The Thanksgiving Day holiday is a time for friends and family, but it can also be a time of stress, especially for the cooks preparing the annual feast. If it is your turn to host the Thanksgiving Day celebration, you are probably already feeling the heat.

Long before the oven gets turned on and the turkey gets stuffed, you will be feeling the stress associated with the holiday. If you do not want that holiday stress to overwhelm you, now is the time to get ready. While nothing can completely remove the stress of cooking such a huge feast, taking a few preparatory steps now can ease the burden later. Here are 10 simple ways to reduce the stress of hosting the annual Thanksgiving Day feast.

  1. Make your desserts ahead of time. Things like pumpkin rolls and pecan pies will taste even better the next day, so bake those desserts ahead of time and save yourself some time.
  2. Research thawing times. It can take several days to defrost a large turkey, and the last thing you need on Thanksgiving is a frozen bird. Know how long it will take the main course to defrost, then plan accordingly.
  3. Clean out the fridge. You will need lots of room for leftovers when Thanksgiving dinner is over, but cleaning out the fridge now will also give you room for ingredients that need to stay cold.
  4. Make room in the coat closet. Thanksgiving Day is likely to be cold, and your guests will need a place to hang up their coats and other outerwear. Take the time to clean out the closet now, so you will have one less thing to worry about.
  5. Schedule activities for the kids. A house full of kids can be stressful, especially if the little ones keep barging into the kitchen. Plan activities to keep those little hands occupied, so you can prepare the meal in peace.
  6. Set up a snack table. Thanksgiving dinner will take a long time to prepare, and your guests will be getting hungry. Place an array of light snacks and drinks in the living room or another gathering place – it will sate your guests’ hunger and tide them over until dinnertime.
  7. Create a seating chart. Once you know who is coming to dinner, create a seating chart that makes sense. The kids can help, using their arts and crafts skills to make colorful place cards for your holiday table.
  8. Set up a conversation pit. Your guests will need a comfortable place to rest and relax, both before and after the Thanksgiving Day meal. Rearrange the furniture to create conversation pits – it will encourage your guests to stories and catch up on the events of the past year.
  9. Enjoy a glass of wine. Once the turkey is in the oven and the side dishes are on the stove, reward yourself with a delicious glass of wine. The wine will soothe your stress, and you can a celebratory drink with your guests.
  10. Be prepared with leftover containers. Leftovers are part of the fun, so be prepared with containers your guests can take with them. Sending leftovers home in disposable containers means you will not have to worry that your expensive Tupperware will not make it back to your kitchen.

Thanksgiving Day will be here before you know it, and now is the time to get ready. If the annual hosting duties have come your way, you can use the 10 tips listed above to make your job less stressful and more enjoyable, so you can spend more time savoring the feast and less time making it.