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Thanksgiving Packing

No sooner has the hubbub of Halloween settled down then Thanksgiving comes along, and it’s non-stop until New Year’s Day. At least, it feels that way, with it seeming to speed up each year. As we prepare for another Thanksgiving, I, of course, am thinking about what to wear for my family and me.

Like every year, we are Ohio-bound to celebrate this fall holiday with my husband’s extended family, so clothing needs to be chosen for the actual day of giving thanks in addition to what we need to pack for the trip. Here’s my general approach for packing yourself and your little ones. Spouses and older kids are on their own.

First things first, how long will we be away, will there be laundry available, and what’s the forecast? Three overnights, yes, and it’s November, it’s Ohio, it’s flat, and it’s going to be cold. From here, I start with basics — PJs, underwear, socks, etc. My general habit is always to throw in an extra of each essential. With a seven and a 4-year-old, I play it safe with extra extras. For our three-night stay, that adds up to five pairs of socks, underpants, three sets of PJs, five tops and five bottoms, and three sweatshirts/hoodies for each kid. At this point, since they now have opinions on such matters, I try to involve them in picking out their clothes. Sometimes they are interested, but other times they couldn’t care less. I DO remind them while I’m packing that these tops, bottoms, and socks are the only options they will have while away. This sometimes requires several reminders for it to sink in.

For their Thanksgiving dinner outfit, I have them choose two options: Dressy and comfy. What they end up wearing will be a gameday decision. Of course, I want them to dress up, preferably in coordinated looks, but I’m also a realist. I’m not going to put up with a clothing-based tantrum 20 minutes before saying grace. Nor am I dying on a hill of sweatpants and unicorn t-shirts; as long as it goes on clean and they are warm enough, they can eat turkey wearing whatever.

Beyond clothes and toiletries, there’s a separate suitcase just for toys that they are in charge of packing and re-packing with games, crafts, stuffies, and whatever else they think they’ll “need.” They are much more enthusiastic about packing the toy suitcase than the clothing bag. I try to make this a learning moment in the hope that they start thinking ahead. I try to ask leading questions like, “do we need every Barbie on this trip, or will two each be enough?” “Do you think it’s a good idea to bring library books that may not make it back?” “Will there be enough time to assemble this Lego castle kit?” “Do you think the dollhouse will fit in a carry-on-sized roller bag?”

Thankfully, my husband gets to oversee electronics. So, he’ll charge tablets and headphones and work with the girls to download whatever they want to watch in the car. We used to be stalwarts about them amusing themselves on car trips, but quite frankly, I’m tired of playing “I Spy” or “the barn game.” We’re looking at a 4+ hours car trip; I’m all for whatever makes it easier. I just want to be left alone to read in peace in the passenger seat. Also, for the car, we have the requisite snacks and drinks. My husband also takes the lead in packing the “go” bag with those supplies and other sundries like band-aids, flushable wipes, and hand sanitizer.

For myself, comfort and warmth are the priority, especially for the downtime at our Airbnb, which we will be sharing with my husband’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law — FUN! In thinking about activities as well as the duration of the trip and weather, my packing list is looking at leggings, hiking boots, flannel shirts, and some Henley long-sleeved style tees. For the big dinner, I’m going monochromatic with a gray turtleneck and trousers, keeping it simple yet classic, with a menswear-style loafer and gold jewelry. I may even pack a dress coat or oversized blazer to throw on for the big family gathering while wearing my work-a-day puffer for travel.

And, of course, extras of the essentials, hair dryer, brushes, all of my lotions and potions, and makeup.

As for my husband, he’s on his own because I trust he will make the right decisions. We haven’t had the “Do you think shorts are a good idea for November…” learning moment for almost a decade.