Having family over for dinner? Cooking your first Thanksgiving dinner? Here's how to get it done in a (relatively) stress free way. 

Just Ask

If you're having people over to your house for Thanksgiving, don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask your guests to bring a side dish or dessert or even the centerpieces for the tables. A lot of times, guests are happy to help out and for you, every little bit helps and if you don't ask, you won't get the help you need.


The military has a phrase called The Seven Ps. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance, so make a plan and stick to it. Map out what you need to do the day before, the day of and right up to meal time. Write down who all is coming to the house and make sure there are enough places set. Go to the store today to make sure that you have everything you need, because most (if not all) grocery stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, so if you need the French fried onions for the top of the green bean casserole and you don't realize it until the last five minutes of cooking time, you're going to be out of luck and I'm sorry, but the French fried onions are the best part of green bean casserole. Map out where everything is supposed to go and once the house is set up, make a walk through and be sure it's easy to get around before your guests arrive.

Involve The Kids

I liked helping with Thanksgiving and now I know why my mom let me do it. It kept me occupied and out of trouble. It also gives the kids a sense of accomplishment. Kids love art projects, so ask them to do the centerpieces. It will give guests something to talk about other thank so and so's drinking problem.


Keep it simple, stupid. Don't make a 17 course meal, but make sure that it's appealing for everyone. If you know that Uncle Frank loves the traditional meal and you know that's what everyone is expecting and looking forward to, don't surprise them with tofurkey. It won't make for a pleasant meal for anyone. And don't whip out the fine china. If Thanksgiving is at your house and you want to enjoy your company but don't want to stand in front of the sink doing dishes for an hour after you eat, do disposable. Disposable plates, napkins, flatware, cups and tablecloths make cleanup a snap. This is especially helpful if there are a lot of small children. Just roll everything up in the tablecloth and shove it in the garbage.

What are you most looking forward to on Thanksgiving Day?