Getting everything organized in your kitchen for this week’s annual celebration—one that nonetheless marks the Anglo-Saxon incursion of someone else’s country—is challenging enough, but hosting Thanksgiving gets even more stressful as soon as guests start arriving. You’re obliged to talk to them, entertain them, and keep them busy and occupied, all the while prepping and oven-coordinating.
One way to reduce your festive stress is to assign each guest a simple responsibility. Get aunt Mary to set the table, uncle Roger to get all the wine and the champagne ready, and the children to prepare the place cards. Somebody else can organize simple Thanksgiving games for the restless kids.
Give them all specific goals; don’t dictate perfection. Make sure the jobs are easy enough, short, and, preferably centered away from the kitchen, allowing you to focus on getting the food ready.
Appoint one dependable person to operate as your right-hand person—this person can coordinate with everybody else.
Your guests will feel satisfied that they’ve helped, and you’ll get some valuable space to get everything ready and have a fun time with your family.
Addendum: When multiple families assemble for large gatherings, there’s a tendency for entire families to sit together. That’s a shame; if people could scatter around the dining table, there’d be more interactions and a livelier event. Bear this in mind while you decide on seating arrangements.