House Party makes it easy to have a party in your own home and get exclusive access to awesome products for you and your friends. We provide the fun, you provide food, your friends and feedback and promise to have an amazing time.

Thanksgiving survival: Meal planning and stress management

'Tis the season to eat turkey! And see all of your family, sit in holiday traffic, and start panicking about the list of gifts to get and cards to send. Don't fret - we've compiled this handy Thanksgiving Survival Guide to get you through the yummiest of holidays. Menu planning

If you're cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time - or in the middle of a crazy schedule - check out some of the schedules food bloggers and websites have put together. They did all the thinking for you! Cooks Illustrated has great suggested timelinesbased on when you're available to start preparing. Here are a few more - check them out now and see which one fits your style.

Eating strategy

If you're more focused on the dining room than the kitchen, you're probably more concerned with the potential of consuming three times the amount of calories than you normally do.

My best piece of advice: be realistic, accept your fate and move on. While I don't necessarily encourage you to go for a third plate, this is the time of year for celebration, tradition and indulgence. Chances are, any rules you give yourself ("I'll only try one thing for dessert") will go by the wayside when you're in the spirit. Happens to me every year. Besides, apparently calorie shifting diets (varying the amount per day) can kick your metabolism into high gear!

Online there are tons of tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays (even WebMD has 10 tips for a "thinner Thanksgiving") - but here are my top 3:

  • Start thinking about the Thanksgiving Day damage weeks in advance. To me, that means focusing on "being good" - exercising at least four times a week, getting great sleep, keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum, and counting calories - as soon as Halloween's over. By the time I get to Thanksgiving, I feel alert, active and healthy, so a treat will be welcome and guilt-free.
  • Take a walk with the family. While playing football after stuffing your face just sounds nauseating, taking a 10-20 minute walk instead has great benefits - both physical and mental. Even if it's chilly, bundle up and enjoy the crisp air while helping recover from the overindulgence.
  • Hydrate! Staying hydrated not only prevents bloat but it can also prevent you from overeating. While of course, you'll probably have some festive cocktails or a few beers while watching the football game, an easy reduction in calories can be replacing juice and soda with water.

Managing stress

As fun as the holiday season is, stress starts sneaking its way into our lives when we realize how much we need to do. Since I already covered my diet and health tips, here are some more to consider when it comes to family time, travel and scheduling.

  • Manage your time. Make a November-December calendar and to-do list in a way that makes sense for you. Treat this project like you would a job! Button-up your travel plans first, figure out when you'll have guests, then move on to event obligations, and both food and gift shopping lists. Pencil in your plans to shop to avoid last-minute panic, and fill in the gaps with YOU time to stay sane and healthy.
  • Put you and your direct family first. Honesty goes a long way and compromise is a beautiful thing! This may sound simple, but old traditions and outside stress can make emotions run high when plans change. I know that sometimes I can create stress by feeling as though a loved one will be hurt by my actions, even when they're totally reasonable! There's no need to let this happen. Just communicate regularly and remember that they'll understand, just like you would if you were in their shoes.

How do you manage your time, stress and shopping during the holidays? We'd love any Thanksgiving host success stories!

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']#[/author_image] [author_info]Sarah is a friend of House Party. Sarah held a few roles during her three years with the company, most recently as our Community Manager. This is a fancy way of saying that she made sure that you were heard, helped and having fun. She also tweeted as one half of the contributors to our @HousePartyFun Twitter handle with Jared. She was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, but has since moved to the northern corner of New York City, where she lives with her boyfriend and their sassy chinchilla, Rufus. Audiophiles at heart, they've crammed-in five guitars and way more speakers and gigabytes of music than a little apartment should hold. Her party tip: no matter the size or type of party, put on music just loud enough to cover up the sound of chewing (ew!), but not chatting. [/author_info] [/author]

Hosting a Vegan Thanksgiving

DH Movie Reviews: Awards Season