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Oh boy, we all know the feeling of the looming holidays. It's a mixture of emotions, isn't it? While one of the emotions can be excitement and joy...often times we also feel stress around getting everything done on time and done right. Well, this year needs to be different. This year you need to allow yourself let go of perfection and relax into a most enjoyable holiday. Here are 10 tips to ensure you (and your guests) have a great day!

1) Make it a potluck. There are plenty of reasons to do this but let me just mention the obvious: the first Thanksgiving was a potluck, right? Why not just stay with that theme? Not to mention that everyone wants to feel helpful and this is the perfect way to ensure that everybody gets to do their part in creating the meal. Assign every dish out (unless there are one or two you want to make) so you can focus on preparing your home for guests.

2) Don't want to delegate so much of the cooking? That's fine...but go ahead and do yourself a HUGE favor by measuring out all the ingredients ahead of time. This is a big one because when you're in the thick of it cooking-wise, the time saved by pre-measuring is priceless.

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3)  Prewash & chop your veggies. Because vegetable sides and salads make up a large part of the dinner, you will save some time by prepping these fresh ingredients before the day of. You can even buy prechopped veggies or use the salad bar at your local grocery store if you're in a pinch.

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4) Enjoy your meal buffet style! Buffet style dining is a great choice if you prefer a laid-back, casual atmosphere over a formal dinner with multiple courses.

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5) Save oven space by utilizing the Crock-Pot, pressure cooker, and stove-top in addition to the oven on the big day. Go ahead and keep gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. warm in the crock pot!

6) Save precious refrigerator space! Use a cooler for drinks and save room for foods that need to stay chilled to avoid constantly rearranging the fridge! BRILLIANT! 

7) Make the cranberry sauce a day or two ahead. Cranberry sauce is something that gets better with age, so save yourself some time on the day of and make it a couple of days ahead of time. Here is a foolproof recipe courtesy of Delish!

8) Put the kids to work! Get them involved in the whole experience by helping set the table, measuring ingredients and filling the cooler with ice. Even if it's just picking up their toys or straightening the living room, the little things add up to big-time help.

9) Be open to semi-homemade items. Not everything has to be made from scratch, especially when you're cooking for a crowd. Remember Sandra Lee? She had a leg up on this whole concept, didn't she?

10) Skip baking altogether. Turn to your local bakeries for some delicious handmade desserts. Why not give yourself a break this year? Our local bakery, Blackbird Bakery, has some of the most delectable treats you will ever have! Flavors like Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake and Carmelized Apple Pie are off the charts. You can even order pie crust from them! Get your orders in now and you'll be glad you did! 

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We should all remember that ultimately, Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks and appreciation to the gifts we have, the people in our lives and the grace we are surrounded with, not the perfection of the event.  Cheers!

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