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12 Parenting Tips To Stress Less On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is nearly here. Even when declaring this, I know it can bring up a whirlwind of emotions as you think about all the tasks that need to be accomplished. As much as this holiday is about being thankful, it can also bring a bunch of to-dos, especially for us parents.

As we get ready for Thanksgiving, the anticipation of family gatherings can sometimes come with a side dish of stress. But hang tight, because I’ve gathered a dozen tips to help us all turn this Thanksgiving into a much smoother ride. These tips aren’t just about getting through the day. They’re designed to amplify your experience, ensuring you enjoy moments shared with your beautiful family.

Here’s 12 Parenting Tips To Stress Less On Thanksgiving:

  1. Plan Ahead, But Roll with It
    Start with a loose plan, and go with the unexpected. Embrace spontaneity. Give your kids a glimpse of planning but teach them the beauty of going with the flow. Show them how being flexible can turn unexpected moments into fun adventures.
  2. Embrace the “Doh!” Moments
    Things will always go wrong. And that’s okay. Let your kids see you laugh at mistakes and teach them that imperfections create the best memories. They’ll learn that it’s okay to not have everything perfect all the time.
  3. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
    This might be a cringe way to say it, but it’s true. You’re not a one-person show, and you shouldn’t be. Involve your kids in prepping for the feast. It’s a chance to teach them about teamwork and the satisfaction of contributing together as a family.
  4. Celebrate Effort, Not Just Results
    Acknowledge the hard work put in by everyone. Give high-fives for their contributions. Encourage your kids by appreciating their work, no matter how small. It teaches them the value of effort over just the end result.
  5. Keep It Easy-Breezy-Lemon-Squeezy
    Simplify, simplify, simplify! Who says the table needs to be Pinterest-perfect? Be all about enjoying the moments, not the perfection. Show your kids that Thanksgiving isn’t about the perfect table setting. It’s about enjoying the time together. Letting go of perfection teaches them to embrace moments over appearances.
  6. Accept Help with Open Arms
    When someone offers to pitch in, don’t play the hero. Say, “Yes, please!” It eases the load and makes everyone feel involved and included. Demonstrating that it’s okay to accept help teaches your children the importance of community and the joy of contributing to a collective effort.
  7. Pause to Pray
    Stepping away for a moment does wonders. Amidst the chaos, take a breather to count your blessings. Look around you and soak it in. Thank God by telling Him how grateful you are to Him. It’ll be like a mini-reset button for your stress levels. Modeling this teaches kids the importance of acknowledging Jesus amidst chaos to bring peace.
  8. Spice It Up with New Traditions
    Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Trying something new can keep the excitement high and the pressure low. Encourage your kids to suggest new activities or traditions. It instills a sense of ownership and excitement, making the day more enjoyable for everyone.
  9. Early Prep
    This can be a huge time-saving hack. Anything you can do in advance, do it. Do things like cut the veggies, set the table, put up the decorations, and prepare activities. Engage your kids in prepping early. It’s a lesson in time management and planning ahead for smoother, stress-free celebrations.
  10. Be in the Moment
    When the big day arrives, make a conscious effort to soak it all in. Those conversations and shared moments are what make Thanksgiving special. Involve your children in cherishing the moments of Thanksgiving. It’s an opportunity to teach them the value of being present and enjoying family time.
  11. Laugh it Off
    Laughter is a major stress antidote. Finding humor in the crazy and not taking yourself so seriously lightens the mood for everyone. Show your kids that laughter is a great stress-reliever. By laughing at accidents, you demonstrate resilience and the ability to find joy in the midst of chaos.
  12. Remember the Heart of Thanksgiving
    It’s all about being together and expressing gratitude to God for all He has forgiven us of and all He has given us. That’s the vibe we want to set, no matter what curveballs come our way. Explain to your children the essence of Thanksgiving beyond the feasting. And the significance of gratitude to God and being together as a family.

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8–9 (NIV)

Parents, I’m thankful to God for you! That you take the time to utilize our resources and share them with others. I’m praying you have a happy, stress-reduced Thanksgiving!


  • Chris Reed | Pastor to Parents | Saddleback Church

    Chris married his beautiful bride, Tina, in 1990. They have three wonderful adult children, Jacob, Kaylee, and Macie Joy. Chris began pastoring at a church in Los Angeles in 1995 where he was the Children’s and Student Pastor. He was the Executive Pastor of Student Ministries at John Maxwell's church in South Florida before he came to Saddleback in 2008 as our Pastor to 20s/30s. He has since served as Pastor to Singles and Pastor to Marriages. He is currently our Pastor to Parents leading the charge for all things Parents Ministry at Saddleback. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies and his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

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