With the holidays comes a MASSIVE amount of stress -- you can try all you want to reduce it by cooking things in advance, taking the time off work to properly prepare ... even putting your foot down about how many people you'll invite to your party. Sometimes it helps, other times, it doesn't. With all the pressure to prepare a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, it can make you feel as though you're playing ball on running water. Or like you want to curl up and hide, as the case may be.
Here are some simple ways to reduce the stress of hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
1) Ask friends and family who may be attending Thanksgiving at your house to see what they can bring over. Maybe it's centerpieces or a side dish or a dessert. Every little bit counts, and normally people are thrilled to do it.
2) Have your kids make some centerpieces and decorations ahead of time. Everyone adores kid-made art, and that can take the stress off hunting the perfect ones down yourself.
3) Make a plan. One of the best ways to make sure you're going to be on track is to map out what you're doing in advance. Form a guest list, make sure you have all the things you're going to need on hand in order to avoid last-minute trips to the store, and write down when you'll be doing what. Try doing a walk-through in the days before so you know what to expect.
4) Don't wait to hit up the grocery store. The closer to the holidays you go, the more you'll have company rushing around with you to make sure they have what they need to pull off their own Thanksgiving parties. If you can shop early and at off-peak hours, you'll reduce the likelihood that you'll get into a smack-down over a box of stuffing with another late shopper.
5) Create a menu and don't forget to make sure to incorporate what others will be bringing so you don't have 37 varieties of pumpkin pie.
6) Take a peek at the menu and see what can be made beforehand. Tap any early guests to help you prep some sides and get things chopped up before Turkey Day.
7) If you're trying a new recipe, test it out before the big day. No sense in slaving over a stove, only to discover that the recipe doesn't quite turn out as well as you hoped it would.
8) Get the kids to help out with any cooking they can. This not only occupies them, but gives them an AWESOME sense of accomplishment!
9) Don't plan a 17-course meal. Make sure the menu is appealing to all your guests, but don't kill yourself trying to prepare the world's best Thanksgiving EVER.
10) The most important thing to remember is to not stress about Thanksgiving. It's a time for thanks, a time to be with family and friends, and a time to enjoy your life. If something goes wrong, just laugh it off - you're doing the best you can!
Any other tips for reducing stress while hosting Thanksgiving?
More from The Stir: