Time is flying and Thanksgiving is weeks away. You may be hosting in our home this year or you may be a guest elsewhere. No matter what your situation is, you can do a few things that will make Thanksgiving more joyful and hygge for you and your family. To some extent joy is a choice and is not based on circumstance. However, over scheduling, planning too much food preparation, and the chaos left in its wake can steal our joy. Keep it simple, where you can focus on enjoying family, rather than being cumbered about by much serving. So, take a little time, choose joy and hygge with loved ones!
What is Hygge? “The Danish word hygge (pronounce hue-gah) is taking pleasure in celebrating the ordinary; spending a cosy evening with family or friends, sipping cocoa, sitting by the fireplace, perhaps dinner by candlelight… Words such as warmth, living well, security, coziness, comfort, reassurance, family, fellowship, friendship, and simplicity are frequently used to describe the concept of Hygge.”
6 Ways to Joyfully Prepare for a Hygge Thanksgiving
1. Preliminary Considerations
Are you hosting or will you be a guest? If you are hosting will guests be contributing? If you are hosting and quests will be contributing, will you be making assignments or will it be potluck? Consider a simple menu of foods you can make ahead. Are there items your children or husband can help make?
If you are going to be a guest, what are you contributing? Even if the hostess is handling it all, it is a nice gesture to offer to bring something and to assist in the kitchen, even for clean up. Also, it is nice to gift the hostess with a flower arrangement or a beverage.
Once you can answer these questions you will have a better idea of how to plan. A plan is a Master Actualization Plan or MAP of what you want to do. A map shows where you are, your destination, and the possibilities. Like all maps, it is a plan. A plan is a guide and it is not a straight-jacket. Put the must haves in red, they are your priorities. Other things can be negotiable when life happens.
When you have your answers and make your plan, consider what can be made ahead, frozen and reheated. What can be in the slow cooker or cooked in a pressure cooker, freeing up the oven. Pies can be made the night before or can be bought frozen and baked while everyone eats dinner, or they can be bought fresh. Rolls can be made and rising while the turkey is finished being thawed and prepped to cook. You can also buy the rolls already cooked and just reheat them. Salads can be made the day before.Enter your text here...
What about timing? For things that must be cooked on Thanksgiving Day, consider the time they need to cook to be served hot and schedule backwards. When considering the cooking time for the turkey, add time for it to rest before carving when it comes out of the oven. Of course, the simpler the meal, the more focus you can hygge with guests.
2. Schedule with Care
Look at your current schedule. What are you must do's and want to do's? By all means do a few "want to" activities, but do not let them drive your life and your schedule, especially if you have young children. Make sure the schedule reflects your core priorities. Remember, the less you schedule the more hygge you can with family and friends.
3. Prepare Simply
To prepare is to make one’s self, ready, its essence is to do what you can in advance. What can you do in advance to prepare at a smooth pace? If you are doing the 90 Day Ditch the Stress Victory Challenge, do not drop your 30 minute power clean. It is a way to daily simplify and prepare to have a deep cleaned house when family and friends visit. This is far less stressful than having huge days of deep cleaning. Gently cleaning and preparing, leaves us to be more present and hygge with our loved ones and guests.
4. Focus on Your family and guests
Focus on family and guests. More and more places offer enticing activities. It is a good rule to avoid scheduling several back to back activities in one day. Choose one. Running from day to day can feel like a drag and can stress children and adults, as well.
Focus on creating simple family traditions that can re-center you each day. But keep them simple. It can be as simple as a Thankful Tree or each person mentioning something they are thankful for, before saying grace at the meal table.
Again, do less and hygge more with loved ones.
During activities and meal times, be present, unplug, do not let electronics intrude, enjoy the time together. When we hygge, we are present and not given to distraction, not wishing we are elsewhere, we are able to be in the moment.
Take time to debrief. To debrief is to discuss what worked, what didn't, what you want to continue as a must do, what you are ready to let go of, and think about what you want to do differently next year. The best time to do this is as close to Thanksgiving when the memory is fresh. This will help you not repeat mistakes in the future. Keeping things really simple, leaves everyone less harried, gives space to enjoy each other, and not over-planning gives space for hygge. This would be a good time to pencil in a light plan for next year! As you get used to doing less production and more focused on each other hygge will flow.
As we do these six simple things, I am confident that we can find joy in the journey through Thanksgiving and enjoy hygge during the season.
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This post was originally written 20 November 2017 and was updated 14 November 2019.