Thanksgiving Celebration for EVERYONE: Delegate set up & clean up with humor & ease

Thanksgiving Celebration for EVERYONE: When Set Up and Clean Up Is Shared

Thanksgiving celebrates collaboration. The Indians helped the settlers. The turkey gave up all for our feast. Who’s doing what for your Thanksgiving celebration?

I prided myself in having Thanksgiving all under control until that year I forgot two place settings for our guests...and I felt like I had climbed into the oven and roasted with the bird. (Less of a “faux pas” than showing up, kids in tow, on New Year’s Eve for a New Year’s Day party. I’m thankful for gracious friends, forgiveness, and great senses of humor.)

We still prepare a fabulous feast. We’ve even extended organize set up and clean up and make them part of the party. Everyone gets to pitch in. Besides, discussions are more intimate when two or three are active together.

Read on for the scoop or directly download our easy-to-use delegation wonder.

You GET TO Help!

An organized delegation of tasks may seem “too structured” for you. If the alternative means too many people in the kitchen or too few helping out, think again!

It can feel odd to invite guests to work (it’s definitely not done in Paris, but I do it anyhow). That’s why we’ve developed a motto and a tool to present the idea with humor and ease.

“Be Happy. We’re all turkeys. Help out!”

The purpose: let EVERYONE—host and hostess included—celebrate Thanksgiving.

The concept: Everyone signs up for a job. There are four pre-meal tasks, four post-gobble ones, and a bonus. If you’re getting together for a big family reunion, create work teams with members from different families. Who knows who might end up as team leader; one of our readers shared that her 6 year old daughter was teaching her 25 year old cousin how to set the table!

The tool: Download our free printable. It’s a Show & Tell job chart specially designed for Thanksgiving dinner. Easy peezy to follow. Each task is described in words and with a photo of the job well done. Of course some people will resist. Let the kids respond for you, “Uncle George, do you want me to explain what the picture means?” It’s worked for others!

Pre-Feast: Thankful food’s coming

Help the cook: (Could be an adult or even a 7+ year old child) Basting, washing the electric knife that has been stored for 11 months, scooping mashed potatoes into serving dishes, making the salad dressing, cutting bread (French baguettes go with everything, including turkey)...

Give 10 minutes for whatever:
- Adult tasks: the flour bag fell on the floor and the kitchen requires emergency vacuuming, ran out of butter and need some from next door, how do we get these candles to stay vertical?!
- Kids’ help: writing the place cards in this job (great for kids to do unless you’ve been slaving for days over Martha’s latest model).

Set the table: (Great adult-child team, especially if using fine china) Pretty self-explanatory. About table décor, remember that the perfect table is one where everyone has a place! Anything more qualifies as “the cherry on top”... no need to go over the top!

Entertain the younger kids:(Possibly a teen or a cuddly person.) When the turkey is about to birth, “How much longer?” from your hungry tyke is unwelcome conversation. Dedicate a person to be a companion to super excited, attention (and food) hungry tots.

Post-Gobble: Thankful we ate well

Clear and wipe the table: (Kids can carry cutlery while adults manipulate the plates.) If you’re a stickler for neatness, coach your team to scrape plates clean and stack them. “Soak cutlery in this soapy bin and stack empty plates here.” Chez nous (in our home) we serve Thanksgiving dinner in courses (à la French). So we have multiple sets of dishes. Stacking them becomes vital just to maneuver around the kitchen. The job is finally complete when the table is wiped down, not before!

Do dishes: (teens or adults) pretty self-explanatory. Do include a “washer” and a “dryer” so that pots, pans, and serving containers which don’t fit into the dishwasher get cleaned up and correctly stowed.

Sweep up crumbs: (for those who love to crawl under the table). Invariably, there will be crumbs. Clean them up before they spread!

Take out the trash: (for the person who complained the most. Not glamorous, but easy job. Remember to thank them for it!)


Empty the Dishwasher: If your guests are still around when the cycle is over... There is no rush. Be happy.

your free “Be Happy. We’re all turkeys. Help out!” chart.

And thanks to for their funny and free cartoons.

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