HomeFashionHappy Thanksgiving. I regret to inform you that you're doing it wrong.

Happy Thanksgiving. I regret to inform you that you’re doing it wrong.


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I assume it was Satan or some other demon who first planted the idea that people should ‘dress up’ and ‘look nice’ for Thanksgiving dinner. No, proper Thanksgiving attire is – ideally – pajamas.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Now that we’ve dispatched with the niceties, I regret to inform you you’re doing the holiday all wrong. I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear this close to America’s annual celebration of belt-loosening, but someone around here needs to step in and dispatch some tough love.

You over there. Did you buy those raisins because you plan to put them in your Thanking stuffing? That’s disgusting. Return those raisins to the store immediately and never speak of this again.

And you, the one planning to deep fry this year’s turkey. Has the gravy slid off your mashed potatoes? You halt that ridiculous viral-video-of-a-grease-fire-waiting-to-happen idea and make plans to cook your damn turkey in an oven like a normal American carnivore.

A perfect Thanksgiving is easy, as long as you do it my way

At this point, you’re probably asking: All right, who died and named you the Grand Poobah of Thanksgiving?

Well, person with too many questions, I have found throughout my life that the way I do things is right and the way other people do those same things is wrong. Take loading the dishwasher. My dishwasher-loading technique is brilliant and perfect, yet whenever someone stays with us, I notice they load the machine in an embarrassingly ridiculous fashion. (WHY IS THE SILVERWARE POINTING UP?!? SOMEONE COULD GET HURT!!)

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I always point out their flaws, and I’m sure they appreciate the advice, even if they can’t bring themselves to admit my approach is superior. (You may have experienced a similar feeling, believing your loading style is the world’s best. Sadly, you’re wrong. It’s mine.)

Five simple steps for a perfect Thanksgiving

Other areas where my expertise is superior to all others include child rearing, outdoor Christmas decorating, gift-wrapping technique and ice-cream-sundae assemblage. Hopefully that eases your mind about my qualifications.

On to my advice for a proper and enjoyable Thanksgiving:

Put marshmallows atop your sweet potatoes, you monsters

Sweet potatoes are mandatory, and the only proper way to prepare them is this: Boil them, use a blender to smooth them out, mix in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans, put it all in a baking dish and then – and this is the most important thing – cover every bit of the top with marshmallows before baking.

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Some elitist Americans find marshmallows too low brow and try to peddle fancy schmancy “sweet potato soufflé” or some other weirdly spiced bit of nastiness. You must stay strong. Marshmallows atop a sweet and simple batch of sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving imperative, and anything less is blended root-tuber yuck.

This is the way.

Wear pajamas or, at worst, comfy sweatpants

I assume it was Satan or some other demon who first planted the idea that people should “dress up” and “look nice” for Thanksgiving dinner. I would sooner be topped with marshmallows and popped in the oven than be caught wearing “slacks” or even “a nice shirt” on a day that revolves around consuming waist-swelling amounts of food.

No, proper Thanksgiving attire is – ideally – pajamas. They allow you to leap out of bed in the morning and have full freedom of movement while preparing massive amounts of food. And then, when the eating begins, the elastic waist band and flatteringly baggy material allows your body to expand naturally and comfortably.

Wearing pajamas will also prevent Thanksgiving-ers from doing anything nutty like “running a 5K turkey trot” or “getting a little exercise before the meal.”

Let each child in attendance buy whatever they want from the grocery store

After we had kids, we started a tradition where we would allow each one to go the store and pick out ANYTHING they wanted to add to the Thanksgiving meal. Invariably, each kid would pick something absolutely fantastic, like a bag of Cheetos or an entire cake from the bakery or a box of doughnuts.

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No matter how froufrou you think your Thanksgiving table should be, any honest person would see a giant bowl of Doritos or a plate full of Twinkies and think, “Ohhhhh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.”


For inexplicable reasons, virtually every Thanksgiving dinner includes some form of green vegetable: green bean casserole, creamed spinach, some horrific dish involving Brussels sprouts.

These attempts at having something healthy on the table are both absurd and, to be frank, counterproductive to the broader gorging endeavor being undertaken. Put simply, green vegetables waste valuable stomach space. Nobody really wants them and tossing them out there is disingenuous. If you need something green, sort out the green M&M’s that one of your children picked as a Thanksgiving contribution, put them in a small bowl and call it good.

Do not invite a bunch of relatives – keep it tight

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for good food. It’s a time to be thankful for the blessings you have in your life. And it’s a time to be with people you love.

That last part demands closer examination. The word “love,” if we’re being honest, gets used a bit too broadly when it comes to family. Ideally, you love your spouse, you love your children – maybe you love a parent or two, or possibly one particularly fun sibling or cousin. But when you cast too big a net at Thanksgiving, you wind up hauling in some undesirable fish or, in certain cases, sea trash.

So do yourself and your immediate family a favor: Keep the invite list short. Sure, you might ruffle a few feathers, but they’re not your feathers and it’s not your bird.

To recap, a good Thanksgiving involves eating food you actually like while wearing clothes you actually like and being around people you actually like.

Anything less means you’re doing it wrong.

You’re welcome.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on X, formerly Twitter, @RexHuppke and Facebook facebook.com/RexIsAJerk

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