Your First Thanksgiving

Your four-point plan for holiday hosting success.

Do Your Homework

plate of food

Endure 14 hours of labor? Check. Nurse throughout the night, forgoing months of sleep? Check, check. Serve a Thanksgiving meal for your family -- with everything just the way everyone loves it? Help!

Let's face it: This task can be daunting, even after you've mastered motherhood, the toughest job around. After all, how do you get the bird on the table, juicy and piping hot, before the candied yams and green bean casserole go stone cold? Rest easy. We talked to moms to find out how they worked though the hiccups of hosting their first Thanksgiving to help yours go smoothly.

Sure, hosting means you don't have to travel, but it also means you'll probably have some houseguests. That can be great (think extra sets of hands to hold the baby), but it also means getting your house ready. One month before Thanksgiving, LaShaune Stitt-Clemons, of the Bronx, New York, begins tackling tasks: "I start working on a color scheme for the table, the guest list, and the number of courses I'll serve." You might need to dig out a good tablecloth from storage. As the mother of four kids (Darren Jr., 16, Alexis, 5, Taryn, 21 months, and Tariq, 3 months), this mom has learned that hosting overnight guests properly requires advance thought. "Start working on sleeping arrangements no less than three weeks before the big event," Stitt-Clemons says. "This helps you figure out what you don't have enough of -- such as towels, linens, and extra toothbrushes -- and you can determine if you have enough dishes, glasses, and serving trays."

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