T_day270.jpgThanksgiving shortcut #2:  Summon the relatives. Forget giving cousin Howie a free ride. There’s no reason not to ask each guest to bring a dish.

I love opening our door to extended family on Thanksgiving. But sometimes I just can’t deal with the prepwork, especially if I’m on the road during the weeks leading up to it. Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two about cutting corners (not to mention stress!) that I’m happy to share.

  • Get serviced. Book a cleaning service. Today. It is soooo worth the extra coin to take that ginormous task off your to-do list. Just be sure to do it now or you’re likely to hear, “Sorry, we’re booked.”
  • Summon the relatives. Forget giving cousin Howie a free ride. There’s no reason not to ask each guest to bring a dish. It’s the spirit of the holiday, after all. And don’t let them choose willy-nilly. Write up a full menu and assign accordingly so you’re left with no holes.
  • Shut out boredom. Planning a meal is enough stress—who needs the added duty of mapping out activities? Eliminate pressure by pulling out a few board games—some for the kids to play in Junior’s room (also good for lowering the decibel level in the house) and a couple for the adults to play after dinner. My fave: Taboo ($25 at www.hasbrotoyshop.com).
  • Pull a Seinfeld. Remember that party Joe Mayo held where he assigned Jerry to music duty and Elaine to jackets and coats? Just brilliant, I say! But because this is a family party and all, you’ll have to tweak the jobs a tad. A few must-haves: dishwasher, table-setter, coat attendant and oven master (in charge of timing all the dishes that need to be warmed or reheated).

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