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Make this a stress-free Thanksgiving!

Holidays are filled with excitement and lots of activity. And while it might be fun when you are the guest, it can be stressful when you are the host.

To make this Thanksgiving less stressful, really think about how you want to celebrate. Is a perfect meal the most important thing? Is the main thing getting together with relatives from far away? Or do you just want to spend the day watching football? Figuring out what you really want to do will help things go more smoothly.

When you have adult children coming back home for the holidays, the atmosphere can be charged with all sorts of emotional turmoil. Recognize that nobody has those picture-perfect gatherings that we see on television commercials. Accept that things may be somewhat less formal, and be ready for things to go a little bit off schedule.  Lowering your expectations, especially if they are unrealistic, goes a long way to ease anxiety.

If the meal is most important part of the holiday, consider going out to a restaurant. Many places have great holiday buffets at reasonable prices, and you don't have to spend days in the kitchen. Or, if you are going to cook the turkey, you might want to visit a web site for helpful tips, like  Make it easy on yourself and ask guests to bring a dish. It is less work for you, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by what they bring. It can be fun to sample things that are different from the traditional menu.

Allow your guests to help you clean up, and enjoy their company. Use this opportunity to talk and laugh. Leave the criticisms and sarcastic comments out of the equation. Keep the conversation light.  If serious or difficult topics come up, suggest that they be discussed at another time, in private, when there an in-depth discussion is appropriate.

If guests will be spending the night, all you really need to do is make sure that they have clean linens and towels. They really can fend for themselves. If you are the guest, offer to take the host out to breakfast or lunch on the days after Thanksgiving. Or go sightseeing at area attractions, like Longwood Gardens to see the holiday displays. Visit to plan your visit.

Overall, lower your expectations. Count your blessings, and overlook shortcomings. Be flexible, and open to new ways of doing things. Take pleasure in the company of your friends and relatives. And maybe even take a few shortcuts to lessen the burden. After all, holidays should be enjoyed and celebrated. Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to a stress-free Thanksgiving holiday.