If there will be kids under the age of 10 sitting at your Thanksgiving table this year, consider trying one (or all) of these real-mom holiday planning tricks proven to make things easier.

little girl at thanksgiving
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When the kids are in college, you won’t have to take any shortcuts if you don’t want to. Until then, these turkey-day hacks from real moms like you will save you time and make everyone have more fun this Thanksgiving. Now that's something to be thankful for!

#1 Skip appetizers.

"We stopped doing them because there is always so much main-meal food." Ayn-Monique Klahre, Raleigh, NC

#2 Host potluck-style.

"Last year, when I had a toddler and a newborn, someone else even cooked and brought the turkey!" Kate Bennecker. Carnation, WA

#3 Ask guests with special dietary requirements to bring a dish.

"My vegan friend Jeni always brings a mushroom Wellington." Dora Stone. San Antonio, TX

#4 Have the kids make an easy dessert that can be refrigerated the day before.

"It can be something simple like a marshmallow-fruit salad. They’ll feel like they helped make the meal." Dora Stone

#5 Don’t be afraid to cheat.

"I buy Trader Joe’s frozen mashed potatoes and doctor them up with butter and cream. They’re a huge hit." Joanna Borner. Westport, CT

#6 Serve greens you can prep ahead.

"I make a sturdy salad in the morning, and the flavor improves by sitting around all day." Allison Graham. Denver, CO

#7 Ask guests to bring whatever they need to make it “Thanksgiving” for them.

"For instance, my dad has to have canned, sliced cranberry sauce." Allison Graham

#8 Enlist the kids to make place cards for the table.

"It keeps them busy, and when I set the table I can then be sure everyone has the right glassware. Plus, when we sit down, no one is waiting for me to tell them where to go." Allison Graham

#9 Appoint the kids the official guest greeters.

"They can welcome the guests with a tiny party favor or a special drawing." Dora Stone