Hi there. We're food editors. It says in our secret handbook that this is 'round about the time we're supposed to start making you paranoid that you're not doing nearly enough to prep for Thanksgiving dinner.
It is our job to induce bowel-churning panic that if you don't commence shopping, chopping, prepping, setting, fussing, mussing, trussing NOW, your friends and relatives will spend T-Day sitting cross-legged on bare cement, gnawing saltines and semi-thawed Hot Pockets, cursing the day you were born.
Eatocracy rejects that premise.
Don't be a martyr, be a host.
Never let these words escape your lips or your typing fingers, "You don't have to bring anything. Just bring yourselves." "I've got the whole thing taken care of." "Oh, I don't need any help, but thank you."
Turning away offers of assistance is a recipe for disaster, even if you do legitimately feel as if you have everything under control. Sure, some people are offering with the hope and/or assumption that you'll wave it off and they can just show up, gobble and retire to the sofa.
Chances are, though, that friends and family members actually want to contribute to the festivities. Some people love having a job at a party, rather than just milling around, waiting to be served.
Others might offer to bring something specific - sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, cornbread dressing, a particular pie - either because they love to make it and wish to share it with others OR because to them, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without that dish. Either way, take them up on it. They mean well.
If it's a dish you also wanted to serve - heck, still let them them do it. No one will perish at the presence of two (2!) corn pudding options on the table. If you're afraid of a little competition, look at it this way: If people gobble theirs up - more of yours for you. If the crowd favors your offering, then your guest will have the (ahem) pleasure of having their own leftovers to tote home and enjoy.
Perhaps you're worried about other people getting in your way, not doing things exactly the way you'd like them done or just plain ol' screwing up your system. Fretting and fussing won't get the gravy made, and it'll just make your guests feel unwelcome.
Either take a deep breath and just let them go ahead and help, or - here's where some strategic planning comes in - assign them a slightly time-sucking task at a location far from your work path. Set up a green bean trimming, napkin ironing or heavy cream beating station across the kitchen or in another room and put them to work. That'll teach 'em to be all irksomely helpful like that.
There is also, and we bring this up very gently so as not to harm your feelings, the slight possibility that it makes your guests uncomfortable to see you straining and rushing like that. No matter how much you think you have everything under control, there's a distinct chance that you're giving off a slight whiff of panic, and that puts your loved ones ill at ease.
Sure, they might remember that your cornichons were arranged just so, or that the pie crust was trimmed to within .005 millimeters of a perfect circle, but they will DEFINITELY remember that you were running around like a lunatic, making anyone who approached you feel as if their giblets were in peril. If there's someone who thinks less of you for accepting an offer of assistance, that person ought to feel free to make Thanksgiving plans elsewhere next year.
And hey - if you're stuck for suggestions as to what people might bring, consider large platters, disposable plastic containers for leftovers and bags of ice.
You can never, ever have too much ice.
Got a Thanksgiving query or dilemma? Need techniques for roasting turkey or just looking for recipes to bust up your holiday rut? Wanna know what one of our anchors eats for T-Day? We're here to help. Post your question in the comments below and we'll do our best to assist.
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