Minimalist Holidays: Delegation

MinimalistParenting_holidays-badge.pngThe holiday season is upon us and I'm super excited to announce Minimalist Holidays, a series of posts inspired by the central theme of Minimalist Parenting: that you can enjoy life more when you do less. Yes, we are formally giving you permission to do less -- woo hoo! I'll be posting Minimalist Holidays content here and Asha will post over at Parent Hacks and The Accidental Expert; the main repository for all of these nuggets of wisdom will be here. Bookmark it. Pin it. Live it. You'll be so much happier! And now, let me share 7 reasons why holiday meal delegation is awesome.

In theory, I'd say pretty much everyone knows that delegation is a good thing. But sometimes (like me, in my former Type A life) it's hard to let go of control. But here are 7 reasons why delegation -- here specifically in the context of preparing for the Thanksgiving meal -- is awesome:

1. It starts the holiday off with unity. Bringing the family together can be stressful. I hear that. But delegating via potluck means you start the holiday off with a unifying gesture as soon as everyone walks through the door. I love that.

2. It provides an opportunity for helping and learning. When your family is given a Thanksgiving potluck assignment, it opens a window to inspire helping. When my Mom asked us what we wanted to bring for Thanksgiving, Laurel immediately said, "Can we make pies? Can I roll out the crusts?" Use the occasion as a way to get your kids in the kitchen with you. They'll learn great skills that will pave the way for ultimate mealtime independence.

3. You'll discover new dishes. Ever been in a food rut (like, yesterday)? One of my favorite things about potluck is discovering new yummy dishes. Major bonus when we discover a dish that Laurel and/or Violet inhales.

4. Culinary "discord" can be awesome. Some control freaks (ahem) fret about food harmony. At one level, I get that, but really, culinary discord can be awesome. One of the things I love about my family's potlucks is that they're such a fun mish mash (see below image). Thanksgiving usually includes traditional fare (turkey!) as well as Korean favorites (mandu!) and then other random items. And it's perfect for people (like Laurel, who is a vegetarian) who aren't into the traditional turkey and stuffing.


5. It creates conversation. When you have a meal prepared by many hands, you're guaranteed conversation around the different dishes, where the recipes came from, kitchen mishaps, and the like.

6. You'll have more time for goofing off. Seriously, think about all of the hours of kitchen labor you'll be spared by preparing 1-2 dishes instead of the entire spread. More hours for fun and games = win.

7. You may discover awesome new delegation strategies. So, this last point is the accidental inspiration for this post! My mom is hosting Thanksgiving this year and she used to be one of those people who made the entire meal (for 20 or so people usually). Things are different now; she's older, she's in a smaller home, her children are all grown and capable of helping. When she sent around her potluck roster yesterday, she listed the foods people had signed up to bring and also (brilliantly, in my opinion) assigned each person one paper good item (paper towels, plastic cups, paper plates, napkins, Ziploc bags, tin foil). Since we have so many people assembling, we always have tons of food, lots of mess, and lots of leftovers. This strategy frees up the need to wash dinner dishes, and ensures that there will be materials for people to take home leftovers -- all while distributing the cost of supplies. I am totally stealing this idea next time I host a potluck at my house.


+ + + + +


This post is part of Minimalist Holidays, a series inspired by the idea that you can enjoy the holidays more when you do less. Between now and the end of the year, coauthor Asha Dornfest and I will share ideas for simplifying the holidays so you can focus on what's important: enjoying the season with your family. Visit the Minimalist Holidays page for links to the entire series.