Stress Free Holidays Part 5
Thanksgiving Planning This Week

Thanksgiving planning time is now upon us in week 5 of this series. Follow these steps for a stress free Thanksgiving with your family.

Week #5 of the Stress Free Holidays Challenge is all about cleaning up from Halloween, plus Thanksgiving planning and a little more Christmas preparation, plus it includes free printables and organizing tips {on Household Management 101}
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Special Note For 2023

How was your Halloween, or really, your Halloween prep, since this Challenge this year falls a few days before Halloween? Hopefully the preparation has been lots of fun, minus the stress, with your planning ahead of time, and now you're ready to enjoy the big day on Tuesday.

My family has had a good time this year, so far, and we hope the actual day will be fun too. We're planning to do some Halloween trivia (we're a fan of trivia in this house), as well as watch some scarier movies, since the kids are now a bit older. Last weekend we painted pumpkins, made some hot apple cider and made some fall cookies.

Since Tuesday is Halloween, make sure that the part of the challenge below where I suggest you clean up Halloween gets put off at least until Wednesday, November 1st, obviously!

And then, once Halloween is over, it will be time to start to focus on Thanksgiving, which is something we'll do this week of the Challenge.

We will also still be working on our preparations for Christmas as we go along.

As always, if something I'm suggesting you do this week in the challenge doesn't make sense for your family, or you don't want to or enjoy doing one of these things, then don't do it, or change it to work for you, or be creative and do something else that will work!

There's no one right way to celebrate, so enjoy it, however works best for your family this year!

Halloween Task For This Week: Clean It Up!

halloween decorations
Photo by Free Flower

Once each holiday is over comes the task of putting up all the decorations and putting away all the stuff that went with that holiday. Halloween is no exception.

In a previous week of this series I asked you to get out all your decorations for Halloween slowly, over the whole week. Now I'm asking you to do the reverse -- put up your decorations slowly, over the course of the week.

While you're at it, try to save yourself headaches and hassles next Halloween season by throwing or giving away any decorations you know you won't use again, and putting everything else away in an organized fashion.

Ideally, you'll have one or two storage tubs or boxes to place all your Halloween related stuff in to make it easy for yourself next year. You should put not only your decorations in this storage container, but also your pumpkin carving kit, pumpkin patterns, and anything else you need to use only at Halloween to keep it all in one place.

Here are ideas for Halloween storage containers.

Halloween plastic storage bins

Once you've put away your Halloween decorations there is one more thing you need to get out of your house related to Halloween -- excess candy.

ideas for what to do with leftover Halloween candy

If you have candy left from Halloween, after a few days it's time to get the excess out of your house. Your kids (and you) don't need to be eating it daily for too much longer. (This is a reminder I need myself, because I am bad for sneaking a piece, or two, or three, of their candy!)

Here's ideas for getting rid of leftover Halloween candy including using the Halloween Candy Buy Back program, and other alternatives.

Also, remember that now, after Halloween, is a great time to buy Halloween decorations at a discount. If you know you want something for next year try to get it now, while it is marked down, and place it with your other items to use next year.

Something else my husband and I sometimes used to do, when the kids were younger, was buy some deeply discounted Halloween costumes. My kids loved to play dress up, and these were great as Christmas and birthday gifts in our house. If you'd like to do that, now is the time!

Thanksgiving Planning For The Week: Meal Planning And Making Your Thanksgiving Grocery List

Thanksgiving table
Photo by ilovebutter

Like I said before, this week is real beginning of your Thanksgiving planning, although I gave you a couple of resources to get you started last week.

This can be a big meal to plan for, so along with the steps below (which include several printables to help you with various steps) upon request I wrote an entire Thanksgiving countdown checklist which lists all the steps we're going to take over the next several weeks all in one document, by week.

I've even created a printable version of the countdown document that you can print out and put in your holiday planner, so get your copy now!

Printable Thanksgiving countdown checklist

Plus, at popular request, I rounded up all my Thanksgiving related printables and made a page for them, to help you find them more easily. Come on over and print them all out for your Thanksgiving planner here.

Printable Thanksgiving planner

This week I want you to think about the main meal for Thanksgiving, whether you are bringing something to someone else's house, or making and serving everything at your own.

Obviously, if you cook it all yourself there is more work involved than if you are just bringing a dish somewhere else, so your Thanksgiving planning time may vary from others.

Create your Thanksgiving grocery list and write out your Thanksgiving dinner menu. Check any recipes you haven't used in a while to make sure you aren't forgetting one of the ingredients, and make sure you have it, or that it goes on the grocery list.

free printable Thanksgiving grocery list
free printable Thanksgiving dinner menu planner

To cushion your budget try to buy some of the nonperishable items each week from your Thanksgiving grocery list for the next couple of weeks. Remember too that if you will make a similar item for Christmas, you can buy double, especially if you see a sale occurring.

As you create your family's Thanksgiving menu also plan what items can be made a couple days in advance, and what needs to be made the day of. Be realistic about whether you can actually make all these things within the time frame you have, so you don't bite off more than you can chew. That would definitely stress you out!

Remember, you can also, as a part of your Thanksgiving planning, delegate certain food items to others in your family or friends who will be coming over, to take some of the load off yourself.

Do You Need More Help With Your Thanksgiving Dinner Menu And Meal Planning?

easy Thanksgiving dinner ideas ebook

The first time my husband and I were in charge of the whole family's Thanksgiving meal we stressed out, and even seasoned pros can start to sweat thinking about this important holiday meal.

If that sounds like you I recommend my friend Crystal's 33 page ebook written just to help you out with this exact task. It includes a step-by-step planning guide, make ahead recipes, a menu plus recipes for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with dessert, and a grocery shopping list already put together for you!

I think the best way to have a stress free Thanksgiving is to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and instead learn from the pros. Well, Crystal is my recipe resource, and I reference her Make Dinner Easy website lots and you can use her as your Thanksgiving planning resource too. [Click here to buy her book now.]

Resources on this site:

Christmas Tasks For The Week: Write Your Family's Christmas Letter And Plan Your Christmas Baking Schedule

I know Thanksgiving planning time is upon us, but we can't forget about Christmas, which is now just eight weeks away!

This week there are actually two Christmas tasks to do, write your family's Christmas letter and also to make your baking schedule for Christmas.

Write Your Family Christmas Letter

We have been leading up to both of these tasks in the previous weeks of the series. First, write your annual Christmas letter to enclose in your Christmas cards you will send to family and friends.

I know with social media sites like Facebook, and our own personal blogs, there are more ways to keep everyone we love up to date with what is happenening in our families, but these letters are, in my opinion, still a great idea.

writing Christmas letters to friends and family: ideas and tips

First, they can be a keepsake for your own family to read again through the years. In addition, there are lots of people who don't do all this new technology, or who in the hustle and bustle of life missed your updates. A nice succinct letter will be well appreciated by those that love you.

After you write the letter take time in the next week or two to make enough copies to add to each Christmas card you plan on sending, and place the stack in a place you won't lose them. You'll be stuffing and addressing the cards in a few weeks.

If you haven't ordered your Christmas cards yet (or taken your family Christmas photos), go ahead and get that done as soon as possible, before you have to pay rush charges!

I know I keep saying that, and I'll remind you again next week, but really, the longer you have to address these the easier it is, so ordering early is key!

Here's a resources to help you:

  • Writing Christmas Letters To Family & Friends: Ideas & Tips - If you'd like to write Christmas letters to friends and family this year, but are getting overwhelmed, here's ideas and tips to make the process painless and fun.
  • Family Christmas Photo Ideas & Tips - This article shares my best tips for all the aspects of taking your family Christmas photos, including clothing, timing, location and poses, plus my recommendations for where to get your own Christmas photo cards.

Plan Your Holiday Baking Schedule

Christmas tree cookies
Photo by dano

If you've been following this series you have already decided who will be receiving your holiday goodies, and basically what they'll receive. Now is the time to make sure you can pull it off and get all that baking done.

Don't forget that there are many recipes where you can bake ahead of time and freeze them, so you can spread the baking season out longer so it is fun, and not stressful for you.

In the lull that happens after Halloween but before Thanksgiving is a great time to do some of that freeze ahead baking, so you don't have to do so much later once Christmas season is in full gear.

Tell Me In The Comments Below How You're Doing On This Week's Challenge! Plus Sneak Peek For Next Week

Stress Free Holidays Week 6

If you're participating in this challenge tell me how it's going for you below, so we can all celebrate our baby step successes together! After all, we should be cheering each other on in our quest for reducing holiday stress.

In addition, I thought some of you might want to know briefly what we'll be working on next week, so I'll tell you:

  • Thanksgiving decorations and planning table settings
  • Order Christmas cards if you haven't already

Previous Parts Of The Stress Free Holiday Series

If you missed the previous parts of this series, you can still jump in. There is always time to start.

Here is the previous challenges:

Week #5 of the Stress Free Holidays Challenge is all about cleaning up from Halloween, plus Thanksgiving planning and a little more Christmas preparation, plus it includes free printables and organizing tips {on Household Management 101} #StressFreeHolidays #ThanksgivingPlanning #ChristmasPlanning
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