Nine Lessons I Learned at Thanksgiving

About eight years ago I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner in my home. I was newly married, living across the country from the ones who had prepared all of my previous Thanksgiving meals. What I thought would be a smaller gathering of friends who lived too far to travel home ended up being a delightful time with 33 of our closest friends. Needless to say, I learned a lot that first Thanksgiving dinner I prepared. As Thanksgiving is nearing and I’m planning another meal with family and friends, I’m reminded of the lessons I learned, many of which can apply to a variety of event planning scenarios.

Here are nine lessons I learned while hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner:

  • It’s natural to be nervous before an event you plan. No matter how big or small, the feelings of “what if” can inundate your mind. While a level of nervousness can be expected, remember to allow yourself the opportunity to have fun. After all, this is your party, too.
  • Some people notice the details; others do not. Pay attention to the details. From tying a fall-colored ribbon around a candle holder to setting the table with care, take time to incorporate special touches when you can. This will make a big impact on those who share in your desire for perfection.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification. If you don’t understand something or aren’t sure it will work, ask someone. I think I called my mom no less than ten times while preparing that Thanksgiving meal.
  • Be smart in the choices you make. If you don’t own a dishwasher, paper products might be the best option unless you want to spend your afternoon washing dishes rather than fellowshipping with friends. Think ahead as you plan.
  • You can make a space work. I never thought we could fit 35 people around tables in my home, plus have space for food. You know what? It was cramped, but it was intimate and fun. While you won’t be able to fit 100 people into a room designed for 25, there are creative ways to utilize the space you have.
  • Don’t forget the kids! Will there be children at your event? Set up a kids table with kid-friendly activities. Spend a little extra on goodies the children can take home. Parents will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
  • Let people help. Often people want to help, but they don’t know what is needed. Sometimes simply asking a question such as, “Could you bring the ice?” allows people to feel included and valued. If others offer, let them help if it is conducive to your planning. The end result might not be the exact thing you had expected, but, including others will take the pressure off of you. If it’s something that is a “make or break” for you, consider asking someone you know will do it the way you want it done. For the other, less important things, ask for help.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. That first Thanksgiving in my home, I had a huge fear about preparing the turkey. There was a chef who lived two doors down coming to our meal. I asked him to do it, and he gladly agreed. What was weighing heavily on me was easily passed off to someone much more qualified. When it comes to events, utilize the strengths of others in places where you might fall a little short. For example, if you are completely afraid of speaking in public, ask someone who is comfortable in the spotlight.
  • There is always, always, always something to be thankful for. Don’t forget that. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of planning and making it happen, remember the purpose of the time—thanksgiving, family, friendship, fellowship. It might just change your perspective as you try to figure out how you’re going to cook five different dishes at five different temperatures and keep them warm enough to serve.

Happy Thanksgiving, from our team to yours. May your day be filled with lots of laughter, family, friendship, fellowship, good food, and most of all, gratitude.



Be Thankful

Thanksgiving—a time for family, food, football and faith. A time to reflect on the blessings God has given us. A time to simply say “thank you.”

As we enter the holiday season, I hope each of you can take a few moments to ponder the ways God has been faithful to you this year. As you gather with family and friends, remember to simply give thanks for the many blessings you have received.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I had the chance to ask Ridgecrest Conference Center leaders what they are most thankful for this year. Here are a few of their responses:

  • “I’m grateful for God’s grace, the opportunity to serve at Ridgecrest with some amazing people and for God giving me a wife who helps me grow in my faith, forgives me and believes in me.” – Art, Director
  •  “I am thankful for the improvements at Ridgecrest, a great year of serving groups and a leadership team that supports and challenges one another.” – Melissa, Sales
  •  “I am thankful for a family and extended family that loves God and holds Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in their lives. I am thankful for a strong team and godly place to work.” – David, Conference Services
  •  “I am grateful for a wonderful staff to serve alongside and to be able to be a part of a leadership team that holds each other accountable to live out our mission.” – Rose, Event Coordination
  •  “I am thankful to work with a team of people who desire to lead Ridgecrest well and a family who encourages and loves me daily.”  – Robert, Business Office
  •  “I am thankful that God has shown favor to Ridgecrest by providing us with business growth that has allowed us to make substantial investments in our team members and facilities. I am also thankful for my boys that constantly remind me of what unconditional love looks like.” – Daniel, Facilities
  •  “I am thankful for the amazing team that the Lord has given us in Food Service and all of Ridgecrest, as well for the ongoing growth in our team as we seek to impact lives for God’s glory!” – Marcus, Food Service
  • I am truly thankful for the folks that God has brought to Ridgecrest—the team that I am on and the team that I lead.” – AJ, Housekeeping

What about you? What are you most thankful for this holiday season? As you prepare for this time of thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness to you.