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Everyone enjoys getting together with family and friends for a big holiday meal, but sometimes the stress of preparation is almost too much to bear. But, there are just a few simple things that you can do to help reduce and/or eliminate the stress.

Plan A Menu:

Since the meal itself is a vital part of your get together, make sure and plan your menu out at least a couple of weeks in advance. This gives you time to sit down and think without being stressed out due to last minute planning.

Share The Load:

Ask everyone that is planning to attend to bring something. This could be a food dish, ice, drinks, plates & cups, or even decorations! This helps everyone to feel like they are really part of the preparations and dinner as well as helps to reduce the amount of work that you do as the host/hostess.

Set a Budget and Stick to It:

Your dinner will mean much more to if you haven’t gone deep into debt to have it. A moderately sized dinner can be thrown without costing a fortune, especially if you spread the love around and have everyone bring something.

Make a Grocery List:

Sit down with all of the recipes that you will be using and make a list of ALL the ingredients that you will need to prepare all of your dishes, and then double check it. Once you are sure that you have a list of everything that you will need, go shopping in your pantry first and see what you already have on hand and mark it off your list. You are now ready to plan your trip to the store, but don’t forget to check the sales ads for really great deals around the holidays. Stock up a bit for the next one if your budget allows. Don’t forget to have extra essentials on hand such as coffee, tea, paper towels/napkins, plates, toilet paper, etc.

Prep Ahead:

Some dishes can be made several days or weeks in advance and kept in the freezer until the day before. Others have to wait and be made the before or even the day of. Make a list ahead of time starting with the dishes that can be made the farthest in advance, then plan when you will make these dishes.

Have a Plan In Place:

Make sure that you have a plan written down for the day before and the day of so that you don’t forget anything. As you accomplish one task, mark it of your list and move onto the next. I have found this to be very helpful in remembering all that needs to be done. I find that I am much calmer and less stressed by having a plan in place than not having one.Also, if you have special dishes, linens, candles, etc., that you use just for the holidays, don’t forget to pull them out ahead of time, wash them, and have them ready and waiting for your guests. The morning of your dinner, make sure to allow plenty of time for all the last minute dinner preparations that you need to do as well as time to do any last minute decorating that you need to do.

Don’t Forget Your Family:

Don’t forget to include your husband/wife and children in all the preparations and decorating. The memories that you make will be cherished for a life time, and your children will pass on these same traditions to their children.

Last, but not least, enjoy your time with family and friends! When it comes down to it, isn’t that what it’s all about?