Thanksgiving: It’s all about the food. Green bean casserole, fancy salads, decadent pies and cakes, and one jaw-dropping holiday turkey are the centerpieces of most traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. But no matter what you’re dishing up to celebrate all that you are grateful for, the most important thing is to enjoy your time with family and friends with as little stress as possible . This year may not be as traditional as we’d like but it’s the perfect opportunity to carve out a little time and attention for those thoughtful details that will make your holiday both seamless and memorable.  Before you find yourself feeling completely overwhelmed and up to your elbows in gravy, marinate on how you might address these simple yet crucial, holiday party-planning details and take the stress out of the big day.

Planning ahead always gives you an advantage, so it makes sense that coming up with a game plan about what you’ll serve and how the day will go, will help things run smoothly.   While you should plan and choose your dishes early, it’s also a good idea to shop early for what you can (more of your non-perishable pantry staple items.) Not only will this keep you from running around the day before trying to find something that you’ve run out of, but it also will help alleviate the financial stress that can come from a huge grocery bill by splitting the bill up over a couple of trips.  Another thing that needs planning is the cooking timeline.  You only have so much oven space and so little time. Planning out which dishes can be cooked at the same time or in a certain order is super important!  Another form of planning ahead (for your sanity) is to actually prep as much as you can ahead of time. Prep and cook dishes that can be refrigerated or frozen ahead of time.  Chop veggies ahead of time and recruit other family members to jump in and help too!

Another way to save time without sacrificing ambiance is to set your table the night before.  When you think about it, your tablescape is the first impression that your guests will have of the meal and it can set the tone and mood for the meal. Setting the table ahead of time allows a little more time to setting the table with intention – and without the rush.

We can all agree that having children around makes the holiday season that much more exciting.  But, having them underfoot while you’re try to prepare the meal can be frustrating.  Having a small kids table set up with Thanksgiving themed activities is a great way to keep the kids busy and allow the adults to be able to dive into quality conversation and preparation. Added bonus if the craft can be used as a decoration or a tool to teach the children to reflect on what their thankful for this season.