It’s that time of year, when families and friends come together to share a meal and (hopefully) some laughter and good memories. For many, the holidays are accompanied by a wave of stress and busyness, especially for those who are hosting! If you find yourself pulling your hair out, or even if you have found the perfect holiday rhythm, the following tips might help you manage the mealtime preparation a little better!

Preparing the Home

Find a place for some of the unnecessary decorations and appliances that usually take up counter space in the kitchen. You will likely need every square inch of that island, so stash the flower arrangement and the juicer someplace out of the way so that they don’t slow you down on the big day.
Have a sturdy coat rack near the door, or designate a chair or bed to collect all of the coats and scarves. You do not want to be scrambling to hang clothes while the kitchen is unattended! Better yet, designate a family member or early-arriving guest to greet people as they enter, so that there is no need to leave the kitchen.
Short on chairs? Don’t be afraid to get creative with piano benches, bar stools and ottomans! If your table is a little narrow, have your guests serve up buffet-style rather than trying to cram every dish on the table. If you have room for a centerpiece, mini pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, and seasonal flowers look lovely on the Thanksgiving table.

Preparing the Meal

The week before, make a list of every dish you plan to have and take note of anything that can be done prior to the day of. Pie crusts can be frozen, vegetables can be cleaned and chopped, etc.
Start making room in your fridge and freezer a week in advance. Cook off frozen meals, get rid of old stuff and use up as many jars and condiments as you can. Remove bulky outer packaging and prep the fresh vegetables so that they take up less space.
Don’t be afraid to outsource some dishes, drinks, or hors d’oeuvres to guests. If you are doing everything on your own, choose simple appetizers that don’t require much preparation like grapes, nuts, and olives. Skip the fancy cocktails and go with something guests can simply open and pour such as wine, beer, and cider.
On Thanksgiving day, oven space is the most valuable real estate of all. Try your hand at cooking the Turkey on the grill or smoker!

The Cooler – Your New Best Friend!

The day of, save room in the fridge by chilling drinks in a cooler. If you need to keep a casserole warm, save valuable oven space by lining the cooler with a folded towel, placing the dish in and covering it with another towel. Finally, once the meal is finished you can fill the cooler with warm soapy water and soak some of the dishes to save yourself a headache later.
Hopefully some of these ideas have inspired you to get creative and simplify Thanksgiving for yourself! For more tips and tricks, check out the full article here!