Smartest Ways To Leverage Generative AI When Preparing For A Joyous Thanksgiving While Thankfully Avoiding Undue Stress

In today’s column, I will be discussing a seemingly lighthearted and heartwarming topic that also embodies crucial insights about the nature and use of generative AI such as the widely and wildly successful ChatGPT by OpenAI. Be ready for a twofer. On the one hand, I will be sharing with you some notable pieces of advice about preparing for and having a wonderful Thanksgiving. Simultaneously, you will seamlessly garner tips and techniques associated with the advanced use of generative AI.

It is going to be a fulfilling feast, for sure.

Let’s do some unpacking.

This is the time of year that zillions of online websites and social media posts are chockful of handy-dandy checklists regarding Thanksgiving. There are abundant recommendations about what to do and what not to do. The advice is a horn of plenty. You can superficially find anything you want to know by doing Internet searches that will bring back dozens, hundreds, probably even thousands of links that profess to offer the best or soundest advice on Thanksgiving.

Into this abundance comes the rise of generative AI.

You would have to be living in an utterly remote cave that has no Internet service to not already be at least passingly familiar with generative AI. Last year, right around this same time in November, the launch of ChatGPT foretold a year filled to the brim with generative AI. Generative AI apps such as ChatGPT, GPT-4 (OpenAI), Bard (Google), Claude 2 (Anthropic), and the like are able to have you type in questions and will produce amazingly fluent answers. You can have generative AI solve vexing problems for you. You can confer with generative AI to seek mental guidance, though use for mental health considerations is highly controversial, as I’ve covered at the link here and the link here, just to name a few.

Generative AI can be used for everyday mundane tasks too. You don’t have to have some kind of earth-shattering reason to use generative AI. Some people only access generative AI when they have a particularly thorny issue or a brain-stumping enigma to be solved. I always tell people in my training classes or talks on using generative AI that they need to conceive of generative AI as a tool to be used for a wide range of purposes and whenever they believe sensible to lean upon.

Voila, consider the use of generative AI for Thanksgiving purposes.

Here’s what I mean.

When you do a search on the Internet to find out about checklists associated with preparing for Thanksgiving, the odds are that you will encounter generic versions. A template of one style or another has been posted to give you the most likely steps or considerations that might normally be applicable to any generic Thanksgiving endeavor. The lists aren’t specific to you or your particular circumstance at hand. Thus, you have to wastefully fidget with a vanilla or bland checklist and figure out how it can be modified or customized for your own Thanksgiving efforts.

Straight out, you can use generative AI to aid your Thanksgiving planning in these two significant and major ways:

  • (1) Personalized. Make use of generative AI since it can finetune and hone Thanksgiving checklists plus planning advice according to your specific situation.
  • (2) Interactive Dialogue. Leverage generative AI via an interactive dialogue about your Thanksgiving plans and aid in refining your thinking accordingly.

Let’s momentarily contemplate those two facets.

Generative AI can provide personalization. You can describe your situation in a series of prompts or entries that tell the AI about what your Thanksgiving endeavors will consist of. The generative AI will take into account your provided description and will generate or produce responses tailored to what you have said. This is far beyond merely obtaining a checklist or flat advice somewhere on the Internet.

Furthermore, generative AI works interactively. Once you’ve laid out your circumstances, the AI can provide a response. You then respond to that response. For example, you might add additional detail or explain why the generated advice won’t work for you. The generative AI will then provide a new response based on what you’ve said as feedback. On and on this goes. You are carrying on a dialogue, which is not something you normally can do when just downloading a file or document from the Internet that has a stale or static checklist.

I mention these important factors of personalization and interactivity due to an important lesson to be learned.

Here it is.

A lot of people who use generative AI fail to exercise the personalization capability of generative AI. Perhaps those people are unfamiliar with generative AI and assume that the AI cannot respond to their requests. They have self-trained themselves in those agonizingly less responsive natural language processing (NLP) programs such as the existing and exasperating likes of Siri and Alexa (whereby you can only give short curt instructions or else they appear hopelessly clueless).

Similarly, a lot of people who use generative AI do so in a non-interactive way. They undertake a one-and-done approach. Consider the use case of Thanksgiving. A person might log into generative AI, ask the generative AI for a Thanksgiving checklist, and then upon seeing the generated list the person opts to log out of the AI app.

I assume you can discern that this is no more than going onto the Internet and essentially downloading a generic checklist about Thanksgiving. The person failed to enter anything about their own situation. They failed to carry on a dialogue with the generative AI. All in all, sadly, the person used a highly useful tool in the most simplifying and underutilizing ways.

When I see this happen, I admit to becoming crestfallen. Imagine that someone has available a super duper power saw. They have a piece of wood that needs to be cut. The person fails to power on the saw and tries to use the blade to cut the wood. Back and forth they go, acting as though they are using a conventional saw that requires brute force. If you saw someone doing this, I would bet that you would be chagrined and crestfallen.

Okay, the bottom line is that setting aside the topic of Thanksgiving, I want you to promise me two vital things. First, if you are a user of generative AI, you pledge to lean into the personalization facility and the interactivity of the AI app. Second, if you know someone else who is a user of generative AI, chat with them and nudge them in the same direction to best leverage the AI app.

You will have made my Thanksgiving that much more fulfilling, thanks.

Proof In The Pudding

I am guessing that you might be saying to yourself that you want to see some proof in the pudding that generative AI can in fact be especially useful for Thanksgiving purposes.

A wonderful request and I am happy to oblige.

Not only will I showcase how generative AI can be helpful in this perhaps ordinary topic, but the chances are that the dialogue that I showcase might give you some new ideas about planning for your Thanksgiving celebration. As I said earlier, today’s column is a twofer. You can read what generative AI proffers as advice about Thanksgiving. Period, end of story. Well, not quite. You can also observe how generative AI is remarkably useful when employing the personalization prompting approach and when stridently being interactive with the AI app.

For more about how to maximally make use of generative AI, you might want to take a look at my recent series on prompt engineering and how to word your prompts to attain the best results possible. I’d recommend you start with this posting at the link here, plus see this one at the link here, and then proceed to my other postings if you want to become more advanced in your use of generative AI.

Back to Thanksgiving, I am going to focus my demonstration of generative AI by seeking advice on these five frequent considerations:

  • (1) Overall prep. Preparations in anticipation of a Thanksgiving celebration at your home.
  • (2) Informing your guests. What to tell your guests beforehand to ensure a fruitful Thanksgiving for all.
  • (3) Cooking the food. Specifics on food preparation before and also on the day of Thanksgiving.
  • (4) Table manners. Suitable ways to have Thanksgiving table conversations.
  • (5) The clean-up throes. How to handle the clean-up after a Thanksgiving meal has been finished.

You have almost certainly experienced life difficulties in all five of those arduous predicaments. Maybe you neglected to think ahead and make sure that the entirety of the needed preparations were suitably identified and performed. Perhaps you didn’t let your guests know what to expect, and upon arrival, there was mass confusion over the food, the seating arrangements, and the like. It could also be that you weren’t sure how to properly cook the planned food and inadvertently had to set aside dishes that weren’t ready for prime time.

The other and often forgotten task is the big cleanup after a Thanksgiving meal. I have a quick question for you. Should you have your guests help you do the clean-up or is this a bridge too far and you are being offensive by asking them to pitch in after the meal? I refer to this as the clean-up throes and woes.

Don’t worry, we will be seeking the advice of generative AI to get these Thanksgiving dilemmas figured out.

Before I jump into my demonstration, I want to emphasize a really substantive point. Generative AI is not sentient. You are not interacting with a sentient being when using a generative AI app. I say this because many banner headlines tend to prod people into believing that today’s generative AI is indeed sentient. Nope. Do not fall for that falsehood. For more on the AI arms race toward sentient AI and what is happening, see my coverage at the link here.

I would like to go even further about the false signaling about sentience in AI and note that unfortunately, most of the generative AI apps try to insidiously take you down that same false path in sneaky ways.

For example, you will find that generative AI-generated responses will often use the word “I” as in the AI app saying, “I will help you with your Thanksgiving dilemma.” There is absolutely no need for the AI app to generate responses or essays using the word “I” in the output. I refer to this as being disingenuous by the AI makers and a form of anthropomorphizing by design. The wording being produced could readily be adjusted by the AI makers. The word “I” can be removed or not generated in such contexts.

The AI makers love to make use of this wording because it gives a touchy-feely sense that makes you believe the AI is sentient. Meanwhile, the AI maker on a wink-wink basis declares that their AI isn’t sentient. They want to get the best of both worlds. Shame, shame, shame.

Another quick facet to know about is that generative AI is not somehow fail-proof or perfect. People get snagged on this. This is how it usually happens. You use generative AI to tell you about Abraham Lincoln. You get a great and accurate answer. You use generative AI to tell you about how to tie a knot. A useful and apt answer is provided. Slowly, step by step, you become accustomed to getting the right answers.

Then, out of the blue, you get a response that has something odd in it. Maybe you notice the error, maybe you don’t. You are numb to the generative AI making mistakes. Much of the time, it doesn’t. You become complacent. You are then caught unawares and have let down your guard. The most talked out error is the so-called AI hallucination, namely the AI making up fictitious facts that look correct but are dead wrong. For more about how these AI maladies arise and what to do about them, see my discussion at the link here.

I hope that those above caveats will aid you in keeping a clear mind and being on your toes when using generative AI.

The Pudding That Shows The Proof

Enough, you might be extolling, show me the promised demonstration. I hear you. No more bits and bytes.

Time to dive in.

I will make use of ChatGPT.

You will be shown the prompt that I entered into ChatGPT. The generated response by ChatGPT will be shown after you’ve seen the prompt. I will explain what kinds of takeaways you can glean from the generated response by ChatGPT. If you have access to ChatGPT, you can pretty much do the same thing as what I am showing here, though instead please enter prompts that fit your specific situation. The use of other generative AI apps that do text-to-text responses can also be used and will produce generally similar results.

Let the conversation begin.

First, I will act as though generative AI is akin to simply obtaining a generic checklist about Thanksgiving. I will use this initial prompting action to subsequently reveal the beauty of aiming for personalization and using the interactivity of generative AI.

  • My entered prompt: “What kinds of preparations should I do to get ready for Thanksgiving?”
  • ChatGPT generated reply:

“Preparing for Thanksgiving involves several key steps to ensure a smooth and enjoyable celebration. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to help you get ready:”

“Plan the Menu: Decide on the dishes you want to serve, considering traditional Thanksgiving options like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Take into account dietary restrictions or preferences of your guests”

“Create a Shopping List: Once you’ve planned your menu, make a detailed shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget to include beverages, snacks, and any non-food items.”

“Grocery Shopping: Do your grocery shopping well in advance to avoid the last-minute rush. Consider buying non-perishable items earlier and fresh produce closer to the date.”

“Prepare a Cooking Schedule: Plan a cooking schedule for the days leading up to Thanksgiving and the day itself. Identify dishes that can be made ahead of time and those that need to be cooked on the day of the celebration.”

“Thaw the Turkey: If you’re cooking a frozen turkey, make sure to allow enough time for it to thaw in the refrigerator. This can take several days, depending on the size of the bird.”

“Clean and Organize: Ensure your kitchen is clean and organized before you start cooking. Make sure you have all the necessary cookware, utensils, and serving dishes.”

“Delegate Tasks: If you have guests coming over, don’t hesitate to delegate tasks. Assign specific dishes or responsibilities to others to lighten your workload.”

“Set the Table: A day or two before Thanksgiving, set the table with your best dinnerware, silverware, and glasses. Consider adding decorative elements like candles or seasonal centerpieces.”

“Prepare for Guests: Ensure your home is guest-ready, with clean and tidy living spaces. Consider setting up a designated area for coats and bags.”

“Check Appliances: Test and ensure that all your kitchen appliances are in working order. Make sure you have enough oven space for all the dishes you plan to cook.”

“Thanksgiving Day Timeline: Create a timeline for Thanksgiving Day, outlining when each dish needs to go into the oven and be served. Factor in time for breaks and relaxation.”

“Enjoy the Day: Remember to enjoy the process and the time spent with family and friends. If things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s okay. Thanksgiving is about gratitude and togetherness. By taking these steps and staying organized, you can minimize stress and ensure a memorable and enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

Whew, that was quite a lengthy response by the generative AI.

You have to admit that the checklist or listing of preparations was extensive and useful. There are some listed elements that maybe you hadn’t been thinking about. Thankfully, you now have some guidelines or noted considerations to reflect upon.

The response was good but not specific to me.

I am going to up the ante by describing my particular Thanksgiving situation.

Here we go.

  • My entered prompt: “I am preparing for Thanksgiving and I need some help from you. There will be six people at my house for Thanksgiving. Two of them are vegan. Another guest is allergic to certain foods including nuts, berries, milk, eggs, and wheat. I want to make sure that everyone has a full meal but also ensure that I don’t serve anything inappropriate to those who have these dietary restrictions. Also, I don’t want to make too much food and end up with a lot of leftovers. How much turkey should I prepare? What should I do about the vegans? Please advise on anything else that I should be considering as a get-ready for a fun and safe Thanksgiving meal.”
  • ChatGPT generated reply (excerpted for space):

“Certainly, it’s great that you’re considering everyone’s dietary needs for Thanksgiving. Here are some tips to help you plan a meal that accommodates both the vegan guests and the one with food allergies, while also avoiding excessive leftovers:

“Turkey Size: For six people, a general rule of thumb is to plan for about 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. Therefore, a 6 to 9-pound turkey should be sufficient. This size should provide enough for a festive meal without generating excessive leftovers.”

“Accommodating Food Allergies: Communicate with the guest who has food allergies to ensure you’re aware of specific ingredients to avoid. Prepare a separate dish or modify a portion of the meal to meet their dietary restrictions. For example, you can make a special stuffing without nuts, berries, milk, eggs, and wheat.”

“Vegan Options: For the two vegan guests, plan to incorporate plant-based alternatives for traditional dishes. Some vegan-friendly Thanksgiving options include: Vegan stuffing made with vegetable broth, herbs, and vegetables. Mashed potatoes made with dairy-free butter and plant-based milk. Gravy made from vegetable broth and flour or a plant-based alternative. Roasted vegetables, salads, or vegan casseroles. Vegan dessert options, such as pumpkin pie made with a dairy-free crust and coconut milk.”

“Leftovers: To minimize leftovers, consider making smaller portions of each dish. If you do have leftovers, provide containers for guests to take home, or plan to repurpose them into new meals in the following days.”

“Communicate: Clearly communicate with your guests about the menu and ask for their input to ensure everyone feels included and accommodated.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

Take a close look at the reply by the generative AI.

I got an indication that I should anticipate that about 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person is required and therefore, in my case, a 6 to 9-pound turkey should be sufficient. That’s helpful personalization.

I had mentioned that two of my guests are vegan. The preparation suggestion by the generative AI was that I can prepare special dishes for them. The one about making gravy made from vegetable broth and flour or a plant-based alternative is useful. I hadn’t been thinking beforehand about a special gravy to be accommodating to their dining preferences. A nifty personalization.

Next, I have found useful the act of letting my guests know beforehand what to expect when they come over for Thanksgiving. I am not a fan of unsettling surprises. Better to be safe than sorry.

I will see if the generative AI can compose some emails that I can send to my guests. I won’t show you all of the generated emails due to space constraints herein. The essence of showing two such missives should be sufficient.

  • My entered prompt: “You have said that I should communicate with each of my guests about the menu. Please prepare a brief email that I can send separately to each person and that is personalized to them. You are to number the email messages and indicate what the particulars are for each of the six guests.”
  • ChatGPT generated reply (excerpted for space):

“Certainly! Here are six personalized email templates for each of your Thanksgiving guests:”

“1. Guest with Food Allergies:”

“Subject: Thanksgiving Menu – Ensuring a Safe and Delicious Meal”

“Dear [Guest’s Name],”

“I hope this message finds you well! I’m eagerly looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with you. To make sure our meal is enjoyable and safe for everyone, I’d like to check in about any specific food allergies you may have. Please let me know if there are any ingredients I should avoid in the dishes, and I’ll make sure to accommodate your needs.”

“Thank you so much, and I can’t wait to share a wonderful Thanksgiving meal together!”

“Warm regards,”

“[Your Name]”

“6. Guest #6 (for general guests without dietary restrictions):”

“Subject: Thanksgiving Countdown – Your Favorites?”

“Dear [Guest’s Name],”

“I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here! As I finalize the menu, I want to make sure it includes dishes that you enjoy. Are there any particular Thanksgiving foods or flavors that you love? Your input will help make our celebration even more special.”

“Thanks, and can’t wait to gather around the table with you!”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

One beneficial aspect of those emails is that each one is tailored.

I mention this because one year I sent out the same email to everyone on my guest list. Believe it or not, some felt snubbed that I didn’t take the time to write them a personalized message. Yikes, I thought, I am already hosting them and they have the nerve to be upset that my emails aren’t personal enough.

Anyway, the generative AI did this for me and I can rest easy that I won’t get a prolonged nasty reply that my emails were blasted out. Here’s a related AI ethics question for you (I discuss extensively in my column postings the crucial nature of Responsible AI and the ethics of AI, see the link here). If I use generative AI to compose my emails, am I ethically required to inform the people receiving the emails that I didn’t write them and that the generative AI actually did the compositions? Some say that there is no need for me to alert the receivers, while others insist that I must do so. Mull that over during your Thanksgiving meal or bring it up at the dining table, if you dare.

My next prompt is going to be about a detailed timeline. The earlier response by ChatGPT indicated I should create a timeline. No need for me to do so when I have generative AI at my fingertips.

Here it is.

  • My entered prompt: “You mentioned that I should put together a timeline for doing the cooking on Thanksgiving. I am not sure what such a timeline would look like. Can you provide me a timeline that is based on what I’ve told you so far about my Thanksgiving meal?”
  • ChatGPT generated reply (excerpted for space):

“Certainly! Creating a Thanksgiving cooking timeline will help you stay organized and ensure that everything is ready to be served on time. Here’s a sample timeline based on the information you’ve shared:”

“Thanksgiving Day Cooking Timeline:”

“8:00 AM – 9:00 AM:”

“Set the table with dinnerware, glasses, and any decorations. Double-check that you have all the necessary cooking utensils and equipment.”

“9:30 AM – 10:30 AM:”

“Start preparing any dishes that can be made ahead of time. Vegan stuffing (leave baking for later). Chop vegetables for side dishes.”

“10:30 AM – 11:30 AM:”

“Begin preparing the turkey. Preheat the oven. Season and stuff the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven.”

“12:00 PM – 1:00 PM:”

“Prepare and cook side dishes. Mashed potatoes (keep warm in a covered dish). Vegan side dishes. Non-allergenic side dishes.”

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM:

“Check on the turkey and baste if necessary. Prepare any remaining side dishes.”

“3:00 PM – 4:00 PM:”

“Prepare and cook remaining dishes. Make gravy. Roast vegetables. Warm up any pre-made dishes.”

“4:00 PM – 5:00 PM:”

“Take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest. Finish any last-minute preparations. Prepare drinks and set up a beverage station.”

“5:30 PM – 6:00 PM:”

“Carve the turkey. Warm up any dishes that cooled while resting. Double-check that all dishes are placed on the serving table.”

“6:00 PM:”

“Gather everyone to the table and give thanks. Enjoy the Thanksgiving meal!”

“Remember to be flexible with the timeline and adjust it based on your specific situation and the pace at which you work. This timeline is a general guide, and you may need to make slight modifications based on your kitchen setup and the specific recipes you’re using. Having a plan in place will help you manage your time effectively and ensure a smooth Thanksgiving celebration.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

I could either use the timeline as shown, or I could tell the generative AI to further refine the timeline based on other nuances that pertain to my Thanksgiving efforts.

Moving on, there is another grandiose topic that I want to see what generative AI advises about. You have undoubtedly gone to Thanksgiving meals that started splendidly and then things got rockily derailed into the depths of anger and despair based on heated topics brought up during the meal. This happens all the time. Sometimes the tiniest of a simple spark or smarmy comment can ruin the entire meal for all concerned.

Let’s see what generative AI says about a potential firestorm.

  • My entered prompt: “I am worried that during the Thanksgiving meal, we might have some of the guests get into arguments over politics or other contentious topics. What can I do to try and keep the discussions from veering into high tempers and angry yelling?”
  • ChatGPT generated reply (excerpted for space):

“It’s understandable that you want to create a positive and enjoyable atmosphere during Thanksgiving. To prevent discussions from becoming heated and maintain a harmonious environment, consider implementing the following strategies:”

“Establish Ground Rules: Before the meal, consider addressing the entire group and setting some ground rules for discussions. Encourage respectful and open dialogue while discouraging personal attacks or raised voices.”

“Diversify Topics: Encourage a variety of conversation topics that are less likely to be contentious. Consider discussing positive and neutral subjects such as family stories, hobbies, travel, or shared interests.”

“Seat Guests Strategically: Consider the seating arrangement to prevent individuals with known opposing views from sitting directly across from each other. Mix up the seating so that guests with differing opinions are dispersed throughout the table.”

“Have Conversation Starters: Prepare some light and positive conversation starters that can redirect discussions if they start becoming heated. These could be topics related to gratitude, recent positive news, or shared experiences.”

“Provide Entertainment: Have some entertainment options available, such as games, music, or a movie, to shift the focus away from potentially contentious discussions.”

“Create a Neutral Space: Designate a specific area in your home, such as a living room or outdoor space, where guests can retreat if they need a break from the main table. This allows individuals to step away if they feel a conversation is becoming too intense.”

“Stay Calm and Positive: As the host, your attitude can set the tone for the gathering. Stay positive, avoid taking sides in discussions, and model the behavior you’d like to see in your guests. Remember, Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and coming together. While differences of opinion are natural, fostering a respectful and inclusive environment will contribute to a more enjoyable celebration for everyone.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

I liked the suggestions.

Some of them are perhaps common sense. The difficulty is that a lot of people do not seem to exhibit common sense these days, sorry to say.

For my Thanksgiving, I already know that one of my guests is a fervent troublemaker. I cannot sleep at night in anticipation of this person turning my joyous Thanksgiving into a devastating ugly verbal slugfest.

What can I do?

It is worth asking generative AI about what to do.

  • My entered prompt: “One of the guests is a loud know-it-all and always insists on dominating all discussions. Even if I tell the whole group at the start to please be civil and polite, he won’t be. I would just as soon that he not attend, but he is a relative and he needs to be included. I have no idea what to do to keep him from ruining the entire Thanksgiving meal. I am at my wit’s end. What do you advise?”
  • ChatGPT generated reply (excerpted for space):

“Dealing with a dominating and disruptive guest can indeed be challenging, especially during a family gathering like Thanksgiving. Here are some strategies to help manage the situation and ensure a more harmonious celebration:”

“Private Conversation: Have a private conversation with the individual before the event. Express your concerns in a gentle and non-confrontational manner. Let them know that you want everyone to feel comfortable and included and ask for their cooperation in maintaining a positive atmosphere.”

“Set Expectations Clearly: Prior to the event, consider sending a follow-up message to all guests, reiterating the importance of maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment. Politely remind everyone to allow each person the opportunity to speak and share their thoughts.”

“Moderate Discussions: As the host, take an active role in moderating discussions. If you notice the dominating guest taking over, gently intervene by redirecting the conversation or inviting others to share their perspectives.”

“Encourage Group Participation: Plan activities or games that involve everyone, ensuring that there are opportunities for group participation. This can help shift the focus away from one dominant individual.”

“Enlist Help from Others: Ask supportive family members to help facilitate discussions and encourage participation from everyone. Sometimes having multiple voices advocating for a more inclusive atmosphere can be effective.”

“Prepare Diversion Tactics: Have some lighthearted and engaging topics or activities ready to divert attention when needed. This can help diffuse tense moments and shift the focus in a positive direction.

Remember, maintaining a positive atmosphere requires a delicate balance. While it’s important to address the issue, approach it with empathy and a focus on fostering an inclusive and enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration for everyone.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

I am definitely going to try some of those tips and techniques.

Shifting gears, I believe that I have enough right now on the Thanksgiving mainstay. I want to concentrate on the tricky clean-up phase of Thanksgiving. Is it insulting to ask guests to aid in cleaning up? If I don’t ask, what do I do if people volunteer anyway? Etc.

Worth seeing what generative AI comes up with on this knotty topic.

  • My entered prompt: “After we have all finished the Thanksgiving meal, I am wondering if it is permissible to have me ask my guests to assist in cleaning up. This might include helping to bring the dishes to the kitchen. Maybe I could have some of them aid in washing the dishes. But would this be considered impolite to ask my guests to help clean up? Also, what else could some of them do to aid in the clean-up other than washing dishes?”
  • ChatGPT generated reply:

“It’s absolutely acceptable to ask your guests for assistance with the clean-up after Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you’ve hosted a larger gathering. Many people are more than willing to contribute, and it can make the post-meal process more efficient and enjoyable for everyone. Here are some tips and suggestions:”

“Ask Politely: Frame your request in a polite and appreciative manner. For example, you can say, “I hope everyone enjoyed the meal! If anyone is willing to lend a hand with clean-up, I would greatly appreciate it. Let’s make this a team effort!”

“Express Appreciation: Make it clear that you appreciate their help. Acknowledge that hosting a gathering involves a lot of work, and their assistance will make the clean-up process faster and more manageable.”

“Delegate Specific Tasks: Instead of making a general request, delegate specific tasks based on your guests’ preferences or abilities. Some may be more willing to wash dishes, while others might prefer clearing the table, packing leftovers, or wiping down surfaces.”

“Turn it Into a Social Activity: Make clean-up a social activity by playing music or engaging in light conversation. This can turn what might seem like a chore into a more enjoyable and communal experience.”

“Prepare Ahead: Consider preparing for the clean-up by having a designated space for dirty dishes, trash bags readily available, and a plan for storing leftovers. The more organized you are, the smoother the process will be.”

“Be Flexible: Be understanding if some guests are unable to help due to physical limitations, health concerns, or other reasons. Never make anyone feel obligated; participation should be voluntary.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

You might agree with those points. I realize that some of you might not agree or at least have trepidations about some of the answers. In that case, you would ask the generative AI and continue an interactive pursuit to your heart’s content.

I do have one aspect that I need clarification on. Of the people coming, one is a child. Maybe I should intentionally not include the child in the clean-up process. But, then again, excluding the child seems untoward and might be worse than simply including the child.

Let’s find out.

  • My entered prompt: “One of the guests is a child. The child is 8 years old. I am concerned that asking the child to assist in clean-up could be a big problem since they might drop plates or glass cups. On the other hand, if I don’t have the child participate in the clean-up, they will feel left out and probably get upset. Should I just tell the child to go and watch TV or use their smartphone to watch videos?”
  • ChatGPT generated reply (excerpted for space):

“Involving children in the clean-up process can be a positive and educational experience, but it’s important to consider their age and abilities. While it might not be suitable to assign them tasks that involve handling fragile items, there are age-appropriate ways for them to contribute without feeling left out. Here are some suggestions:”

“Designate Child-Friendly Tasks: Assign tasks that are age-appropriate and safe for the child. For example, they could help clear non-breakable items like napkins, plastic utensils, or non-breakable dishes.”

“Create a “Special Helper” Role: Make the child feel special by giving them a specific “helper” role. It could be something like being in charge of organizing the leftover containers or collecting items for recycling.”

“Engage in Playful Clean-Up: Turn clean-up into a game or make it more enjoyable by playing music. Set a timer and challenge the child to complete a task before the timer goes off.”

“Supervise Carefully: If there are breakable items involved, consider having an adult supervise the child during clean-up to ensure safety. This way, the child can still participate without the risk of accidents.”

“Express Appreciation: Regardless of the tasks assigned, express your gratitude and appreciation for their help. Let them know how important and valuable their contribution is to the overall effort.”

“Consider Age-Appropriate Rewards: Consider age-appropriate incentives or rewards for their efforts. It could be something simple like choosing a dessert or getting to pick a game to play after clean-up.”

“Be Flexible: If the child expresses discomfort or doesn’t want to participate, be flexible and understanding. It’s important to create a positive experience rather than forcing participation.

Avoid suggesting activities like watching TV or using a smartphone immediately after the meal, as it’s essential to encourage social interactions and engagement. With thoughtful consideration of age-appropriate tasks, you can include the child in the clean-up process in a way that is both safe and enjoyable for them.”

End of ChatGPT generated reply.

I favor the idea expressed that it is likely prudent and proper to go ahead and include the child in the clean-up.

The key is to plan for this beforehand. Another key is to remain flexible and understanding. That’s a point that can easily get lost in the fog of war that surrounds the enactment of a real-time Thanksgiving celebration.

Conclusion

I trust that you feel comfortable that you got a twofer here.

First, the suggestions or advice underlying Thanksgiving are useful by themselves, pretty much on a standalone basis.

Even if generative AI had not been used, I believe these same remarks would be handy. In this case, they came from generative AI. You might likely find some GPTs that do this same rundown on helping with Thanksgiving, see my coverage of OpenAI’s GPTs for your money-making desires, at the link here and the link here.

As I said earlier, this was not a sign of sentience. The generative AI is based on computational pattern matching. Zillions of text narratives on the web were initially scanned and used to do pattern matching on what humans have to say. The responses I am getting from the data-trained generative AI are based on a kind of mimicry of what humans have expressed.

Second, you can hopefully discern that my prompting toward personalization and my interactive dialogue aided in making the results more useful to my circumstances. I could have gone much deeper into the specifics of my Thanksgiving planning, but I believe the above provides enough of a glimpse to illustrate the personalization and the interactivity.

Here’s a piece of human advice for you.

Do not enter any private or sensitive confidential information into generative AI. Per my ongoing column coverage on the lack of privacy when using generative AI, see the link here, be cautious when you describe your particular circumstances to an AI app. The AI makers tend to have in their software usage licenses that they can review your prompts by their AI developers and AI testers. They also reserve the right to use your prompts to further data-train their AI. All in all, your best bet is to avoid entering anything that you would not want to see on the nightly news if you know what I mean.

Use generative AI mindfully and with astute alertness.

Well, I said this was a twofer. Let’s add one more. The third element is one that I express to you sincerely, and please know I haven’t used any semblance of AI to assist me with:

  • May you have good fortune, may your troubles be few, and may your Thanksgiving be filled with happiness and joy.

Happy holidays to you all.

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