family gathering for Thanksgiving dinner (sweatpants Thanksgiving)

It was the hair bow that broke me on Thanksgiving day. After a 30-minute battle of wills to get my toddler daughter dressed in the adorable, frilly, autumn-themed dress with matching bow I bought knowing she would wear it one time, we were nearly at the finish line. Then the bow was tossed across the room for the third time — and my sanity went with it.

I excused myself outside to scream into the abyss. Why bother, I thought to myself defeatedly. Then I actually asked myself: Why am I bothering? Why am I making my daughter wear what she clearly thinks is an uncomfortable outfit to sit in her own house, drip mashed potatoes all over herself, and play with her own family? The more I questioned it, the less sense it made.

Then I looked at my own impractical outfit, then my husband’s. Again, why was I going to get dressed up to go to my own living room and eat pie? Who was I trying to impress? 

I hadn’t planned to host that year. We were closing on our new house the Monday after Thanksgiving, so all of our serving platters and kitchen gadgets had been packed away in the weeks prior. Then my mother called and said that between her work schedule and my brother’s travel plans, I was officially being passed the hosting baton. I was doing the family a favor! Why was I letting some mental Instagram expectation of what Thanksgiving should look like ruin the day for me and my child?

My family got the group text 10 minutes later. “We’re not getting dressed up. At all. Dress code is now ‘athleisure Thanksgiving.’ Prepare accordingly.”

And you know what? They all loved it. Every guest walked in wearing their lounge day finest. Belts were nowhere to be found. Waistbands were easily expandable. For the first time in as long as any of us could remember, we sat around on Thanksgiving Day and casually ate, drank, and laughed in the comfort of our sweatpants. The wardrobe set the mood for the day — relaxed, fun, and free of any pretense.

By dessert it was decided: We’re never looking back. Sweatpants Thanksgiving is now a beloved tradition in our family.

So if you find yourself fighting with the kids about outfits on Turkey Day morning, take a breath and ask yourself why. Maybe your family enjoys hosting more formal holidays, or maybe you’re going to a nice restaurant. Or maybe — just maybe — you’ll switch to sweats.

Brittany Kooienga
This writer has been brought to you today by copious amounts of caffeine and dry shampoo. Between raising two very active kiddos and two even more active beagles with her husband in Kingston, MA; Brittany has learned to take each hour as it comes. Not easy for a self-confessed Type A over planner. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Suffolk University, she spent a few years in the marketing world before returning to school to earn a post-baccalaureate degree in Health Education. One month after completing her coursework, she and her husband welcomed their first child and she has been the primary caregiver for her children ever since. When she isn’t chasing kids or dogs, Brittany can be found in her home office where she works as an Operational Management Consultant, or in the kitchen coming up with new recipes her kids will actually want to eat. You can follow her kitchen adventures on Instagram at @thekidsateittoo.