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Call me crazy, but this is how I pictured the first Thanksgiving hosted at my own home happening: my family arrives to find me decked out in heels, pearls on looking fabulous amidst a sparkling tablescape where the most beautifully browned turkey sits. My family, dazzled by everything, rendered speechless, simply squeals and claps in delight...not going to happen. I needed a MAJOR reality check.

 

First, I was sweaty and frantic, the napkins I washed are wrinkly and need to be pressed (who has time to iron napkins!?), my sweet potato casserole went up in flames. You know what? Everyone had a great time anyway! In the end, if your table is not set perfectly, your turkey is dry, or you forgot the cranberry sauce, the thing everyone enjoys and remembers is the wonderful, quality time spent together.

 

The key to a successful Thanksgiving is planning. Planning the menu, the guest list, the timing, seating arrangements and maybe even your outfit (black hides all sorts of stains)! List-making becomes your best friend during Thanksgiving Day planning. I polled my Facebook friends to find out their successful hosting secrets, here are some of the great suggestions:

Amelia: "Splitting up the duties by assigning wine, appetizers, desserts, etc. to different people so your workload isn't overwhelming. Choose great table decor and place cards that can be planned ahead--It's all in the details!..."


Kristen
: "make ahead foods so you can enjoy being with your guests rather than focusing on the food and guests who don't mind helping out in the kitchen to make it part of the fun."


Stacey: "Good company, having finger food/veggies/appetizers that aren't too heavy to spoil dinner yet keep the crankiness subdued, having dinner in the afternoon, doing something active after dinner/football - oh and plenty of wine for all the personalities to get along!"


Julie: "Having something to do or a good place to relax when everyone is too stuffed from dinner to eat dessert yet is nice" I thought this was a great idea and found some great after dinner game ideas.


Katie
: "Planning, planning, planning! Classic recipes with a few new (but easy!) twists. Red wine!! A football game/Macy's parade/dog show on the tube while you cook. FAMILY!!!! And love!"


Here are some more great thanksgiving resources:

Free Thanksgiving printables, for place cards, invitations and more!
Bon Appetit's 25 Thanksgiving Menu ideas, there is something there to please everyone.
Martha Stewarts "Everything Thanksgiving" Guide
Thanksgiving timeline and checklist
Rustic thanksgiving decorating ideas


Please share your tips to planning a perfect Thanksgiving!