Fifteen years ago I sat on my kitchen floor and cried.

It was the day after Thanksgiving and I was expecting 40 people in my home in about an hour. I had worked most of the weekend and all week except for Thanksgiving day. I had just found out that one of the guests was a vegetarian and I was SURE I wouldn’t have enough for her to eat. Plus, my home is small (and I do mean small) and only about 1/2 of the guests would be able to sit comfortably.

(If you don’t want to know more about my crying – feel free to skip right to the free Project Worksheet download by clicking here!)

I was stressed, upset, and at the end of my rope – and the news of a vegetarian joining us for dinner was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

So I sat there and cried.

I would like to think that this experience was the turning point for my life – a time where I said, “This is it – something must change!” However, it wasn’t. I continued to get stressed out around Thanksgiving for a number of years.

See, I just didn’t have enough time! Between working and working and working (this is before I owned my own business!!) and prepping for Thanksgiving at my family’s home, and cleaning my home in preparation for Friday’s guests, I just didn’t “have time to plan.” Then, Friday morning would arrive, and panic would set in.

Can you relate?

Fast forward to the present day!

The day after Thanksgiving no longer stresses me out. I now have a plan. I know how many 2-liters 40 people drink. How many pots of soup to make. How many trays of “hammy sammies” to have prepared and how many for back-up. I know which items I can cook the day before, which I need to start early in the morning, and how to juggle time in the oven so everything comes out fully cooked and served warm.

What’s my secret?

It’s two parts – one strategic and one mental.

  • Strategically, one year I took 20 minutes to plan. (You can also just use this Project Worksheet!). I created a checklist of steps and adapted them each year. (You should see my Thanksgiving Folder!!)
  • Mentally, I adopted the philosophy, “It’s not perfection, it’s the people – care about the people.” And I let go that people needed to sit on the floor.

Why did I choose to share this story with you? Because I hope you can get some inspiration from it. (And if not inspiration – then at least a laugh!!!) I wasn’t born a time strategy visionary! Not everything in my life runs perfectly. I have challenges with time, just like you. The difference is that I now know what works for me – and what doesn’t – and I choose do more of what does, and less of what doesn’t!!!!

The moral of this story is that planning for just 20 minutes one year had a huge impact on reducing my drama on the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to create a life where I can host more people than chairs in my home – and not stress out about it.

I’m thankful that I can share these strategies with other overwhelmed, over-committed people.

I’m thankful that when you apply these tips you are going to leave a comment below to inspire others.

Oh – and – the “surprise vegetarian guest”? It turns out she ate ham . . . so I had plenty of food!

Click to download your very own Project Worksheet.