Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Happy Thanksgiving season, fam!

I can’t cook and I hate to clean, but I’m an expert when it comes to drinking, shopping, Whole Foods, and family tension. So, I made a Thanksgiving Survival Guide that’s sure to make this your best Thanksgiving yet. Fowl play encouraged.

brains over blonde thanksgiving survival guide

Family Matters

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it’s all about family time. But ya, I know, family time means a LOT of time. With your family.

The key here is having somewhere to focus your energy (besides just cooking and eating). If you don’t have any activities planned, that’s when Aunt Sally is going to interrogate you about your romantic life by saying things like:

If you’re single: Are you dating anyone? How could someone as pretty as you be single? Are you using any of those… what are they called… (*with disgust*) dating apps? Please, tell me you’re not using dating apps. I have a great idea! How about I set you up with my coworker’s son Gerald? He could really use a girlfriend.

If you’re taken: Soooo… where’s the ring? How long have you two been together now… three years? It’s time to get engaged! Oh, it’s only been eight months? Huh, I must have been thinking of the last guy. What was his name? Brandon? I really liked Brandon. What’s he doing now?

If you’re engaged: When’s the wedding? I haven’t gotten anything in the mail yet. Have you sent out invitations? You should really get on that. You know, most people send them out at least six months in advance. Did I tell you about my neighbor’s daughter Ally? She lost her engagement ring in the ocean! Be careful in the ocean.

If you’re married: Would you like a glass of wine? Or are you PREGNANT? I won’t tell anyone… are you? I’d be so happy if you are. Oh, you’re not? Well, are you trying? When do you think you’ll be ready? How many kids are you thinking? Bob and I had three but we always regretted not having more.

Basically, we need to distract Aunt Sally. If you have activities planned, she can’t corner you when you’re trying to go to the bathroom. Here are some of the activities my family does on Thanksgiving:

  1. Hiking. Our hikes vary in intensity depending on who’s in the group, where we are, and how many dogs we have amongst us. Sometimes it’s a legit hike, but more often than not it’s just a walk around the neighborhood or a stroll on the beach. Sometimes we’ll get active in other ways and throw a football or play badminton. If your family’s fit af, do your local Turkey Trot. The point is, if you get out of the house I’m pretty certain you reduce your chances of going stir crazy by 25%. Plus, you can always just talk to the dogs.
  2. Games. I love games. Depending on your fam, this prob isn’t the time to bust out Cards Against Humanity or What Do You Meme (great games tho). My fam is ALL about Catch Phrase and Apples to Apples.
  3. Volunteer. In case you forgot, Thanksgiving is all about being grateful. Volunteer orgs can be overfilled on Thanksgiving Day, so if you’re spending multiple days with your family, consider volunteering on Wednesday or Friday.
  4. Get creative. I mean this literally as in, you can do crafts together (or play music if you have the skillz). Or, you can get creative by telling stories and showing off some your latest adventures through photos. (Pro Tip: grandmas love photos)
  5. Outsource. This is gonna make my fam sound a lil nuts, but one year we hired a psychic, and another year we shot balloons with BB guns. And you know what? They were both totally bonding, memorable experiences that I’ll never forget.

So think ahead and plan some activities. Trust me on this. Not only will family time be less awkward/tense/boring/whatever, but you’ll make fun lasting memories together.

Oh, and you know what else pairs well with difficult relatives? Wine.

Coffee, you’re on the bench. Alcohol, suit up.

No matter how many activities you plan with your family, you’re a woman and you have needs. So let’s talk alcohol.

Want to be the most popular granddaughter at Thanksgiving? Make spiked cider. People love that stuff.

Brains over Blonde’s So-Freaking-Easy Spiked Apple Cider Recipe

*Makes 8 Servings*

There are plenty of cider recipes out there with 72389 ingredients, but we all know I can’t cook. So I promise this is the simplest recipe around.

brains over blonde thanksgiving spiked cider

Ingredient Set 1: 20 cups (160 fl. oz.) of apple juice, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 12 oz spiced rum

Ingredient Set 2: 8 cinnamon sticks, 1 sliced apple

Instructions (legit this is all you have to do): Mix all ingredients from Set 1 in a pot over low/medium heat. Stir. Once hot (and all spices have blended well), pour into eight mason jars. Add a cinnamon stick and apple slice to each jar. Pop in some cute straws (duh). Voila.

It’s delicious, so gobble that cider till you wobble. But whatever you do, don’t spill it. Spilling a full mason jar of spiked cider is the adult equivalent of letting go of a balloon.

The Food Coma

thanksgiving survival guide brains over blonde

I’m so sick of articles with headlines like “How To Stay Skinny During Thanksgiving.” Like, no actually, I regret nothing. None of this “omg I went from Barbie to Carbie.” I literally donut care. It’s just ONE day, full of family and memories, so eat up if it makes you happy. Now, let’s get into FEAST MODE.

If you don’t know how to cook, or don’t think it’s a good use of time, I have big news. You can order a delicious turkey (and all sorts of other holidays deliciousness) in advance from Whole Foods. #grateful

What should you bring to Friendsgiving if you don’t cook? I suggest a cheese plate, from-the-box brownies, fruit salad, or lots of alcohol.


We are seriously all so HASHTAG BLESSED. Seriously though, never forget what Thanksgiving is all about: Gratitude. This is the time to take a step back and notice all the blessings in your life. Is there someone who has changed your life for the better this year? Let them know! (We don’t do this enough!)

Every year, my family and friends go around in a circle and share what we’re thankful for. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s teary (it all depends on what happened that year and the amount of wine consumed), but it’s always a beautiful experience. Acknowledging your blessings and sharing your gratitudes has a way of unlocking even more joy in your life.

And of course, what do Americans do after we express our gratitudes? We shop. Don’t worry, I’ll get my Cyber Week sales breakdown to you asap. In the meantime, what are your Thanksgiving survival tips? Share the wealth by commenting below!

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  • KathleenNovember 10, 2017 - 8:18 am

    This guide is awesome, Anna! We start telling funny family stories about halfway through dinner and end up sitting around the table for an hour after we’ve finished cry-laughing as everyone tries to one-up each other. My fiance pointed out last year that about 80% of the stories are ones we’ve already told at Thanksgiving’s past, but we all are laughing as hard as we did the first time we heard them. It’s a blast 🙂 ReplyCancel

    • AnnaNovember 10, 2017 - 2:39 pm

      That is so cute!! Cry-laughing is the absolute best!ReplyCancel

  • TeriNovember 21, 2018 - 6:10 am

    Excellent guide! Try spiking that spiked cider with a dash of pineapple juice- it’s amazing, really adds something. My family is pulling out the Jenga….loser does the dishes. Happy Thanksgiving!ReplyCancel

    • AnnaNovember 21, 2018 - 11:18 am

      omg – pineapple juice – GENIUS!ReplyCancel


posts popular