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The Thanksgiving Holiday is all about bringing family together and being thankful for all of your blessings.  However, when you are the person in charge of hosting those thankful feelings can turn into stressed out feelings.  Follow our guide to help make this year’s dinner as stress free as possible!

1. Share the Workload

One of the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving is trying to shoulder all of the work in order to plan the “perfect” day.  There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and most friends and family would love to assist.  You can throw a potluck style dinner where guests each pitch in and bring a side dish, order your turkey from a catering service or restaurant, or ask a helpful aunt or cousin to come over early to help you prepare.

2. Shop Early

Stores tend to run out of key Thanksgiving foods quickly, so make sure you buy as many items as early as possible.  Things such as boxed stuffing mix, cans of green beans, and cornbread mix can be bought well ahead of time and stored in the pantry.  If you have space in your freezer buying your turkey a few weeks in advance will help as well.  You need to plan for two shopping days as there will be a number of fresh ingredients that you will have to buy closer to the day.

3. Serve Buffet Style

Serving your guests buffet style will help cut down on the number of dishes you have to dirty, as well as the amount of set up you have to do.  Simply putting everything in pretty dishes and setting them on the counter has an added benefit of allowing everyone to get seconds without disturbing anyone.

4. Cook Ahead

Do as much prep work ahead of the big day as possible. Peel potatoes, prepare your stock, assemble casseroles or even partially cook your turkey ahead of time.  This will cut down on the amount of cooking you need to do on the actual day and help alleviate some of the pressure felt on the holiday.

5. Get Yourself (and Your Table) Ready First

Unforeseen set backs are inevitable, so waking up and getting yourself dressed (and having your morning coffee, going for a run, or whatever you do to get ready for the day) and setting the table before you start working on the food dishes can help reduce your stress on the big day.  When the stuffing is on the stove or the green bean casserole is in the oven you won’t want to risk leaving them unattended for a quick shower.

6. Set Up Something for Guests to Do Outside of the Kitchen

When you’re trying to get everything ready for family, it does not help to have extra bodies in the kitchen and in the way.  Make sure you have something for guests to do while you finish up so they can entertain themselves without stressing you out.  Card games and board games, or extra chairs around the tv for viewing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are ways to keep friends and family busy so they don’t distract you during your prep.

7. Expect Something to Go Wrong

You can spend all of your time planning out the perfect day, and do your best to execute it, but you will have much more low stress day if you plan for something to go wrong.  Perhaps family members who RSVP’d have a change of plans or bring extra guests that you didn’t count on.  The mac and cheese might burn, or the turkey might take an hour longer to cook than you anticipated. Remember that the holiday is about spending time with friends and family, and they will just be appreciative of the time and effort you put in to have a great day with them.