If you’re like me, you spend all November looking forward to Thanksgiving. A holiday built around feasting, family and football? There’s no better combination. But if you’re really like me, you’ll want to maximize the relaxation of the holiday — and there’s no better way to do that than by avoiding responsibilities.
Sure, you definitely feel a sense of duty to contribute to a burdensome Thanksgiving meal. But you’re a University Maryland student who has gone from the end of August to the end of November without a legitimate break and, by God, you deserve one.
There are a few chores you’ll want to stay away from completing and foods you’ll want no business preparing, and we’ll start with those. Steer clear from doing the dishes at the end of the meal. Standing? Cleaning? Touching wet food? None of these activities are appealing with a belly full of deliciousness.
And if you’re helping with food, avoid the turkey and gravy. There is so much pressure when you handle the turkey that you might as well let the hosts take all the responsibility (and blame when it inevitably comes out dry) for the iconic dish. Gravy is also a tough one. Too thin and you might as well be eating a Thanksgiving soup. Too thick and it won’t flow over your potatoes in that delectable way.
Here are a few easy yet seemingly important tasks to knock out of the way.
Set the table
Setting the table is an Evan Haynos childhood specialty. It’s simple — fork and napkin on the left, knife and spoon on the right. My family likes to do buffet style serving, so I never even have to put down plates.
Setting the table is such an easy task, but since it’s extremely visible, guests will remember seeing you walk back and forth from the dining room to the cabinet to fetch supplies. Also, if your family uses assigned seating or name cards, this gives you a level of control over who sits where so you can stack your end of the table with your favorite relatives.
Last-minute grocery store run
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in my family without someone forgetting something. If dinner time is 5 p.m., there is guaranteed to be a “We forgot the cranberry sauce!” at 4:15. This is where you save the day. Stay on your toes and keep an ear out from the TV room as dinner time approaches. Get the grocery list from your aunt and boom, you’re the superhero who saved Thanksgiving.
Huge added bonus if the family bickering is getting on your nerves: You get 30-45 minutes to yourself on a day where you never have any privacy or alone time.
[Read more: Is it time to crack out the Christmas music?]
“Let me watch that while you take a break”
The head chefs of your family will undoubtedly be stressed while in the kitchen. Turkey alone is an intense process, and if you add in seven other side dishes, they’ll be running on empty by the end of the day. Do them a favor and let them enjoy some of that relaxation.
Head on into the kitchen around halftime of the 12:30 p.m. football game and offer, “Hey, I’ll keep an eye on [insert dish]. Why don’t you go take a break for a bit?”
You’re not offering to prepare anything, just to monitor. It’s easy and makes you look great.
These instructions aren’t intended to make you deceitful or unhelpful — if you like to cook and help prepare the meal, then you definitely should! We need more people like you. But, if your ideal Thanksgiving is mainly composed of sitting on the couch, sipping an age-appropriate beverage and watching nine hours of football, these tips will help you contribute in your own way.