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The Gym’s Top 4 Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

Holiday season has arrived! If you are preparing the Thanksgiving meal this week, you have already braved the grocery store crowds and meticulously planned your meal -- what to prep ahead, what to cook ahead, which dishes to ask others to make, how to squeeze in that Turkey Trot once the turkey is in the oven….all the details.

All the details?

We often overlook the most important part of the meal -- the people. Thanksgiving with the family can be hard, right?

Today we share with you The Communication Gym’s top 4 tips for making holidays at the dining room table a moment when you won’t need a Thanksgiving miracle!

First, have a plan.

Before anyone arrives, even before you put the turkey in the oven, you may need to determine some guidelines depending on your family’s dynamic. It could be no talking about politics, religion, or your son’s choice of college major. (No, he does not need to explain again what he will do with it in the future.) Set boundaries around the touchy subjects, put caution tape around them, and ask all guests to agree to stay away from them.

Then think about the seating arrangement. Would it be better to separate some family members and to group others? Having a younger family member create the place cards could become your next family tradition -- whether it is before the guests arrive or for the poor child who is bored while the adults socialize before the meal.

Second, keep everyone busy.

This is Event Planning 101 and Classroom Management 101. There is less chance of trouble when everyone is actively engaged. Your family may already have a tradition like Flag Football in the backyard or playing Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade bingo. If you don’t, and you think boredom may have contributed to some unpleasant situations in the past, consider introducing an activity. You may enjoy the alphabet game, a silly game my children brought home from elementary school. Just pick a topic such as animals, vegetables, countries. Then, the first begins by naming an item that fits in the category. The next person has to think of something that begins with the last letter of the word the previous person said. Whatever you choose, play games that don’t lead to trouble and that include everyone.

Third, focus on the meaning of the day.

Not the historical focus of the day, GRATITUDE.

What are you thankful for?

In some homes, family members take turns, each person sharing something they are thankful for as they begin their holiday meal. Others may create a collage throughout the day -- writing on a paper tablecloth or on paper feathers to then attach to the centerpiece (paper!) turkey. This could also be a good time to surprise everyone with fun facts about your family heritage. After a little research, you may find that a distant aunt is responsible for inventing something you can’t live without or a great grandparent changed the course of your family’s history.

And lastly, have a tech free Thanksgiving.

Confiscate phones or create a place for guests to park them out of sight, at least for part of the day. While we certainly use our phones for entertainment and to escape, we do need human connection. We hope that you value that as much as we do at The Communication Gym. Take some time before Thursday to think about what your family needs to have a memorable and successful Thanksgiving. We don’t want you to keep Adele on standby as your backup plan!

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