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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and knowing you’ve procrastinated (just a bit), what can you do right now to bring more joy and less stress to the holiday?  Remember, we want to avoid holiday chaos.  The answer could be discovering the ONE THING you want to accomplish with the preparation and the meal.  For me, that would be enjoying time with family and friends.  When I focus on this….and how long it will take to pull it all together…it’s time to get real and make a plan. 

Let’s take a look at some simple steps to avoid holiday chaos:

What can you easily accomplish in a week?

People typically come to a gathering for two reasons: food and fun.  So always keep this in mind when you’re planning your week.

Be realistic about the amount of time you can spend planning and preparing.  When you’re completely exhausted by the time you sit down to dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the meal and your guests.  Take it from me…been there, done that!  As you plan your meal, remember to delegate a dish or two to anyone who offers.  Your party will be easier that way.  

What should you buy? What should you DIY?

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Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself.  So you need to decide what can you buy and what can you realistically do yourself.  Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have delicious, prepared food that can fill in for side dishes you don’t have time to make.

This same mindset holds true for the table decorations.  Most of us dream of having our Thanksgiving table decorated with perfectly coordinated china, colorful linens, and beautiful centerpieces.  With a peaceful walk in the woods and a quick “shopping trip” around your own home, you can easily create a look that will wow your friends and family.

How to handle the clutter when guests are staying overnight?

I like being neat and tidy (most of the time), so a house full of overnight   guests, luggage, and cramped quarters can feel a little crazy and chaotic.

Some of the ways I’ve managed to keep clutter to a minimum is to make sure everyone has a designated area for their family’s “stuff”.  At my house  that means all coolers are stored in the room off the garage and toys are  kept all together.

Creating an out-of-the-way private space for guests to keep their suitcase will make them feel welcomed and keep the clutter to a minimum.

We all want the holiday to be a stress-free time.  We want our guests to feel like VIP’s.  And most of all, we want to create cherished memories that last a lifetime as we give thanks for all of our many blessings.