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Stress Free Thanksgiving

  Thanksgiving is the start of the busy holiday season. It can be a stressful time, but only if you let it. Here are a few suggestions for a  stress free Thanksgiving right out of your gathering.

1. The first thing to do is plan and prepare ahead of time. Sit down and make a list of the things you need to get done. Take an inventory of your supplies, dishes and cookware. Make sure you have everything you need. There is nothing more stressful than finding you don't have something on the big day! Also, plan your meal from appetizers to desserts. Make a list of the ingredients and items needed. Don't forget to plan for leftovers. Purchasing a few disposable containers can be handy to store leftovers for sharing with family and guests.

2. If you are having company at your house for Thanksgiving, set a date with your family to clean the house the week before Thanksgiving. That way you will only have to do a little touch up when the guests arrive. If you plan to have your house professionally cleaned, make sure to book your appointment early.
3. Plan your guest list to determine how many people you are going to feed. Instead of sending out elaborate invitations, consider just picking up the phone and calling each guest to invite them personally. You will get the RSVP right away!

4. Home decor items can get you in the spirit of the season. If you plan to decorate, do so in early November so you can have the entire month to enjoy the holiday.

5. If you are traveling for the holiday, prepare a packing list in advance of your travel date. Take this list with you on the trip and use it to repack when you are ready to come home. Double-check all schedules and tickets before leaving home. Keep in mind that the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Try to leave a few days before and a few days after, if possible.

6. The best time to clean the refrigerator is when it is not full and that means before the holidays. You will need to make room for the turkey and other festive foods.

7. Grocery stores are busy during the holiday, so buy early to avoid long lines and crowds. Buying early will also ensure getting the best selection. Buy some of your food locally. You know where your food will be coming from and you'll be supporting local business.

8. There are great alternatives available for having a carefree Thanksgiving. Many grocery stores sell ready- made holiday meals. Some companies even sell frozen turkeys that are already seasoned and dressed. All you have to do is put it in the oven and cook it. You can also purchase a fresh turkey which does not have to be defrosted. Not to mention, just making a reservation and going out for dinner. When you come back to the house, have a dessert and coffee or hot cocoa.

9. Cook, bake and create as much as possible ahead of time. There is no need to spend all of your time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving while everyone else is enjoying themselves. Side dishes, pies and other items can be made ahead-of-time-items and then frozen. When needed, just defrost, heat and serve.

10. Consider having a potluck dinner. The hostess will cook the turkey. Everyone who comes for dinner is assigned a dish to share. It is fun to share recipes and stories about the food everyone brings.

11. One of the biggest causes of stress is not getting enough sleep. Take the time to relax and recharge your body during the busy holiday season. A good night's sleep will help you to feel refreshed and ready for the big day.

12. Keep the children occupied by creating an activity/craft area. Set up tables with paper, crayons, pens, glue, etc. The older children can supervise. The younger children could make name tags for the guests or they could be shown how to creatively fold napkins. This will keep them occupied and engaged for a while.

13. Keep everyone busy and share the workload. You do not have to do everything yourself. Enlist family members to help out and assign duties. Involve children with simple jobs. Don't forget to get help when cleaning up too.

14. Focus on what really matters. The whole point behind gathering at Thanksgiving is to give thanks and show appreciation. Take the time to enjoy the company of family and friends.

Finally, after the holidays, keep the lists you put together for organizing this Thanksgiving celebration. You can use these lists to find areas that need improvement so that next year's event is easier and even more stress-free!

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