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5 Tips to Keep the Stress Out of Thanksgiving Dinner

Why do people always get stressed at the holidays? Is it the rush to get everything done? Is it wanting everything to be "perfect"? Is it having to deal with family members that know how to push our buttons? Most likely it is a little of each. So how do we have a stress free Thanksgiving dinner?

Here are a few simple tips to have a more enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Plan ahead - While planning the Thanksgiving meal, do you plan who is going to help? Instead of doing it all yourself, recruit your family to help. Not only will the work go faster, it's more fun working together. Make a list of what needs done before everyone arrives. Give everyone something to do and assign things that are age appropriate to the children. Before you know it, the leftovers will be wrapped in foil and everyone will have had a great time.

2. Covered dish meal - If you are having a large group get together for Thanksgiving, divide the menu amongst all those attending. The host family can provide the main dish (turkey or ham) and the drinks. Each family brings a favorite side dish and dessert. If you want to make sure there is a variety, provide a menu and mark things off as people chose what they want to fix.

3. Simplify - Instead of having a huge feast, prepare a smaller meal. We all tend to overeat at Thanksgiving, so make an effort to make fewer dishes. Not only will the preparation be smaller, so will our waistlines. Another option is to prepare as much ahead of time as you can. Slow cookers can be used to make all kinds of foods, even desserts. Many things can also be made as "freezer meals" and stored for weeks before re-heating them. The less actual cooking you need to do on Thanksgiving, the lower your stress levels will be.

4. Family harmony - While you can't make everyone happy, there are ways to promote a peaceful, relaxing dinner. Use place cards to put the people who tend to bicker further away from each other during dinner. This will help alleviate some of the tensions.

5. Be thankful - Simply taking the time to be thankful for all your blessings can reduce your stress level. Before everyone arrives, take the time to list all that you're thankful for over the last year. Have everyone share their blessings before dinner. Having a better attitude will help everyone enjoy the day more.

Stress doesn't have to ruin the holidays. If you stop to smell the turkey, and plan ahead, you can have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Planning and organization, while not great fun, can help you enjoy things later once all the guests arrive.

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