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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, along with Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, and let’s not forget my birthday. As you can see, I’m all for any reason to get all gussied up, connect with friends and family over delicious food and divine wine and celebrate life. But, there is something magical about our American tradition of gathering for a day to give gratitude with the air starting to chill and the scent of apple spice in the air.
Unfortunately, far too many women approach the holidays the way they go about their lives – hurried, pressured and overwhelmed. I know, because I used to be one of them.
I want this to be a holiday of elegance, style and joie de vivre, so here are some ideas to inspire you to French Kiss Thanksgiving.
- Visit your local wine store and buy a bottle (or two) of Beaujolais Noveau. This charming and young wine is released once a year on the third Thursday every November and graces the tables of many Thanksgiving meals. Made from Gamay grapes from the Beaujolais region of France, don’t be surprised by the notes of banana, fig and pear. And, while it’s not a Bordeaux Grand Cru, it’s a fun vino tradition to add to this special day.
- Plan in advance. There’s no better way to create overwhelm than lack of planning and reacting to this decision. If you want to create a new experience, you must plan for it.
- Create a “gratitudes for the year” list. It’s called Thanksgiving for a reason. And, what better time to celebrate and appreciate all that this year has brought you. Think about the new friends, opportunities, and experiences. Turn the challenges into lessons learned. How did you grow as a person? We’re often so busy running to the next thing that we fail to really honor our lives. But, that won’t be you! You will beam with gratitude at the dinner table.
- Decide how you want to feel before your feet hit the ground. Most women wake up thinking about all that needs to be done – turkey in the oven, stuffing prepared, table set, wine chilled, pecan pies made. Before the day starts, they have often catapulted into overwhelm with their to-do lists. What I do is decide how I’m going to feel before I do anything. It’s the most important decision I make daily, but holidays are a great time to practice. If I’ve already decided that I’m going to feel joyful, I’m not as likely to react to burning the casserole or a snarky comment by Uncle Joe. To me, this is the greatest form of luxury: knowing that no one can take away my sunshine. Only I can do that.
- Luxuriate in a graceful bubble bath. Once the turkey goes in the oven, I challenge you to go run a bath and give yourself the gift of your own time and care. You give it to everyone else, right? It’s your turn. Plus, you’ll be so much calmer and prepped for the day’s events.
- Choose an outfit that displays your appreciation for being a woman. Just because you may be in the kitchen doesn’t mean that you can’t look and feel fabulous.
- Create a beautiful table. Remember, simplicity is elegance.
- Don a sexy apron. Who says that basting a turkey can’t be sexy?
- Create a signature Thanksgiving cocktail. This year, I’m going to make what I call The French Kiss Poire made with Prosecco, pear liqueur and garnished with a slice of pear and rosemary from my garden. After dinner, as the sun begins to set, I’ll be serving up hot cider with a splash of brandy with a cinnamon stick.
- Add a bit of romanticism by reading your favorite poem at the table. Sure, your family may thing you’re nuts, but you’re not the average woman.
- Make a wish. Don’t get rid of the turkey until you’ve battled for the wishbone. The one who gets the larger piece makes a wish, but she never tells.
- Turn off the phones. Thanksgiving dinner is for connecting and celebrating life with family and friends, not checking status updates.
- Go play. After indulging in the day’s feast, why don’t you: take a stroll through Autumn leaves (or snow, in my case) or get frisky with some tag football. I’m hosting a family ping-pong tournament. (FYI: My bet’s on the table for my daughter.)
- Drop the shoulds and create something new. Just because you’ve had pecan pie for decades doesn’t mean that you can’t serve something completely different. C’mon…what would you really love to do and eat for Thanksgiving? You can go out for lunch and not cook a thing. You can refuse to go to your in-laws. You can have steak instead of Turkey. You get to create whatever you desire.
- Create a Thanksgiving playlist. Mine consists of great French tunes with a little Sinatra mixed in. Glenn has added some electronic and Sarah has her hip-hop favs. Needless to say, our playlists is eccentric, but so are we. What will be on your playlist?
- Encourage your family and friends to share their gratitude. In fact, make it irresistible by incorporating a writing prompt at each place setting. I create a beautifully designed page by each plate that says, “I am thankful for” where we can write down our gratitudes and share with each other. Plus, it adds a little sparkle to the table.
- Go around the table and tell each person why you are thankful for them. It’s so much better than shouting out a “good-bye and thanks for the turkey” on your way out the door.
- Savor your meal. Make your Thanksgiving meal an opulent event, not a race to the TV. Challenge yourself and family to savor the experience for two or more hours. Slow down your eating and dine. Put your fork down between bites and have a meaningful conversation
- Send home a Gratitude Bag. Give each guest a little brown bag filled with leftovers. You can even add a little surprise note for them to continue the festivities the next day.
- You don’t have to “do it all.” Where in the world did we, women, get the idea that we must do it all? You don’t have to cook everything, set the table, do the dishes, and make sure the house is perfect before bedtime. I have no shame in ordering pies from my favorite local bakery, asking others to bring a dish, refusing to do the dishes (since I did most of the cooking) or asking the kids to set the table. It takes a village to keep our sanity, so stop acting like you’re on an island all by yourself.
- Ditch the Diet. Sadly, many women will sit down at the table with anxiety and fear of the meal itself. I was one of them for too many years, white-knuckling my way through the day trying to avoid the temptation of my Aunt Dot’s special apple pie. Then, I’d go home and binge on some stale donuts. About 8 years ago, I promised to never diet on Thanksgiving Day again. Never. And, I don’t cook “light’ versions of anything. I’m sorry but mashed cauliflower does not compare to real mashed potatoes. I’m not suggesting you stuff yourself more than the turkey. What I am encouraging is that you relax, enjoy and listen to your body (not your head). When I finally allowed myself to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, I lost the desire to overeat. And, remember: it’s just one meal. Don’t overthink it.
- Skip the Black Friday madness and sleep in. There’s nothing luxurious or elegant about standing in line for hours to fight the crowds for a TV. We have lost ourselves in mass consumerism, trying to buy our happiness when it’s right at home where you are.
Care to add to the list?
Let us know how you plan to French Kiss your Thanksgiving.
By the way, I’m so thankful for you!
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