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The Thanksgiving countdown starts now!

Sunday brought more than dread about the time change for some of us.

November is the month of THE food holiday, Thanksgiving (Nov. 26). If you’re reading this on the day I am posting, that means 23 days until the big day.

And really, it can be a complicated meal to pull off, depending on the number of courses you are serving to possibly a large number of relatives and friends.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You can, even if you are new at this. The key is doing a little bit starting NOW and planning. You gotta have a plan if you are going to be a stress-free host. The more organized you are about getting things done early, the easier the actual day will be for you.

I’m going to being doing at least a post a week (maybe more) with ideas on what to do each week.  (This week you’ll have another tomorrow.)

Let’s start! Here’s some recommendation for right now:

  • Figure out who’s coming. Whether it’s via social media, phone or snail mail, get that invitations out this week. That gives your guests time to put it on their calendar and will let you know how many you need to plan for that day.
  • Time to clean — a little. Usually at this point that means decluttering spots where guests will be and doing seasonal things like setting up appointments for carpet or curtain cleaning. (That extra bedroom no one goes into? Shut the door that day.) Do not try to pull a Frankie Heck (“The Middle”) and start wallpapering like mad the day before. This really isn’t the time for hiring a contractor for a major rehab or God forbid, starting a big DIY project. That’ll just put you in high anxiety. Those invited are coming to eat a meal and see you and the other guests, not to be wowed by remodeling.
  • Write out your menu. Post it on your frig or in the Notes app on your phone. (It helps me to visualize the menu as the day approaches and see what else can be done ahead of time.) Then figure out who will make what. Thanksgiving is a very communal meal; no shame in asking others to bring something. Maybe your aunt makes a killer sweet potato pie or your brother’s kale salad is a crowd pleaser. Usually folks are so happy to not be hosting themselves they are more than happy to contribute a dish. Ask early so they can do their own planning and purchasing of ingredients. Request things that are easy for your guests to transport. To me, something like mashed potatoes — unless they’re coming from your sister who happens to live next day — is not a dish meant for traveling.
  • Start shopping. When I was in the supermarket Saturday, I noticed the walnuts were out in a prominent spot, as were fresh cranberries and canned pumpkin. You can start purchasing now, which for canned pumpkin in particular might be a wise decision because there have been news stories about a shortage.
  • Think seating. Do you have enough chairs? In need of other equipment for that day? Determine that and place your order for rentals now. No one wants to sit on that one chair of your with the three wobbly legs, worrying they’ll be on the floor before dessert.

OK, get busy! Trust me, you will thank me later.

PHOTO: AP FILE PHOTO