Thanksgiving Day Host: Male vs. Female Roles


This year Butterball took a survey of just over a thousand people from four generations and both genders asking them about Thanksgiving traditions, changes and expectations. Stereotype would have mom or grandma in the kitchen preparing a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and rolls while the men bond over football in the other room.

Well the stereotype isn’t that far off from the truth. The survey has a majority of Baby Boomer women hosting and cooking the Thanksgiving feast while my generation, the Millennials, are more likely to help with the clean up. The survey covers everything from who’s most likely to nap (Millennials at 65%) to who is more likely to include healthier options when preparing their Thanksgiving meal (the answer to this one? 7%, so go ahead and pile that gravy on those buttery mashed potatoes, you’re in good company.)

What about the roles in your house? Growing up it was my grandma and my mom preparing our Thanksgiving meal all week, from drying out bread for stuffing to rolling bourbon balls for after dinner. My dad sauntered in at the last moment to carve the turkey while my sister and I perfected the art of sneaking olives and napping in front of football. As time has gone on I’ve been to more “modern” Thanksgivings where everyone contributes (my mom would have never allowed such a thing) and one dinner I went to had the mashed potatoes replaced with mashed cauliflower and stuffing made from couscous (um, no offense, but no thank you, pass the potatoes please.)

I will be the first to admit that there are about a hundred other things I’d rather do than dishes. Cook the entire meal? Sure! If you’ll do the dishes. (Which my husband does. I could go kiss him right now for this fact.) I have no problem letting him have reign on the potatoes (plus I like to live in blissful ignorance to the stick of butter he adds) while he has no problem letting me take complete control of the turkey. And when the time is right, you can bet we’ll both be face down in the couch at some point, fast asleep.

365 crapped out after court

One thing everyone in the survey agreed on was that they didn’t want to cut corners on Thanksgiving if they didn’t have to. No prepackaged meals for us! Everyone surveyed said that they wanted a home cooked meal just like they had growing up when mom or grandma was the one in the kitchen. Worried that you’ll be on your own with all the responsibility? 97% of respondents said they expected to contribute to the meal in some way, be it cleaning up, cooking or contributing to the overall cost.

Times are changing and the Thanksgiving meal torch is being passed on to a younger generation with lots of easy ways out when the roasting gets hard. My generation is asking for more help with the preparation of the meal but it is a collective effort of everyone who has been cooking for the past three generations to pass on the secrets to the best pumpkin pie or even more momentous, the passing on of the roasting pan and gravy boat.

I can safely say that I will still be the one dominating the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day while my husband is parked in front of football and the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special with our daughter. But I can also tell you I have no problem letting him take over all of the dish duties when dinner is done and I’m the one asleep on the couch. Something my mother-in-law can be proud of.

So where are “traditional” lines crossed in your house when it comes to Thanksgiving?



  1. Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    We’ll be at my sister-in-laws’ house, where she Martha Stewarts the entire meal with very little help. (She says she’s going to ask me to bring some things this year. We shall see.) Then everyone else pitches in on the dishes, with the husbands doing the brunt of the work. It’s a nice division of labor.

    • Posted November 4, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Martha Stewart makes me tired. Besides, doesn’t she secretly have someone else do everything for her? I can assure you that our Thanksgivings will be much more fun, especially considering (I mean, I’m assuming) that both of us will be wearing stretchy pants for a majority of the day.

  2. Ellen Renee
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I will be doing the majority of the cooking (my mom and mother-in-law will each bring a side dish) – that is after working until the wee hours of the morning the night before. I so wish my husband was a helper – but he just isn’t. I am always so envious of husbands who insist that the ladies go to the living room and relax while they take over clean-up. That would NEVER happen at our house. Casey – I just love your writing style – found you here last year and have been following ever since. Hope your Thanksgiving is a lovely one.

    • Posted November 4, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Aw, thank you Ellen. And if there were any way to combine our Thanksgivings all sisterly commune like I’d do it. Although, I’ll only have my husband, sister in law and a couple of missionaries from church, no moms or mother in laws here!
      Good luck! It’s never too early to start prep work. (Okay, so it can be too early, but I am going to be a very eager planning beaver this year.)

      • Ellen Renee
        Posted November 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        I think that would be a fine idea – come on over to Southern Illinois! :o) Thankfully I am very organized (some would say anal – can I “say” that on this nice blog?!) so I do manage to get it all done and start prep cooking on Tuesday. I am doing the whole nit-picky house cleaning stuff now to get that out of the way. Any suggestions how to keep it that way for 3 more weeks with my teenage son and all his friends and 2 active dogs romping through the house?! ;o)

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