Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide

Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide – Part 5


Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude and celebration, but for many, it’s also a period of added stress and anxiety. This fifth installment of our Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide looks at sharing responsibility and decision-making to be sure your family works together like the Head of the Charles’ top competitors.

Head of the Charles
Head of the Charles

This is the fifth post in our Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide series.

by Seth Eisenberg

Whether you’re setting out for the Head of the Charles or preparing your home and family to welcome Thanksgiving guests, you’ll need a team of people actively involved in getting ready for the special day. Just as the competitors in the rowing competition’s 46th edition wouldn’t travel far without working together, your Thanksgiving feast will require plenty of collaboration and good sportsmanship.

The best-planned celebration can be easily sabotaged by power struggles or mistaken assumptions about who is responsible for what. Before finalizing your invitation list, menu selections, seating arrangements, and plans for putting it all together, having a discussion about who’s responsible for what will make the whole process more enjoyable for all.

Relationships suffer when one person tries to make every decision for others. Dividing authority between family members can help families break out of “decision traps” by clarifying who’s in charge of what. Richard Stuart, D.S.W., developed an exercise called the ”Powergram” that creates five spaces representing areas of independence and interdependence to help couples think about decision-making. Couples, families and teams learn to create their own Powergrams in leading relationship skills and marriage education classes.

Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide

The first space to the far left represents the areas in which one person has complete independence and autonomy to make decisions. The next space represents areas of independent decision-making that require input from others. The middle of the Powergram represents decisions that must be made together. The final two areas are decisions others can make with input and, last, decisions others can make independently.

What are the decision-making areas important to preparing for your successful Thanksgiving celebration? Consider which of those listed below fit for your event and add others. When you’ve got your list complete, get your Thanksgiving team together to talk about each area and where it fits in your family’s Thanksgiving Powergram. The exercise will help your family learn about sharing responsibility and working together on behalf of something meaningful to all of you.

  1. Budget
  2. Guest list
  3. Invitations
  4. Travel
  5. Food Choices
  6. Drinks
  7. Shopping
  8. Food preparation
  9. Location
  10. Tidying and Repairs
  11. Music
  12. Activities
  13. Childcare
  14. Seating
  15. Dishes
  16. Serving
  17. Clean-Up
  18. Thank you’s

After your Thanksgiving celebration, get together to talk about how everything went and how the Powergram can help you create more peace, teamwork, and joy the whole year through.

Seth Eisenberg is President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation, an industry leader in relationship and marriage education.

Additional Resources

Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide, Part One

Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide, Part Two

Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide, Part Three

Thanksgiving Family Survival Guide, Part Four

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center

PAIRS Foundation

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