How To Fit In Three Thanksgiving Dinners

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When I was a kid, we had three of every holiday. Every year for Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Easter), we celebrated at my mother’s parents, my father’s parents and then at home. It’s always been important to my mother that she create her own traditions and we celebrate with our immediate family. On the other hand, my extended relatives are very close and we would never miss a special occasion with both sets of grandparents. The solution was just to celebrate everything three times. As a kid, I had three Easter Egg hunts, three Christmas trees surrounded by presents and that’s right, three Thanksgiving dinners.

The logistics were a nightmare that I never fully appreciated until I had my own family to coordinate. Now, I still have three holiday engagements on my side of the family, plus my husband’s family and my daughter’s father to accommodate. It’s a whole lot of holiday, though thankfully, we spread these special days out into surrounding weekends. But in the coming week and a half, my husband, daughter and I still have a whole lot of turkey to eat in a relatively short period of time. Thankfully, I’m an experienced holiday meal balancer.

Juggling multiple family dinners is no easy task. It takes restraint and long-term planning. Seriously, step away from the deviled eggs, you’ve already had four. The goal is to make it through the end of the day still capable of walking to the car and putting on a seat belt. If you haven’t even unbuttoned your jeans, you’re a champion.

That’s brings us to one of the first rules: Dress for comfort. I realize that the new sweater-dress you bought is festive and adorable, but your curves don’t need any extra cling when you’re about to plow through this much food. Try to wear something a little more relaxed. A big, chunky sweater and leggings will still be perfect for fall and it will cover an emerging pouch. There’s a reason you don’t see competitive eaters in cocktail dresses.

Second rule: Equal distribution is key. If you barely touch the food at House No. 1 because you’re saving room for the next engagements, your first host will be upset. If you’re stuffed before you even reach the third house, prepare yourself for an uncomfortable evening. But just in case that sweet potato casserole destroys your resolve, try to move around after your meal, instead of plopping on the couch. Don’t forget to drink some water, which will help your body move through the all that food.

Try a little bit of everything. Instead of piling on your favorite food at each house, try to be egalitarian and give everything a shot. all of those dishes took time and energy, so I’m sure that your host will appreciate it if you sample a little of everything. My mother throws in one or two new recipes every year. If I stuck to my favorites and never tried anything new, I would have missed the most amazing butternut squash I ever had in my life last year. By the way Mom, that better still be on the menu!

Plan for the long haul. With our growing family, Thanksgiving has become a marathon of eating. That means that we try to keep meals light and healthy at home, to make up for all that richness at the big get togethers. Also, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a few extra evening walks or a little more time at the park. Our daughter is going to have a whole lot of energy to burn off and mom is going to need a little movement as well.