Multiple Thanksgiving Invites? Drama-Free Ways to Manage

Don't stress if you have multiple Thanksgiving invitations. There are plenty of ways to make it work and communicate without causing drama or hurt feelings.

Published October 27, 2023
Family greeting grandparents at door, smiling

A human can really only eat so many turkey dinners in the space of a few hours. So if you've got multiple invitations for Thanksgiving, you have to make some choices (and we're not talking about wearing elastic waist pants).

If you have divorced parents, lots of relatives and friends asking you to join them, or in-laws to split your time between, the whole Thanksgiving dinner thing can get pretty overwhelming. There are a few ways to split your time between Turkey Day dinner tables, and we've got some helpful tips for choosing where to eat and communicating your choice. This doesn't have to be stressful, we promise.

1. Rotate Where You Eat Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving happens every year, so feel free to switch up your schedule. Lots of people trade off between their parents and their spouse's parents or different groups of friends. Establish a schedule for the next few years and tell everyone about it, and you'll be all set.

2. Eat at the House Closest to You

Many people get Thanksgiving and the day after off of work and school. And with the weekend, that gives you four days. If you need to travel to get to one of the places, that eats up a lot of your time in a fairly short break. In this case, we like the idea of just saying you're going to eat at the house closest to where you live. It's a simple explanation, and people tend to understand.

3. Establish a Holiday Schedule

Thanksgiving is just one of the big dinner holidays for most families. Let's not forget Easter, Christmas, Passover, and lots of others. You can establish a schedule for where you eat these holiday meals — Thanksgiving one place and Passover another, for instance. That way, no one feels left out because Thanksgiving isn't their holiday (they have another holiday coming up).

4. Host Thanksgiving Dinner Yourself

If you have the space to host your own Thanksgiving dinner, this can be a great way to solve the problem. Ask everyone to come to your house. You can invite anyone you want, and you don't have to travel.

Quick Tip

You can divide the cooking duties and help everyone feel involved by asking guests to bring something to Thanksgiving dinner. Salads and sides are perfect for this.

5. Don't Eat the Whole Meal in One Spot

Family Stand Round a Dessert Table in a Dining Room

If you're willing to eat at multiple houses, don't plan to eat an entire Thanksgiving dinner each place you go (trust us; even the stretchiest elastic pants can't handle that). Instead, eat dinner in one place and dessert in another. Or break it up even further by doing appetizers at one house, dinner at another, and dessert at a third.

6. Celebrate Thanksgiving as a Multi-Day Holiday

There's no reason you can't extend the celebration to multiple days if the hosts are flexible. You can plan to have Thanksgiving dinner with one side of the family on Thursday and a second dinner with the other side of the family on Friday or Saturday. The trick here is making sure the menu is traditional but also not exactly the same. No one wants to feel like they're serving leftovers for a big holiday meal. Communicate the plans with both families up front so they can plan ahead.

7. Get Together for Another Activity Before or After Dinner

Eating a giant meal isn't the only way to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you're eating dinner with one group, why not do something else earlier or later in the day with another group? You can volunteer together, have a board game party, hold a movie night, or do anything else that would be fun.

Tips for Communicating With Family About Your Choice

Deciding what you want to do for Thanksgiving dinner when you have multiple invitations is one thing, but communicating that with family and friends is another. It's all about planning ahead and being thoughtful.

  • Decide your plans at least a month before Thanksgiving. You don't want to wait until the last minute and then spring it on your parents that you won't be sharing their turkey.
  • As soon as you decide, tell all the people who are involved.
  • Make your decision about you and not about them. For instance, explain what the challenge is and tell everyone you wish you could be in two places at once (skip mentioning that Aunt Joan's turkey was super dry last year).
  • Offer another way to connect on the holiday if you can't be there in person. A phone call or video chat can go a long way to making family and friends feel like you're sharing the holiday.

Big Holidays Have Big Expectations

All holidays come with big expectations, and Thanksgiving is no exception. If you have multiple Thanksgiving dinner invitations, your best bet is to make the best choice for you and then manage other people's expectations of how and where you'll celebrate. Ultimately, if you communicate clearly and kindly, you've got it covered.

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Multiple Thanksgiving Invites? Drama-Free Ways to Manage