Web Exclusive: Keeping Thanksgiving stress-free

Web Exclusive: Keeping Thanksgiving stress-free

(CNN) - Thanksgiving is almost here. As a host, you may feel organized now, but the moment family descends and chaos ensues, all that organization often goes right out the door.
And with it, your sanity. Here are some tips on how to fail-safe your Thanksgiving dinner both in the kitchen and the dining room.

The most unwelcome Thanksgiving side dish: stress. In the kitchen it can spoil the entire meal.

"It's getting overwhelmed and last minute decision making that kind of bogs you down," says Wes Morton, Executive Chef, Art & Soul.  Wes Morton runs one of Washington's busiest restaurants.  He says the biggest trap for the host is not having a plan.

"Each day you just go and check off your list and then by the time it comes for thanksgiving, your list is done and all you're doing is popping things in the over and putting them on the table," says Morton.

To stay organized, clean as you cook. "You can take a couple of minutes while something is slow cooking on the stove and you wash which is dirty and you can put it away," says Morton.

And don't try to do it all alone. "It's fun to have people come over and actually be responsible for something," says Morton.

But for many families, the drama in the kitchen is nothing compared to the drama around the dining room table. The fact that dinner is the focal point, that everybody is sitting at the table at the exact same time and there aren't that many escape routes. Anticipate what is stressful," says Linda Perlman Gordon, psychotherapist.

Psychotherapist Linda Perlman Gordon says this sets the table for a potentially sour meal.
As the host, try to intercept tension yourself.  "And often it's the idea that you have these high expectations that everybody's going to get along, that it's going to be perfect, that old family wounds are going to be healed and that is just not realistic," says Gordon.

Also, don't take the bait restarting arguments of holidays' past. "Don't participate in the things that would make it pretty heated. Have a little bit of Teflon and not take things seriously, not take them personally, most of us know what the dialogue's gonna be before we get there because they're all old family things," says Gordon.
Swap that stress with serenity and your Thanksgiving menu just became a little more appetizing.



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