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Though it’s the time of year to celebrate and give thanks, we can’t help but feel slightly grateful when the rush comes to an end.

Between stocking up at the grocery store and perfecting a myriad of recipes, it can all feel overwhelming…especially when your guests gobble up the meal in five minutes or less.

Thanksgiving certainly comes with a lot of baggage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that planning your dinner has to be stressful. There are plenty of prep how-tos that’ll make the day go by more smoothly so you have time for the important things…like scoring the last piece of apple pie.

If you’re looking to feel a bit more zen when getting ready for the big day, follow the advice below.

Step One: Get the table organized ahead of time.

The last thing you want to do while the turkey is in the oven and you’re fearful of burning the stuffing is search for the missing forks from your good china. Take some time the night before to set the table according to your liking. And while you’re at it, make sure your guests feel even more special by assigning them a place on the table with these cute and reusable mini chalkboard signs. If you have to shuffle things around the day of, it won’t be such a huge hassle, considering you already did the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively).

CB Accessories Mini Chalkboard Place Card Signs with Easel Stands and Chalk, 10 for $14.97 on Amazon

Perfect place holders, or great for identifying what's in specific dishes.
See It

Step Two: Keep your decorations to a minimum.

It’s always admirable to turn your space into an autumn oasis, but it’s probably best to keep your centerpieces simple. Your table is bound to get crowded, so a modest floral arrangement or some painted pumpkins will definitely do the trick. Let’s be honest: You’re going to have to make room for ample bowls of mashed potatoes, which is more important than a cute decoration.

Step Three: Let your silverware make the statement.

Since it’s going to get hectic anyway, find fall-like plates and dishes and decorate them with a cute DIY, perhaps a painted leaf that can act as a place card.

Step Four: Set up the kitchen how you like it.

Take some time before your start preparing the food to think about the tools you’ll need and set aside the can’t-cook-without objects. You don’t want to be searching for the meat thermometer while the bird is cooking away in the oven.

Step Five: Be responsible with your recipes.

No Thanksgiving is complete without a ham side…and no Thanksgiving is complete without my mother throwing out the recipe to said ham dish. Rather than fetch the directions from the garbage, keep all of the recipes you need under a refrigerator magnet. This way, they won’t get lost on your counter space and they’ll be in one spot (sans spills).

Step Six: Don’t refuse help.

You are not considered weak if you take yourself up on someone’s offer to bring a side dish or clear the table. This meal is too much for one person to handle, so it’s okay if the troops lend a hand.

Step Seven: Get your Tupperware ready.

You’re going to have a lot of leftovers and doggy bags to prep after dinner, so stock up on the appropriate containers and leave them on the side in the kitchen.

Step Eight: Keep the little ones entertained.

Holiday prep is no time for distractions, so make sure your tiny tots have a festive coloring book or another fun activity while you are getting ready. The kitchen ain’t big enough for the both of you.

Step Nine: Don’t forget to enjoy the process.

It might be stressful and there will be moments where you’re ready to just dump the gravy down the sink and call it quits. Make the process fun by lighting your favorite fall-scented candle or putting on some music in the background that gets you into the holiday spirit.

For more Thanksgiving tips, hacks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide.​

Related video: 7 Thanksgiving Dishes You Should Always Make Ahead (and 6 You Should Never)

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Danielle is a trending news writer at Elite Daily and a freelance contributor for Chowhound and Domino. When she's not working, she's probably reading a book or eating a bowl of gnocchi at Frankie's. Find her @dvwrites on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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