My husband and I haven't hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house in a while, and that okay with me. It's not that I don't want people to come over, but it's nice not to have the stress of making sure everything goes right. Or having to make sure that the house is clean. Or paying a huge grocery bill.

All of my family lives in Albany and all of my husband's family lives in Philadelphia. We live in the middle of both families and yet, it's rare for anyone outside of our parents to travel to us. We may be the ones with a toddler, but we're the travelers and we're fine with that! This year will be different, though. This year, we're hosting for my mother and father-in-law and while it'll just be five of us, I want to make sure to do it special and right.

If people are coming to you for Thanksgiving, it's going to be okay- I promise! Realistically, there’s really only so much you can do between leaving work on Wednesday and Thanksgiving dinner time on Thursday, but there are some ways you can get prepped in advance so that your Thanksgiving Day can be calm and perhaps even enjoyable.

Let me start by saying that unless you're planning to buy a complete Thanksgiving dinner from Honey Baked Ham (yes, they sell turkey, and yes, this is what I'm doing this year ), you'll probably want to prep and there are some things you can do in advance to make Thanksgiving as calm as it can be with dozens of people crammed into your home.

  • 1

    Put a Reserve on Your Bird

    If you haven't bought your turkey yet (you're running out of time to get a fresh one), call the grocery store and tell them what size turkey you want (or if you're not sure, tell them how many people you'll be feeding and they'll suggest a bird size), and ask the store to set the turkey aside for you. Tell them what day and time you'll be in to pick it up. Doing this means you won't be fighting with the other last minute turkey buyers and you'll end up with enough turkey to feed all your people.

  • 2

    Prepare Your Linens Now

    I used to use linens and fancy china, but now use plastic tablecloths and throw away plates and silverware. I do this because I want to enjoy my time with family I haven't seen for a while instead of spending all my time cleaning. But- if you're going to be going all fancy, washing and iron your linens now to get it out of the way so that all you have to do on Thanksgiving morning is lay them out on the table.

  • 3

    Find Your Equipment

    When is the last time you used your gravy boat? Probably last Thanksgiving, right? Dig through your cabinets now and pull our your gravy boat, serving platters, carvers and whatever else you think you'll need to cook and serve your meal. This way you'll know where everything is before Thanksgiving morning and won't be scrambling.

  • 4

    Freeze Ahead of Time

    I'm all about making things ahead of time to cut back on stress. You've got a week, which is plenty of time to make and freeze things like homemade cranberry sauce and pies. I make and then freeze whatever I can so that I only have to pull the stuff out of the freezer and then heat it up.