I don't have kids (of the 2-legged variety), but I do have a best friend with 3 under 10, and a cousin with a 14-month old and a 2 year old.  I live the "family life" vicariously through them, and I see how bananas things can get on a regular old Tuesday.  Can't imagine a full-blown holiday!  I have enough trouble keeping my puppy's head out of the toilet.

I did find a few tips though, regardless if you're having 4 or 40 people over.  No matter how much you plan ahead, it's going to be an undertaking.  See if these help.

First, don't worry so much about the table.  You don't need to iron the entire tablecloth.  Just do the sides and corners.  Once the table's loaded with plates and food, no one sees the wrinkles.  Also, heave the kids help set the table tonight (Wednesday)...I remember when I was little, I felt so proud to help my grandma get the dining room all set up.  I was her special little helper (still am)!

Second, if you put out a veggie platter, splurge on the help of the grocery salad bar.  Pre-washed, pre-cut veggies might be a little more pricey, but it's worth it in the end.

Hit the freezer section.  Frozen veggies are as delicious and nutritious as the fresh variety, and when we're talkin' pre-peeled-and-chopped sweet potatoes, it can save on a lot of time and energy (take it from me, I sliced into my fingernail while peeling them for my Turk-Cake on Sunday...now my nails are less than holiday-ready!).  Also, pie crusts:  NO ONE has ever turned down a piece of pie because it wasn't a crust from scratch. NO ONE.

Tonight, try to refrigerate your culinary creations in the same oven-ready dishes you'll heat them in.  That way when Thursday comes, all you have to do is pop 'em right in the oven, and have another glass of wine.

Finally, you truly don't need to spend hours on special sauces or seasoning for the bird.  It's just about how long to cook the thing.  The best flavor will come from the ol' salt-and-pepper treatment (and my grandma always rubs a little butter on the breast, beneath the skin).  When all else fails, you always have the Butterball Hotline (800-BUTTERBALL).