How to French Kiss Your Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, along with Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, and let’s not forget my birthday.

As you can see, I’m all for any reason to get all gussied up, connect with friends and family over delicious food and divine wine and celebrate life.  But, there is something magical about our American tradition of gathering for a day to give gratitude with the air starting to chill and the scent of apple spice in the air.

Unfortunately, far too many women approach the holidays the way they go about their lives – hurried, pressured and overwhelmed. I know, because I used to be one of them.

I want this to be a holiday of elegance, style and joie de vivre, so here are some ideas to inspire you to French Kiss Thanksgiving.

  • Visit your local wine store and buy a bottle (or two) of Beaujolais Noveau. This charming and young wine is released once a year on the third Thursday every November and graces the tables of many Thanksgiving meals.  Made from Gamay grapes from the Beaujolais region of France, don’t be surprised by the notes of banana, fig and pear.  And, while it’s not a Bordeaux Grand Cru, it’s a fun vino tradition to add to this special day.
  • Plan in advance.  There’s no better way to create overwhelm than lack of planning and reacting to this decision.   If you want to create a new experience, you must plan for it.
  • Create a “gratitudes for the year” list. It’s called Thanksgiving for a reason.  And, what better time to celebrate and appreciate all that this year has brought you. Think about the new friends, opportunities, and experiences.  Turn the challenges into lessons learned.  How did you grow as a person?  We’re often so busy running to the next thing that we fail to really honor our lives.  But, that won’t be you!  You will beam with gratitude at the dinner table.
  • Decide how you want to feel before your feet hit the ground. Most women wake up thinking about all that needs to be done – turkey in the oven, stuffing prepared, table set, wine chilled, pecan pies made.  Before the day starts, they have often catapulted into overwhelm with their to-do lists. What I do is decide how I’m going to feel before I do anything. It’s the most important decision I make daily, but holidays are a great time to practice.  If I’ve already decided that I’m going to feel joyful, I’m not as likely to react to burning the casserole or a snarky comment by Uncle Joe.  To me, this is the greatest form of luxury: knowing that no one can take away my sunshine.  Only I can do that.
  • Luxuriate in a graceful bubble bath.  Once the turkey goes in the oven, I challenge you to go run a bath and give yourself the gift of your own time and care.  You give it to everyone else, right?  It’s your turn.  Plus, you’ll be so much calmer and prepped for the day’s events.
  • Choose an outfit that displays your appreciation for being a woman.  Just because you may be in the kitchen doesn’t mean that you can’t look and feel fabulous.
  • Create a beautiful table.  Remember, simplicity is elegance.
  • Don a sexy apron.  Who says that basting a turkey can’t be sexy?
  • Create a signature Thanksgiving cocktail.  This year, I’m going to make what I call The French Kiss Poire made with Prosecco, pear liqueur and garnished with a slice of pear and rosemary from my garden.  After dinner, as the sun begins to set, I’ll be serving up hot cider with a splash of brandy with a cinnamon stick.
  • Make a wish.  Don’t get rid of the turkey until you’ve battled for the wishbone.  The one who gets the larger piece makes a wish, but she never tells.
  • Turn off the phones.  Thanksgiving dinner is for connecting and celebrating life with family and friends, not checking status updates.
  • Go play.  After indulging in the day’s feast, why don’t you:  take a stroll through Autumn leaves (or snow, in my case) or get frisky with some tag football.  I’m hosting a family ping-pong tournament.  (FYI: My bet’s on the table for my daughter.)
  • Drop the shoulds and create something new.  Just because you’ve had pecan pie for decades doesn’t mean that you can’t serve something completely different.  C’mon…what would you really love to do and eat for Thanksgiving?  You can go out for lunch and not cook a thing.  You can refuse to go to your in-laws.  You can have steak instead of Turkey.  You get to create whatever you desire.
  • Create a Thanksgiving playlist.  Mine consists of great French tunes with a little Sinatra mixed in.  Glenn has added some electronic and Sarah has her hip-hop favs.  Needless to say, our playlists is eccentric, but so are we.  What will be on your playlist?
  • Encourage your family and friends to share their gratitude.  In fact, make it irresistible by incorporating a writing prompt at each place setting.  I create a beautifully designed page by each plate that says, “I am thankful for” where we can write down our gratitudes and share with each other.  Plus, it adds a little sparkle to the table.
  • Go around the table and tell each person why you are thankful for them.  It’s so much better than shouting out a “good-bye and thanks for the turkey” on your way out the door.
  • Savor your meal. Make your Thanksgiving meal an opulent event, not a race to the TV.  Challenge yourself and family to savor the experience for two or more hours.  Slow down your eating and dine.  Put your fork down between bites and have a meaningful conversation
  • Send home a Gratitude Bag.  Give each guest a little brown bag filled with leftovers.  You can even add a little surprise note for them to continue the festivities the next day.
  • You don’t have to “do it all.”  Where in the world did we, women, get the idea that we must do it all?  You don’t have to cook everything, set the table, do the dishes, and make sure the house is perfect before bedtime. I have no shame in ordering pies from my favorite local bakery, asking others to bring a dish, refusing to do the dishes (since I did most of the cooking) or asking the kids to set the table.  It takes a village to keep our sanity, so stop acting like you’re on an island all by yourself.
  • Ditch the Diet.  Sadly, many women will sit down at the table with anxiety and fear of the meal itself.  I was one of them for too many years, white-knuckling my way through the day trying to avoid the temptation of my Aunt Dot’s special apple pie. Then, I’d go home and binge on some stale donuts. About 8 years ago, I promised to never diet on Thanksgiving Day again. Never.  And, I don’t cook “light’ versions of anything.  I’m sorry but mashed cauliflower does not compare to real mashed potatoes.  I’m not suggesting you stuff yourself more than the turkey.  What I am encouraging is that you relax, enjoy and listen to your body (not your head).  When I finally allowed myself to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, I lost the desire to overeat.  And, remember:  it’s just one meal.  Don’t overthink it.
  • Skip the Black Friday madness and sleep in.  There’s nothing luxurious or elegant about standing in line for hours to fight the crowds for a TV.  We have lost ourselves in mass consumerism, trying to buy our happiness when it’s right at home where you are.

Care to add to the list?

Let us know how you plan to French Kiss your Thanksgiving.

By the way, I’m so thankful for you!




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26 Responses to How to French Kiss Your Thanksgiving

  1. Tonya,

    I love this! I am going to embrace my day and slow down and savor every moment with elegance. My favorite line was “your family may think you’re nuts, but you’re not the average woman.”

    I am thankful for you and the FKL you inspire us to reach for through example and your beautiful words! Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. Cheers, Tonya! I’m thankful that you put your message out there to encourage me and all your other fans. You always remind me to slow down, inhale, be sensual, to savor the moment…even while growing a business. Even on tedious days, I try to dress up even more and that makes the day better. THANK YOU for sharing yourself with us. xo, Laura

  3. Tonya, thanks so much for the reminder on enjoying Thanksgiving with ease. I’m heading out the door right now for a leisurely stroll downtown to snag a few bottles of Nouveau Beauj !!

  4. Love this! Thanks so much for always inspiring me. Wishing you and your Family a Happy and Relaxing Thanksgiving. Oh, and I am looking forward to lots of Football!

  5. Tonya,
    Took your advice and bought a lovely bottle of Beaujolais Noveau. It was a very pretty bottle and even though we are not big Wine Drinkers, my whole Family loved it. The funny thing is my 85 year old Mom, who hardly ever drinks, had two glasses! It was the perfect choice, light and a little sweet. It will be a new Thanksgiving tradition. Thanks and Happy Holidays.

  6. Beautifully stated Tonya. Thank you for the good ideas. I especially liked the bubble bath, sexy apron and sharing why I am thankful for each person. Playlist and play are high on my list. Thank you for your soft voice and tenderness. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Sheri

  7. Tonya,
    I too Love Thanksgiving! And I just want to tell you that I am thankful for you… You have encouraged me to enjoy being feminine and stop trying to be “low maintanance”. I now listen to your podcasts as I prepare for my day. Your reminder to love the body you are in today has been so powerful to me.
    I hope your Thanksgiving is full of Joy and Blessings.

    • Oh Ann,

      Thank you SO much for your comment. It is such an honor for me to be a part of this incredible community of women who are celebrating our femininity — strongly, fiercely and proudly.

      So much appreciation for you this holiday :).



  8. Tonya- you always seem to know when I need a little hug…that is what your podcasts are to me. When I hear your voice, I feel the sincerity, and the warmth radiates the room like you are sitting beside me. I am thankful I had the opportunity to travel to Dallas and visit you in person this year and I can only hope that 2018 will bring us together again. Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

  9. Such beautiful thoughts. Thank you for helping us prepare ourselves for really enjoying precious time with family and friends!

  10. This is a lovely post Tonya, happy Thanksgiving to all the FKL ladies! Whilst we do not celebrate this holiday, I am so grateful to be part of this inspirational group, your wisdom has had an affect in my thoughts and lifestyle changes! Bonjour et bisous!

  11. Thank you Tonya for sharing this post with us. Beaujolais is now waiting in our pantry! Cheers to you all and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  12. Like you I love any occasion/holiday to celebrate with my friends and family!! I LOVED your Thanksgiving advice and actually follow some of it, and will be incorporating some more of it next year. We’re a born and raised Texas family and nothing is more important than football. EXCEPT on Thanksgiving. We enjoy each others company, play games, go around and share what we’re thankful for and share communion together. Sadly, some family member have opted not to come without football…oh, well….
    Thank you again for inspiring us to be the best women we can be! I’m so grateful to be a part of this group…

  13. Tonya Leigh, Big thanks and muchgratitude to you for all that you do so tirelessly in this community. thank you for giving your time to remind us to prep ourselves to be our best before we extend to our loved ones. Im prepped and extra grateful today this Thanksgiving more so than ever. I wish you and your family the best of times, the best of memories and here’s to you more things to add to your gratitude list. I will silently raise a glass to you today. We love you to life, Girlfriend.. *clink* 🍷

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