by Courtney Sullivan
Families look forward all year to sharing a Thanksgiving feast. Often that means a table groaning with a variety of delicacies -- something to tempt everyone's palate. For the hostess, pulling this meal off requires days of menu planning, shopping, preparation, and an exhaustive list of "things to do."
If you're pregnant, hosting a family dinner can present even more challenges. Wafting fragrances might spur waves of nausea. Long periods on your feet can produce swelling, aches, and pains. The heated kitchen proves unbearable at times. The stress of welcoming hoards of visitors (even those you claim to love!) into your home while pregnant, might let loose a stream of hormonal waves that frightens even the dog!
Delve into our tips for combating these and other potential pitfalls and pull off the (nearly) perfect family gathering while expecting!
You'll want one for guests. Send out invitations or call family and friends. Confirm who is coming and who is not. When planning your guest list, keep in mind the stage of pregnancy you're at and keep it reasonable. You can always have other friends over for an intimate dinner another time. Include some folks on your list that will be willing to step up and help if you need them to.
Early shopping: Eliminate a last minute (or several last minute) shopping trips with a carefully planned non-perishable grocery list.
Day before shopping list: Swing by the store for fresh fruits and vegetables. Consider adding festive holiday paper plates to simplify cleanup.
Things to do: From household chores to trying on a stunning new outfit, map out just what you need to accomplish and when.
Plan out the big day on a timeline. To pull this off with the least amount of stress, you'll find that having a "game plan" to follow will keep you on track and avoid the pile up of trying to do everything at once at the last minute! Create your goodies ahead of time as much as possible. This leaves you more time to actually enjoy your guests on Thanksgiving Day! We've made an example to match our traditional Thanksgiving menu.
Aromatherapy counters smells and controls nausea. Put a couple of drops of lavender, mint or lemon essential oil on a tissue or handkerchief. Take a whiff when you feel sick.
Keep hydrated and remember to eat. You can get so engrossed in creating the perfect meal that those everyday events, like eating, blur into the background. Keep your water bottle handy and stop occasionally for a healthy snack.
"Snack. While fixing holiday meals when I was pregnant, I always forgot to eat and got sick." ~Shellie, Pregnancy.org member
Plan rest breaks: So much to accomplish...so little time. Stop! Your family and your friends gather to enjoy one another's company...and your presence. Today, take time to take care of yourself.
Simplify: Maybe this year you don't have the energy to do everything. Instead, take a small part of the holiday and make it big. Focus on something that you can do -- like an easy meal or stunning decorations -- and make that your contribution to the holiday season.
Figure out what you can do ahead of schedule. Stretching the work over a week or two can make all the difference.
Around the house: Do any heavy cleaning on the weekend prior. Enlist help! Go ahead and move tables and chairs as needed. (This is really smart to do if you are also working outside the home and only have the weekend or after work hours to organize!) The night before Thanksgiving, spot check, put out any flowers or decorations, set the table (unless you have little hands that will "unset" it for you!), put fresh towels in the guest bathroom, etc.