Planning your family's Thanksgiving

Oct 21, 2009 at 4:11 p.m. ET

Keep track of everything you need to get done before Thanksgiving hits. That way, you can truly sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Little Girl at Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is a busy time that can seem overwhelming without the proper prep work. In addition to the standard advice -- cooking what you can in advance, ordering your bird with plenty of time to spare and inviting guests -- here are some overlooked planning steps that will help you tackle the big day.

Group babysitting

Prepping a big dinner is a lot of work, and having little ones around when you're doing the hardcore cooking can be distracting. Create a neighborhood babysitting pool so that one family can take a break from prep work to watch the children while the other families maximize their cooking time.

Post-dinner activities

Especially if children will be at your Thanksgiving dinner, plan the after-dinner fun in advance. Dig out your board games, plan a scavenger hunt or prepare a craft project before the guests come so you're not scrounging for ideas when the calls of "we're bored" come from the kids' table.

Get your Tupperware ready

You know that you're going to need containers to store the leftovers, so get your Tupperware organized. This way, you can spend more time with your guests and less time searching for the right lid. 

Clear out the fridge

A ton of stuff will be heading your fridge's way on Thanksgiving Day. Create space by organizing your refrigerator's contents, placing anything you're not going to use for Thanksgiving as far back as possible and removing items you no longer need.

make Placecards

If you're hosting a large crowd, avoid confusion and guarantee that you and your family sit in the spots most convenient to the kitchen for easy cleanup and serving by making placecards and setting them up before guests arrive.

Good luck this Thanksgiving. Remember the many reasons you have to be thankful… even if one of them is that the dinner is over!

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