.

6. Simple Foods

So Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without your grandma’s slow roasted pecan pie. But maybe you could stick to more simple dishes for the rest of the meal? We propose a limited menu, choosing 1 (yes, only 1!) complicated dish and serving the rest of the food with simple, easy to prepare ingredients. In addition, most of the time the simplest recipes also tend to be the healthier recipes. You don’t have to spend every Thanksgiving rolling around in pain from being so stuffed.

We’re happy to share our totally unprocessed, surprisingly elegant, but startlingly simple, Thanksgiving menu with you:

Kale Salad

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Risotto

Quinoa and Lentil Salad

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie


And there you have it folks. 6 Easy ideas for a stress free Thanksgiving  that make a big difference in you and your family’s holiday.

Got something to add? Want to share pictures of your simple Thanksgiving? Please do!