The Thanksgiving season is rapidly approaching and with it, the hum of holiday preparations centered around loved ones, gratitude and, of course, lots of delicious food. But when reflecting on the past few months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a few negative thoughts may come to mind.

normal rockwell thanksgiving painting
Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell, 1943

It is easy to think about the many ways that this Thanksgiving will look a bit different than years past. But don’t put away that good china just yet…after all, what would Norman Rockwell do?

Just because gatherings may be smaller and travel limited, it doesn’t mean that you can’t reclaim the holidays as a time of celebration. Thanksgiving is much more than delicious turkey and stuffing and shiny chafing dishes – although, being full of great food usually helps.

If that sounds easier said than done, we’re here for you! Taking small steps can help ease the holiday stress and help you “take back Thanksgiving.” Check a few out below:

Plan Ahead

A simple game plan can save time and energy when it comes to the big day. Pick out those recipes and scrawl out your shopping list ahead of time. Purchase your frozen turkey and non-perishable items early. If there is a specific size of turkey or product you want, check with your local grocery store to see when it will be available. And don’t forget to account for time needed to safely thaw the turkey!

Set Expectations

Maybe more so than ever, safety is top of mind for those traveling and gathering for the holidays. It is important to know and follow guidelines for a safe, festive holiday gathering. Here are some questions to consider before hosting guests:

Will masks be required? Can guests bring…well…more guests?

Will we be dining indoors or al fresco? Do we have heaters or blankets for the patio?

If you are not hosting a gathering this year or have specific rules in place, start having conversations early to avoid any holiday misunderstandings.

Account for Leftovers

Thanksgiving is a time of plenty, and we’d be hard-pressed to think of a gathering where there weren’t leftovers. Jump for joy at repeat holiday meals OR come up with a creative way to put those extras to good use. We have a few ideas…

Relax and Enjoy

All the forward-thinking in the world can’t account for those inevitable holiday surprises. The main priority is protecting your health and safety. At the end of the day, the number one tip for taking back your Thanksgiving is to relax and enjoy the day, however and with whomever you choose to celebrate.

And if you’re still stuck, check out NTF’s Thanksgiving 101 to get started.