Nope! It's not. Unless you choose to self-medicate, and heavily, there will be stress, simply due to the nature of the beast. Preparing a meal for a large number of people will always be stressful. Have you ever met a professional chef? Were they in any way calm? Point made.
So, what can you do, to at least take the edge off and get to the point where you're not contemplating finding a nice dark spot to hide and assume the fetal position?
Treat it like a project at work - and as we all know; every well-managed project starts the same way...
Make a Plan - A Thanksgiving Dinner plan
If you want to avoid running around like a turkey with its head cut off, you need to plan the event from start to finish, and well in advance. (The cool thing about this is, you only have to do this once in your entire life, with improvements/edits added in over time). Here's a bunch of ready-made templates to get you started:
Work Your Thanksgiving Dinner Plan
Prepare lists of everything you need to keep the meal organised. Stuff like the ingredients for the main course, the side dishes, and kitchen gadgets you don't have and any cool new accessory you may want to use - although that could add in some unwarranted risk as Thanksgiving Day dinner is no time to try a new trick. Then there is the decorating for outdoors, in the house, and of course the table(s).
Get a head count, and keep it updated. There is nothing worse than having a surprise last-minute addition, who has to end up eating on the stairs. You need to survey the guests to see if any have any special needs that you might have forgotten, or are new. Someone is always becoming suddenly gluten intolerant these days - or have converted to fruitarianism or some other unique (boutique?) diet.
Cook in advance
Whatever it is, if it can be prepped in advance, and still be perfect at a later date, get it out of the way if you can. The more items to can cross off your list before the dinner bell rings, the more same you will remain.
Here's some recipes for dishes you can prepare well beforehand:
- Prep Now for Thanksgiving Dinner
- Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes
- 29 Mouthwatering Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Create a Thanksgiving Dinner workflow
Most of us at work need a work-back schedule to figure out what must happen when, who is responsible, and what timelines need to be hit to get a project launched properly. This massive dinner you are preparing and serving is exactly like that, so treat it as such.
Delegate like crazy
A big part of your plan going in should be all about what you would happily have someone else take care of. The more that is prepped and prepared by someone else means the less there is for you to do. It also allows you to actually thank someone on Thanksgiving, and probably get all the credit for their hard work. Bonus!
Then - after all of that, and the day arrives, using these semi-easy steps - you should be in good shape to pull this thing off, and have a Happy Thanksgiving, (and not go crazy at the same time).