Even though Thanksgiving is about -- for the most part -- gratitude, there's no denying that the holiday season can also bring with it a serious amount of stress. There are extra calories and decadent spreads to navigate, tension between family members to soothe, shopping for gifts amid massive crowds and living up to the expectations of the perfect setting for the perfect meal.
In an effort to help you focus on the gratitude and ditch the stress, we give you permission to stop worrying about the following:
1. A homemade pie crust. No one will notice.
2. Holiday-themed table decorations.
3. Preparing a 100 percent traditional meal.
4. Serving everyone. Buffet style works just fine!
5. Appealing to everyone's tastes. Not everyone will love butternut squash and that's OK. If you love it, make it.
6. Pairing the perfect wine with each course.
7. Eating too much. It's only one meal, you will get back on track.
8. Making a seating chart. People will sit where they feel comfortable.
9. Ironing the tablecloth.
10. Chopping vegetables. If you're totally cramped for time, splurge on pre-chopped picks.
11. Inviting the whole family over. There's plenty of time to see other family members throughout the long weekend.
12. Making everything yourself. Why not try an assigned potluck, or even ordering in part of the meal?
13. Avoiding Black Friday at all costs if you can't stand crowds.
14. Loving Black Friday for all its glory if you love a great deal.
15. Having a vegetarian/gluten-free/dairy-free entree. If enough of your side dishes fit your guests' dietary requests, they will still have plenty to eat.
16. Opting to watch football all day after the meal and saving the dishes for later.
17. Cloth napkins. Paper is okay! And hey, so are paper towels, if you're in a crunch. The food and the company are what counts!
18. Saying a formal grace before you eat. You can say it after, too (or skip it entirely)! Let one person speak from his/her heart, or go around the table and ask everyone say something they're thankful for.
19. Dining out. Lots of restaurants have great Turkey Day menus, and you can start a fun tradition of eating Chinese, like they did in "A Christmas Story."
20. Breaking out the good China. Sure, it looks pretty. But it'll just take you longer to clean later.
21. Having overall culinary cohesion to the meal. This isn't a shoot for Gourmet magazine, it's a way to show affection for the people you love.
Let us know in the comments below how you plan to kick holiday stress this season!