Celebrate Thanksgiving With A Family Potluck

With just seven days until Thanksgiving, most of us probably have our holiday plans in place. If you are still looking for ideas, I highly recommend a potluck style Thanksgiving dinner for you and your loved ones!

Thanksgiving day is all about the gathering together of family and friends, sharing our blessings with one another. Whether we celebrate with family or friends one of the beautiful parts of this holiday is communing with others, generally around a table laden with food. The potluck approach allows for more than sharing, it allows everyone, especially the host to spend more time with those they love. It shouldn’t be a day filled with stress as one person tries to create the perfect event. The beauty of a potluck style dinner is it’s ideal for all sized gatherings.

Believe me, I understand wanting total control over a meal that I am hosting, but over the years our family left the one-person-does-it-all approach behind and we’ve made some amazing memories in my parents kitchen as own when we hosted. From husbands playfully arguing over who was going to lick the beaters and taste testing all the desserts hidden under foil, kids hovering over the desserts to sharing tips and tricks with one another and repeating family tall tales, every Thanksgiving has left a lasting impression in my heart.

Here are a few ideas to help you pull off this communal Thanksgiving dinner, even in as few as seven days!

First, as the host, take it upon yourself to cover the basics. It’s so much easier since you know the logistics of serving, eating and clean up. Choose your dinnerware; china, crystal, paper, or Solo cups; as the host you know best what is needed. If you want to set a table (even if using disposable wares), do so a day or two ahead of time just because it’s easy to knock out. A palette of white ceramics and autumn colored linens create a simple foundation and perfect backdrop for pumpkins, candles, mums or garlands. Lay your tablecloth, place a centerpiece and let it come together.

Second, set up the actual potluck. Let your guest know what you are preparing in advance. Generally a host will provide the main dish, but if your sister’s turkey is better than yours, or your Momma makes a mean ham, by all means ask if they would like to bring those things! Once the basic menu is laid out, everyone can let you know what they are contributing.

*Elevate your celebration: If you have time, request your guests share the recipes they are preparing for dinner in advance. Print off recipe cards decorated for the season,. Separate the recipes into mini booklets and tie together with ribbon for everyone to keep. Who knows, this could become a treasured keepsake as the years pass.

Third, If you want to provide serving pieces for all the food for the sake of aesthetics (I’m obsessed with aesthetics), let your guest know in advance that they can plate at your house. If they brings items in easy to transport containers they have something to carry leftovers home in as well. You can also share with your guests in advance what your color scheme is so they can compliment it using their own serveware. As the host, you can keep things as simple or as elaborate as you desire!

*Elevate your celebration: Grab a box of assorted sized Glad-Ware from Walmart or Target for everyone to make plates to carry home.

Fourth, set up stations for appetizers, main dishes, and desserts in separate areas if room allows and have it so everything is buffet style. Family can serve themselves, then gather together around the table for socializing and dining without having to spend 20-minutes passing food around.

Finally, sit down and pray, enjoy your meal, laugh, and genuinely enjoy every moment together.

Americans unfortunately have bad reputation for dining in a hurry and moving on. For some reason we think all aspects of life have to go at warp speed. This year I challenge you to savor every moment as you laugh, talk, and share in this precious day together. Don’t bring your phones to the table, leave the football game off, and truly appreciate not only the meal, but the company you are gathered with. If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything it should be to savor every, single moment and treasure all the time we have with family and friends!

Happy Planning!

5 Tips To Help With Your Move

In the twenty-six years since we married, Audley and I have moved fifteen times. Job transfers, outgrowing arrangements, local and far away; we done it all. Most recently we moved last summer, during the height of the pandemic, 90 miles across the city as long hours plus the ridiculous drive was wearing Audley out.

I would like to think we’ll never move again, but with the industry Audley works in as well as our kiddos scattered in other states, it is very likely we’ll move again sometime in the future.

If you’ve ever moved you know exactly how stressful and exhausting the entire process is. We’ve made each move a little differently, but one thing for sure is I’m getting pretty good at making sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.

Moving is intimidating, but there are ways to minimize the stress with these few tips that have worked well for us over the years.

1. Organize. Get a 5×7 notebook with divider tabs and pockets; make it your guide for your move. In this notebook you want to have your first page saved for your dates of new job starting, when you need to list your house, and when you need to move, along with any other date that is involved with this move. Make notes regarding home tours, deposits, school info, phone numbers of realtors, disconnecting utilities, transferring cable and internet. Write down a plan for packing and mark off each task once completed. In the folder keep a copy of your kids transcripts for transferring schools. Make sure you have copies of their immunization records, and sports physicals if needed. If you are leaving the state this will make it easier for the doctor’s office to transfer to whatever form the new state requires. There is nothing worse than misplacing those items while moving. Having a set location in a book you should have at your fingertips at all times, works great!

2. Clear the clutter. DO NOT, and I emphasize again, DO NOT take clutter and chaos with you. As you walk your house and look at what needs to be packed, start a list of what needs to go. This is the perfect time to clean out closets, toyboxes, desks, filing cabinet, and the garage. If your hanging on to jeans hoping they’ll fit again, but you haven’t even started eating healthy or exercising, let the jeans go. If you’ve not worn a shirt or dress in over a year, let it go. If you have collected free shirts from every race, gym, or school event, weed them out and let some go. If you’re hanging onto warranty papers for products you don’t even own anymore or tax records from 2005 … let them go.

When we moved from South Carolina back to Georgia four years ago I found boxes that had not been unpacked the entire six years we were in Carolina. I opened them, surveyed the contents and most all of the boxes were things that could be donated or even trashed. I know we treasure our kids artwork, school papers and the like, but guess what? When they are adults they don’t want it. In fact they don’t care. How many times do you look at that first story that was written in 1st grade or that Christmas picture from 3rd grade? I’m as sentimental as you get, but there is a time that you’ve got to decide whether sentiment is worth the space, mess or boxes.

3. Purchase your boxes and packing supplies. I know it’s an unwanted expense, but with the way grocery stores open and break down boxes, getting quality ones is actually quite difficult. When you purchase your boxes you can find them in uniform sizes made specific for what you are packing; ie. book boxes, dish kits, hanging clothes, etc.. Bubble wrap and dish protectors are absolutely worth investing in. No one wants to open up the glasses that were wrapped in newspaper to find half of them are broken. Also, no one want to carry a box you’ve packed with 150 pounds of books.

4. Have a method for packing. Knock out the less used, decorative items and non-essential items first. This includes books, picture frames, ginger jars, toys, extra bedding and holiday dishes. Make sure other holiday decorations are well packed for traveling. How disappointing would it be to get out you decor and discover your blown glass ornaments are shattered. As you get closer to moving day, go ahead and empty the closets of shoes and clothes that you really do not need. You do not want to still be packing when a moving van arrives. The family can live minimally for a few weeks. This is also the time to not buy groceries and a great time to cook creatively using ingredients from the freezer and pantry that you’ve accumulated.

Label every box. Write what is in the box and what room it belongs in. This makes the unloading and sorting process so much easier.

Have a method for unpacking as well. Go backwards and unpack the necessities first and end with the decorative and fun stuff that helps make a house a home. If you open a box … empty and put away the entire box. You do not want half-emptied boxes all through your house.

Pro Tip: if you can budget it, hire packers. Many moving companies have this service and honestly I have never had a single regret when we’ve used packers. They are fast, efficient and professional. There is no running to the store for extra tape, boxes or materials. They are prepared and ready to work.

5. Hire a reputable moving company to do the heavy stuff. Let’s face it, moving is exhausting, and more so now than our first move back when we first married. I stay sore a whole lot longer. Moving is hard. Moving furniture is hard. Choose your hard. Me? I’ll let some young, strapping guys load and unload the heavy stuff any day of the week.

Moving Solutions, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee is great option when you are planning your next big move. They offer a variety of services to help you including relocating long distance in the Nashville and surrounding area, and offer both commercial along with local moving.

This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and tips are my own based on all the crazy experiences we have had over the years.