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Keeping Your Sanity While Hosting Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can be very overwhelming. Not only is it a big meal, but it’s normally a big group of people, including family, and a lot of traditions. While tradition is important, you need to take your sanity into account. You don’t have to make six different kinds of potatoes or change the time to coincide with a football game. You need to streamline so that you can also enjoy the holiday. Plan ahead, give your guests the rules. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel. If people don't like it then they can host next year. Or they can bring the six different kind of potatoes.

thanksgiving dinner

How to Keep Your Sanity While Hosting Thanksgiving

With a good plan in place, on Thanksgiving morning you should be calm and ready to start crossing things off your list.

  1. Have a game plan and be ready to execute
  2. Start by determining who will be on the guest list. When you invite someone and they ask what they can bring, do not be a martyr. Tell them very specifically what they should bring. If they have a special dish they like to make, by all means take them up on it. With any luck, this will lighten your load significantly.
  3. Select the menu and keep it as simple as possible…turkey and two or three side dishes. Make your grocery list and shop for non-perishable items. Prepare anything that can be made in advance.
  4. Figure out the flow of the kitchen. How long does each item need to cook, what can be in the oven at the same time, when does each dish need to go in and come out of the oven?
  5. Think about what time you’ll shower and dress and what time the children will bathe and dress. Know what everyone will wear (including yourself). Write this all down, so you don’t forget a single detail.
  6. On the night before Thanksgiving, set the table. Or, if your children are old enough, let them set the table. Engage your children by allowing them to decorate the table with homemade crafts. They can also make and decorate place cards.
  7. If there will be a large group of young children invited, you may want to select a movie in advance that can be watched if 10 shrieking kids descend into complete chaos, and you crave quiet.
  8. Unless having your spouse and children around is helpful, send them out of the house for as long as possible. And if things start to feel out of control, there’s no shame in ordering in a few pizzas and calling it a day. It’s the sentiment that counts!

 What are you doing to make sure your holidays are less stressful?

Feature image courtesy of Flickr

Barbara is a professional organizer, author, and mom who lives in New York City. Barbara takes a tough love approach that turns organization from a chore to a lifestyle. Her book, "Secrets of an Organized Mom," is on shelves now.  More information can be found at, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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Barbara Reich is a professional organizer based in New York, NY. Her tough love approach turns organization and clutter from chore to lifestyle. Barbara’s book, “Secrets of an Organized Mom” hit bookshelves in February 2013.


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