Even when you love cooking or adore hosting a crowd at your home, holiday meals can often cause tons of stress. There are just so many things to cook, allergies and preferences to consider, and little or big tasks that lead to burnout by mealtime. You know the deal: Typically, one or two people end up frustrated AF while everyone else enjoys football.
But speaking of football, there's no denying the NFL knows how to organize a collection of people with varying skills and agendas — which is probably why one family is going viral for turning holiday meal prep tasks into their very own version of the NFL Draft.
“This is how I do Thanksgiving so that my siblings and I don’t kill each other,” starts CR Cederberg.
“Basically, every dish has a point value from one to three: a cranberry dish is a one; turkey is a three. And we all draft what dishes we want to make. We also do this thing called ‘flex kitchen,’ which basically means you hang out in the kitchen for an hour, and your job is to keep the kitchen clean. So, unload the dishwasher if it’s ready. Loading it. Helping out the people cooking. Whatever it takes to keep the kitchen moving.”
Of course, many families split up some portions of big holiday meals. The host cooks the turkey since it’s the hardest to transport. Mom makes the sweet potatoes because she likes them a certain way. And Aunt Cam makes the corn because microwaving a bag is about all she can be trusted with. All of those things are helpful and constitute teamwork. Yet, without an actual system, someone always seems to end up in the kitchen babysitting the stuffing. That same person also usually ends up washing dishes because they can’t sit still or they need that 1/3 measuring cup for a fourth time today.
Enter Cederberg's NFL-style system.
Dividing the tasks among the family involves a Zoom call and a spreadsheet. It’s a bit of work upfront, but it pays off with a relatively easy holiday for all parties. Everyone feels like they’re doing their fair share and only their fair share. No one is left feeling like they’re carrying dinner on their backs and missing out on family fun in the meantime. A little bit of pre-season planning, you see, avoids a ton of midseason resentment.
It’s worth noting that there are some additional things to consider, though. Once you know what you’re going to make and how many points each meal item is worth, you should add them all up. Using the total points, you’ll divide by the number of contributing people in your family, and that’s how many points each person signs up for.
For instance, in Cederberg’s Thanksgiving Template, she shares that the meal’s total point value is 56, and when split among her seven family members, each person is in charge of eight points. Since turkey is three and cranberry is one, you could sign up for both and only need to “spend” four more points to be considered fully contributing. At the top of her template, she also notes that you can “trade” assignments after the draft is completed. However, owning a task means you’re responsible for the entire thing: “Getting ingredients, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after preparation.”
If flex kitchen hours don’t work for your kitchen (maybe your kitchen is too small for additional people), you could easily add clean-up and prep to the draft. Things like dishes after dinner could be worth more points. You could even do a kids' draft and include things like setting the table, dusting the sideboard where dishes will sit, or making place cards.
Or perhaps you’d rather just do it all by yourself. That’s OK, too... as long as you’re healthy about it and don’t hold your work over your loved ones’ heads after dinner.