Have a Thanksmas Celebration!

. November 3, 2015.
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As the mother of 5 small kids, I know how crazy holidays can get. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, dressing up, traveling, rushing and going into debt are just a few of the joys to look forward to from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. Why not take a day in between all that chaos to have a low-key Thanksmas celebration ? Invite who you want! Eat what you want! Wear what you want! Here are some details, as well as some dos and don’ts, for having a great annual Thanksmas* celebration!

Thanksmas is a great excuse to keep in touch with the friends you can’t even seem to spend time on the phone with anymore. I mean, Facebook is a great social outlet, but it’s not the same as a face-to-face conversation and a hug. Also, we overextend ourselves during the main holidays, and we need a day when we can focus on fun, relationships and relaxation.

Thanksmas is a holiday when religion doesn’t matter; it’s about spending time with loved ones — not just family. It can be held anytime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, usually on a weekend, never before noon. Hold this celebration at your place, someone else’s house if your space is limited or in a church basement.

Thanksmas includes friends, neighbors, a family you want to get to know better, your own family who might be out of town during the main holidays, etc. Invite who you want, not who you feel like you should. This is a great time to invite someone like that cool ex-aunt who you never get to see anymore.

Start with the invitations, and have your kids take green and red construction paper and trace their hand on the front for a turkey shape. Then head to the clearance section of your local party store and pick up leftover Thanksgiving goodies like plates, cups, napkins and decorations. While you’re there, grab some red and green plastic utensils, then find a plastic or fabric Christmas tablecloth (ask someone you know if you don’t have one). Download a bunch of Christmas music or pop in your favorite holiday CD.

Below are some extra tips to have a great annual celebration:

DON’T try to cook the perfect meal because the goal of this “holiday” is to have fun. Go ahead and cook a turkey and a ham if that’s what floats your boat, but I’m giving you permission to do something different like make pizza, stir-fry, tamales or bratwurst. It’s your party, and the sky’s the limit! Being a little goofy gains you extra Thanksmas points.

DON’T dress up. I’m not saying to ask your guests to come in jammies (okay, maybe I am), but for the love of all that is Thanksmas, please do not allow your guests to dress up! Give a prize to the guest with the worst hairstyle.

DON’T diet because I decree that calories don’t count today. Just enjoy yourself today and don’t beat yourself up over it. I’m not saying to make yourself sick, but take a day off from weight obsessions and the usual holiday stresses.

DON’T stress out. Your house does not need to be immaculate, and your cooking doesn’t need to be gourmet. Make your celebration a potluck so most of the meal is taken care of. Put out crayons, coloring books and games for the kids. And if you happen to pop something in the DVD player for the kids like “A Christmas Story” or “Polar Express” (or even Tom and Jerry’s “The Nutcracker”) so you can have some adult conversations in another room, I won’t tell anybody.

DO make it low-key and fun. On the invitation you might ask invitees to wear their worst holiday sweater. Consider having a White Elephant gift exchange (hey, one guest’s trash is another guest’s treasure).

DO give back. Come up with a charity, and have your guests bring something for it, like canned goods for a food bank or diapers for a local crisis pregnancy center. Teach the kids about religious freedom and diversity, and it’s nice to get together with all kinds of different people.

*For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, you can name this special in-between holiday “Thanksukah,” “Kwanzthanks” or just “mid-holiday.”

Kerrie McLoughlin is excited to throw her first Thanksmas party since having her kids.
Visit TheKerrieShow.com for all sorts of holiday fun!