Although I already know that some of y'all are gonna make a traditional Thanksgiving happen, come hell or highwater, pandemic or not, if you're someone who, whether it's due to social distancing preferences, your finances being on the fritz or both, would prefer to be way more low-key this year, a twist that you can put on Thanksgiving festivities, is to stay home with your boo and make a romantic day and night out of it.
It's pretty easy to pull off and doesn't have to cost you much money at all. In fact, you might just check out my 10 tips and then come to the conclusion that you should've been observing Thanksgiving, exactly in this fashion, all along.
1. Prepare the Meal Two Days Before
Out of all of the romantic tips that I offer in this article, this might be the best one. Thanks (yet no thanks) to how romantic movies typically present things, sometimes we fail to forget that romance can—and should—have a level of practicality to it.
That said, I don't know anyone who would be in the mood to be all lovey-dovey-mushy after spending all day long in the kitchen. That's why my first recommendation would be to prepare your Thanksgiving meal a couple of days before the holiday itself. That way, all you'll have to do on Thursday is heat up the food and set the table. Now how awesome is that?
2. Get Up Late and Have Breakfast in Bed
Another reason why I highly recommend preparing your Thanksgiving dinner ahead of time is so you won't have to get up early on Thanksgiving Day. It takes roughly 13 minutes per pound for a turkey alone to bake, so if you wait until Thursday to cook, you are gonna have to get up early, just to prep your bird alone. But if your food is already basically ready, you and yours can sleep in, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and have something that I recently happened upon that is a definite decadent palate game-changer! What do y'all know about Apple Pie Stuffed French Toast (recipe is here)? You know what they say—the smoother your day begins, the easier your day will go. Some extra zzz's, a late breakfast and perhaps even some morning sex can truly make this Thanksgiving one of the best yet!
3. Go All Out on the Table Décor
When it comes to having a romantic Thanksgiving dinner, if there's one area where I think you should definitely go all out, it's when it comes to how you decorate your table. Use a linen or lace tablecloth. Pull out your finest plates and wine glasses. How about a couple of linen napkins and a centerpiece for the table (even if it's just some roses in a fishbowl)? Basically, set your table to look like a five-star restaurant. Ambiance is key when you want to be as romantic as possible.
Speaking of ideas for your table, one I saw, that I thought was simply beautiful, featured some champagne flutes that were turned upside down and had a flower (without the stem) underneath the glass. Then, the base of each glass had a tealight candle on the top of it. Easy, inexpensive and very romantic too.
4. Use Nothing but Scented Soy Candles for Your Lighting
Did you know that there's a science behind why a lot of us find candlelight to be so wonderful? It's because the flame of the candle is able to reduce stress and put us into a meditative state. Plus, it's sexy as all get out. So, when you're out making your runs, stop by a local arts and crafts store (avoid Hobby Lobby if you can; they are big time Trump supporters) and get yourself a couple of packets of soy (soy lasts longer and burns cleaner) scented tea lights or even some taper candles (they're the long ones)—or both. Then, once everything is out on the table, light the candles and turn out all of the overhead lighting. Good luck making it through dinner without moving all of the dishes out of the way and getting on the table yourself with that kind of setup.
As far as scents that will totally put you in the romantic mood—rose, vanilla, sandalwood, jasmine, lavender, cinnamon and pumpkin are all great libido-boosting suggestions.
5. Play Some Romantic Music in the Background
Earlier this year, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Before You Pull Out Your Playlist, This Is How Music Affects Your Sex Life". One of the things I mentioned is the fact that music has the ability to affect us in the same way that food and sex does. Well, since I'm hoping that you'll get plenty of food and coitus before Thanksgiving Day is over, find a music playlist that can serve as the soundtrack for what you have in mind. You can never go wrong with 90s R&B (like…ever) yet whatever you decide, just make sure that it's super soft, sexy and sensual.
6. Dress Way Up or WAY DOWN
I've been teasing my godchildren's mother because, sometimes when I'm doing a Google Hangout call with my babies, I notice that the youngest one (who is just about a year-and-a-half) oftentimes looks like she's dressed for church. Whenever I ask her mom what the heck is going on, she usually says something along the lines of, "Girl, this pandemic has kept her from being able to wear all of these clothes. She's gonna wear them somewhere."
2020 has caused us all to become more interested in sweatpants and tees than probably ever before. So, why not use this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to dress to the nines? I mean going way past dressy casual; look like you're going to a ball—you in a formal dress with your man in his finest suit 'n all. Or, go to the total other extreme and wear barely nothing at all. A married male friend of mine once said to me that he prefers lingerie outside of sex. "When a woman only puts lingerie on right before sex, it feels like she's saying that's the only time we want to see her that way. When it's time to get it in, I want my wife to be naked. Lingerie just to lounge in is what's sexy AF to me." Enjoying dinner in a black lace teddy by candlelight with some Joe playing in the background? C'mon, y'all.
7. Serve Aphrodisiac Appetizers
Some foods are considered to be aphrodisiacs because they balance out our hormones and/or increase blood circulation to our nether regions and/or they help to keep us in a good mood. While turkey itself is actually a food that can turn you and yours on (due to the zinc that's in it and zinc increases our sex drive), whether you decide to go all out on the menu or you end up ordering some takeout Chinese or a pizza, consider enjoying some appetizers that have an aphrodisiac twist to 'em. The Roasted Root is a site that actually features a whopping 60 recipes that all feature aphrodisiac ingredients. You can check them out here.
8. Offer Up “Why I’m So Thankful for You” Toasts
As a 'words of affirmation' (and physical touch) person myself, I wasn't shocked in the least when I read that, according to science, receiving affirmations and affirming others are important because they motivate us, encourage us, and help us to overcome any negativity that may try and bring us down. Between politics and this pandemic, if anything tried to push us to our absolute breaking point, it was 2020, and if there was ever a time when you may have been more critical towards your partner, this year may have been it. Still, after all is said and done, with only a few more weeks before a new year, you're still together and that is something to truly celebrate.
One way to do that is for you both to think about the things that you are truly grateful for; not "in general" but when it comes to your partner specifically. What do you appreciate when it comes to their approach to the relationship? What do you adore about their personality? What are you attracted to on the physical and sexual tip? What have they done to make you a better person? Why do you still choose them, again and again? After sharing the answers to these kinds of questions, toast one another. Your relationship has withstood a season that other couples did not. BE. GRATEFUL.
9. Have a Romantic Movie Night
I know it's pretty traditional to watch football on Thanksgiving. Eh, I'm not sure how romantic that move is, though. An alternative can be to watch a romantic movie together instead; something that you both wanna watch (because, even as a woman, some of these Hallmark movies and rom-coms can be a bit…much). It could be a film that you both watched together on your first date, something that brings back feels of nostalgia for you both (Love Jones never gets old for me), or something that you've never seen before so that the two of you can create some new memories together. It's a great way to wind down, enjoy some pomegranate (which is an aphrodisiac) vodka, and cuddle up together.
10. Take Dessert into the Bedroom
I'm pretty sure there's a peach cobbler, red velvet cake or chocolate brownies somewhere in that kitchen, right? Put it all on a tray and take it into your bedroom, along with some spicy hot chocolate and a few of those candles that were on your table. Whether you eat your dessert off of the plate or each other, it's the perfect way to end a Thanksgiving Day that was full of romance—and then some.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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