- Create a plan. Sit down and make a guest list. From the number of guests you invite you can plan a meal. The secret to a simple meal is planning ahead so everything doesn't seem to demand your attention at once
- Plan a potluck. A potluck can be a great way to share the load, and with just a little planning you can avoid 15 green bean casseroles at your dinner table. Ensure menu variety and head off an all-deviled-egg buffet by assigning food categories to your guests. Don't be shy -- this eliminates the guesswork for them, too. Give non-cooks a chance to participate by including categories such as beverages, paper products, or decorating.
- Shop early. Grocery stores tend to get busier closer to Turkey Day. Plus by waiting you run the risk of something on your list being sold out.
- Prepare as much as possible in advance. There are plenty of side dishes, desserts, and breads that can be made ahead of time. For instance, measure seasonings and store them in labeled bags or containers; cut and store vegetables; and roast garlic a week in advance, then store the cloves in olive oil in the refrigerator.
- Remember -- practice makes perfect. If you're braving a new recipe or using ingredients that you aren't quite familiar with, try them out beforehand so you'll be primed for success on Thanksgiving Day.
- Let your family help. Have the whole family help clean house and put up decorations. Children will gobble up the chance to make place cards, fold napkins, and dress up your holiday table. This will also keep them out of the kitchen while you attend to the food.
- Use your microwave oven. Take advantage of the appliance to reheat food before serving when all the burners on the stovetop are occupied.
- Let the turkey rest before slicing. To avoid a last-minute crunch and assure tender turkey, let the bird rest out of the oven, covered, for about 20 minutes before slicing.
- Serve buffet-style. Serving dinner buffet style saves on both space and cleanup time. Also with pretty serving bowls and silver utensils, guests can help themselves to seconds whenever they want.
- Relax. Remember that Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day full of family, relaxation, and reflection, so don't let one burnt pecan pie sour your family's annual football game or movie marathon.
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