As you sketch out your menu keep make-ahead in mind, incorporating recipes that can be assembled or mixed in advance and chilled or frozen. Dips and spreads are perfect examples, as are entrées like lasagna.
Factor oven space and timing into your menu planning as well, spreading things out between the oven and stove—and don’t forget about your slow cooker! You can keep mashed potatoes warm or even cook stuffing, scalloped potatoes or desserts in it. Decorate and set the table or buffet a day ahead to minimize last minute rushing. Label serving platters and bowls with sticky notes indicating what each will hold to ensure you have everything you need for smooth service. Finally, remember that the party should be fun for you, the host, too! Keep things simple, focus on recipes you know and like, and know that the most important thing is spending time with friends and family.