Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to Create a Positive Environment for Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Wall Decal
It's the Time of Year we Gather to Give Thanks

In a cynical and often condescending world, it's easier to descend into typical family battles that tend to swallow up the purpose of our assembly; to give thanks and to acknowledge and remember those who have been there for us through it all. It's cliche, but 'when push came to shove', who did we turn to, and who loved us unconditionally?

We live in divided times and many families who reunite for dinner rest at polar opposites in their beliefs, likes, dislikes, levels of tolerance and education. These differences are fast becoming the virus that devours up the most important reason we take the hand of the person next to us at that dinner table, love. Again, call it cliche, call it corny, call 'love' overly simplistic, but John Lennon got it right, 'all you need is love'.

So how do you survive a Thanksgiving Dinner with people who sit at the polar opposite of your own beliefs? Like any assembly, the best place to start is by setting ground rules. Here are 10 ways to create a positive environment for your Thanksgiving Dinner:
  1. Let everyone know (ahead of time if possible) that there will be no discussions about Politics, Religion, or Current News Affairs.
  2. As the host of a dinner, have the evening planned in advance: Plan to play games before dinner and after dinner. If it's a larger gathering, then perhaps have teams set up to play against each other for a grand championship.
  3. Do not turn on a TV set. If a sporting event is on that the entire family wants to watch, then go ahead and gather around the 'game' in front of the TV if need be. But don't allow any News shows, or channel flipping to take away the fun of the game.
  4. If someone in the family breaks the rule about conversation and starts into a diatribe of their opinions and beliefs about an issue, as the host, politely remind them about the rules and do not engage them in a discussion about whatever their point may be. Remember that no minds or opinions will change in one night anyway, so keep the evening and dinner on a strict track of fun.
  5. Have music playing in the background in as many rooms as possible. Best of all, if you know the favorite songs of the people attending, plan ahead  and have a CD compilation of everyone's fave song! When the song for that special someone in the house begins to play, turn it up, walk over to them, kiss them on the cheek and let them know, 'we did this for you'.
  6. If you're hosting a large gathering and certain people are best not sitting beside each other, use name/place tags on each plate to direct people where to sit. 
  7. Toast the Senior members of the family. Often times seniors feel excluded, unwanted, and unappreciated, and no matter how ornery they are or aren't, give them a few minutes of special thanks. You'll make their day.
  8. Go out of your way to be nice and  especially to be kind. Set the tone. Set the pace, and you may be surprised how everyone follows.
  9. Find reasons to smile and laugh. Laughter and smiles are much more infectious than anger and fear.
  10. Lastly, remember a famous quote, 'When given the choice to be right or to be kind, always choose Kind'.
Let the Music Do the Talking, Include 'Every Day' by Rascal Flatts In Your Song Selection:

The lyrics are simply beautiful and a perfect choice for that special someone who has stepped up in your life or the life of others. Acknowledge them, then turn up the volume and let them know how Thankful you are through song.

Have a joyous Thanksgiving.

To Your Happiness, 
Barbara Tremblay Cipak, Country Music Reviewer - Heart of Country


  1. Ah, wonderful suggestions for any event. Toasting the oldest at the family gathering has always been a special part of our holiday meals. But, ugh - it will soon be me!

    1. Susan, lol, I was thinking the same thing, 'it will be me too soon enough' ha!

    2. Susan ...within the past two years both my mother and mother-in-law have passed so now when we have family gatherings on both sides my husband and I are the Senior members....How did that happen??? LOL

  2. Fabulous list! I really like the advice about the music, but number 10 says it all. Thanks for the reminder. Have a Happy Thankgiving!

  3. Thanks Susan, hope you have a fun Thanksgiving too!

  4. I love Rascal Flatts. At gatherings, my HUGE family just turns on the "Game" and watches tv together. They may occasionally bicker about a quarterback or something, but nothing huge. The Mister's family just chatters away about projects, what needs fixed, did you see the newest tool or invention, and etc. It's a pleasant time. Wonderful post and excellent tips for the families who do struggle at gatherings.

    1. Dawn, sounds like a very healthy family dynamic, wonderful

  5. Excellent advice for having a wonderfully successful Thanksgiving shared with family members. Plus, you know how much I love Rascal Flatts. What a wonderful song! If we would all just remember love and kindness is so much more important than fighting for right.

    1. Cynthia, very true, in the end, it's how we loved that matters, nothing else

  6. These are wise and wonderful recommendations for any family gathering, and especially holiday gatherings of any kind. Focusing on what people enjoy in common and avoiding topics that divide them is a great recipe for making positive memories!


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