The holiday season is upon us, and many of us are looking forward to sitting down to at least one Thanksgiving dinner.  Hosting this seasonal spread can be intimidating, stressful, and even a bit maddening for some, but it doesn’t have to be!  Here are some basic guidelines to bring some order to the chaos of Thanksgiving dinner prep.
Recruit organized help: Guests traditionally bring a dish or two to Thanksgiving gatherings, and this generosity, pared with some guidance, will help to ease some of the strain of playing host/hostess.  However, if you leave your menu completely to luck, you could end up with six bowls of cranberry sauce and a turkey!  To avoid this possibility, ask your guests to let you know what dish they plan to bring.  This way you can keep a running list of gaps, and tell them what you need.  
Stick with what you know:  There are many classic and exalted Thanksgiving dishes that we’ve come to expect.  Turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and mashed potatoes are some accepted mainstays, but don’t move heaven and earth to stick to these strict guidelines if you aren’t comfortable with them.  We all have our own traditions, and if frying a turkey makes you envision your kitchen up in flames, just stick with what you know.  Make dishes that you are known for, or that have been passed down in your family.  Not only will it cut down on your stress levels, but you will produce better quality cuisine.
Make a map: Take time to take stock of how much space all your dishes will need, and be sure to make room.  You may need to set up an extra card table, find extra trivets and placemats to protect your existing set up, or determine how many extra serving utensils you will need.  This preparation will prevent any confusion or awkwardness that could arise from being unable to point guests with piping hot dishes to suitable spots.
Food-safety tips: Although food-safety is often overlooked in the happy flurry of activity following a good dinner, this is possibly one of the most important considerations you can make as the host.  Perishable foods and hot dishes should not be left out for more than two hours, so before your dessert course, pack up any leftovers and place them in the fridge.  Encourage guests to bring their own disposable containers, or pick up some heavy duty foil and plastic bags to have on hand.
Remember to delegate as many tasks as possible, and let go of any rigid expectations.  Perfection is overrated, and the cleaning can wait.  Be part of your gathering, and enjoy yourself.  A joyful and gracious host is a good host!