1. First of all I checked with my guests to see about how many I'll have. I always cook more food than everyone can eat anyway because leftovers are great to have the next day.
2. I don't like my guests to bring food because then I have to warm it up, find something to serve it with, and find a spot for it on the table. When people ask what they can bring I always say beer or wine because we can always drink it later if there's too much. We also always invite friends with no where else to go. This year a few of our adult son's friends are coming. So that will really be fun.
3. I have already decided exactly what I'm going to cook and have purchased everything but fresh herbs and veggies already. I started a few weeks ago by adding a few items to my list each week. This is one of the best tips I can offer because you won't be part of the last minute shopping rush and you spread the expense out over the month so it's barely noticed.
4. Prepare and freeze some of the meal. I made a double batch of homemade butternut squash soup last week and froze 1/2 for Thanksgiving. I am experimenting with freezing a few other dishes this week.
5. I no longer cook an entire bird. Instead I roast turkey breasts and legs. They cook faster and it's easier to tell when they're done and they are easy to carve. They are less messy too. I just cook the stuffing on the stovetop.
6. I am setting up a buffet but am making sure there are plenty of places for people to sit where they can set their plates down. Buffets are great and save the hostess a lot of time and trouble. No more getting up and down from the table for this or that.
7. The day before set up all of the serving dishes, napkins, plates, and silverware on the buffet. Thaw out whatever is frozen and make ahead whatever you can. Then make sure your dishwasher is empty so you can clean while you cook the next day.
8. I like to have everything ready and warm in my oven and my kitchen clean when my guests arrive.
9. Set up a drink station with a bucket of ice, beer, wine etc. This lets your guests help themselves keeps them from getting into the way in the kitchen.
10. To make clean up easier make sure you have freezer bags ready to put food away easily. Fill up the sink with hot soapy water so guests can just drop their plates and silverware in there.
I hope you all have a happy, stress free Thanksgiving!