The ultimate guide to your first stress-free Thanksgiving

Maybe it’s your first time cooking for Thanksgiving. Or maybe you’re just hoping this is the first time you’ll prepare it without inviting stress into the kitchen, too. Whatever the case, I have just the meal for you — along with the strategies to back it up.

This lineup feels familiar but not jaded, and best of all, it’s simple to prepare. (No need to start a countdown 18 days in advance.) My menu offers all the flavors and memories of a traditional meal with recipes that are hard to mess up — and won’t crowd your oven. At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is not winning awards for having tackled a complicated, intimidating set of recipes.

Worrying, particularly about something you can so easily control, is not the way anyone wants to spend Thanksgiving (or any day, for that matter). Instead, when you follow my advice, your mind-set will be calm and welcoming. That’s a godsend, because the most important part of the meal isn’t actually what’s on the table, but the chance to connect with the people sitting around it, and to reflect about gratitude.