Happy Thanksgiving table place setting with We Gather Together place card and autumn fall leaf decorations

The holidays are here! Hopefully this news brings a smile to your face and warms your heart, but there’s a chance it also may induce a little bit of stress especially if you are playing the role of “host” this year for one or more holiday celebration.

With Thanksgiving just days away, we wanted to provide you with our best tips for surviving the holidays as you host family and friends. Planning, cooking, cleaning and making sure everyone is comfortable is more than a full time job, but we want to be sure you enjoy the moment, too! Let’s start with these six pieces of advice for smart and savvy holiday hosting.

Know what you’re signing up for

Before you commit to hosting Thanksgiving (or any holiday) be sure you really think about everything you’re signing up to do. This means opening your home to family and friends, cleaning, cooking, playing “maid” and putting everything back together once your guests depart. But don’t forget about the perks! You don’t have to travel, you get to “show off” your hosting skills and you can arrange everything just the way you want it.

The bottom line, make sure you thoroughly think through this commitment and that, to you, the pros outweigh the cons. Don’t play the role of host is your heart isn’t in it. Believe us, your guests will notice!

Map it out

Once you say “Sign me up, I’m in!” it’s time to start planning. Know the number of guests who are definitely coming and who among them plan to stay a night or more. Then, map out the menu. Make a detailed shopping list to avoid running to the store multiple times. Buy in advance and when things are on sale to reduce stress.

Finally, have a backup plan. Does an unexpected guest need to stay the night? Did you mess up a side dish and need something to replace it on the fly? How some go to options that you can easily whip out at a moment’s notice.

Make your life easier with rental items

Especially if you’re hosting an extra-large group for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s not common that you will just happen to have extra chairs, linens and table settings for all your guests. Rather than making the tough decision as to who will eat off fine china and who will eat off paper plates, consider renting your essential items to keep everything cohesive.

As an added bonus, the rental items will come with the convenience of not having to clean, repair or store them until you need them again. You get to simply send them back when you are done!

Share responsibilities

With a good outline of everything that needs done to pull off your holiday hosting, don’t be afraid to divvy up the duties among guests. For someone traveling in, bringing a side dish or picking up a pie from a local bakery is a small request in exchange for everything else you are doing. They will likely be more than happy to contribute in some way! Be clear about what you need and ask well in advance to give guests time to plan for it.

Be a guest, too

This is an important one! When you’re playing the role of “host,” it can be difficult to switch hats and also allow yourself to enjoy the day as a guest. Sure, you may not be able to completely unwind like you would at someone else’s home when they are hosting, but you can certainly build in moments of rest and relaxation. The last thing you want is to remember this holiday as a stressful and unpleasant one. Be sure to spend time talking with your guests and making positive memories that will last all year!

Ask for help!

Finally, you may unfortunately get to a point in your planning when you realize you are simply in over your head. Even the most organized person cannot foresee circumstances like an illness, accident or other unplanned disaster. Remember, your family will understand and they WANT to help you! If you need a few extra hands to pull things off, call in a trusted relative or two a few days early. If you simply cannot host due to one of these unfortunate circumstances, quickly find a backup plan and let someone else take the lead. The holidays should be a fun memory, not a frustrated and stressful one. Ask for help when you need it; people will be happy to pitch in!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year and have something to add? Share your tips or voice your questions by commenting below!

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