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Less-Stress Thanksgiving Food Fun

Five ideas to help your family tame the Turkey Day cooking insanity – and restore some of the gratitude to the holiday

Thanksgiving can become a stressful holiday for moms and dads. There's an expectation of a perfect meal, a warm gathering of friends, a spotless house – not to mention humble expressions of gratitude all around. If you've had your fill of roasting turkeys to the point of dryness and yam casserole that no one seems to eat, why not try something new this year – dine out!

While not every restaurant is open on Thanksgiving, those that are often offer the holiday-appropriate fare like turkey – and all the fixings. All you have to do is show up with the kids and your favorite people in tow. Here are a few ideas to create a little less stress this Thanksgiving.

1. Make a reservation

There are a handful of restaurants that do keep their doors open for Thanksgiving. Often they offer special buffet meals with hungry families and tastes in mind. Nearly every holiday staple from cranberry sauce to the famous (or infamous, depending on your family) sweet potato marshmallow casserole often makes its way onto the buffet tables alongside the turkey and a plentiful assortment of desserts.

Rock Financial Showplace in Novi sets up dining tables and couches as part of its Thanksgiving Day Brunch at the Diamond Banquet Center, offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 25. Adults pay $27, seniors $25, children ages 4-12 $12 and toddlers under 3 are free. For those who like to mix the holiday meal with some sports, there's a giant 6-by-6-foot screen for watching the Lion's game.

2. Have it delivered

There are a variety of online retailers that will deliver a fully cooked turkey right to your door. Honey Baked Hams, which has shops throughout the state and is based out of Michigan, offers everything you need for your meal. You can order a complete meal (turkey, stuffing, pie and more), delivered to your door (that's with an 11-pound roasted bird!) for around $120. Or you can pick and choose what you need.

Maybe you've never mastered cooking the entire bird – or you just don't have enough oven space for everything. You can order a roasted, smoked, Cajun or even sliced turkey to arrive the day before Thanksgiving; then, all you have to do is heat and serve.

3. Order to go

Many area grocery stores offer a complete meal for you to pick up the day before the holiday. Or you can pick and choose what you want to make for the big day and let the grocery store take care of the rest. For example, you could purchase the stuffing or the turkey and take care of the rolls and pies at home.

4. Switch the date!

The official day of the holiday may be the fourth Thursday of November, but you can plan your Thanksgiving for any day you want. Does Wednesday or Friday fit better in your travel plans? Or maybe you want to take the kids to America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit and you just don't think you'll have the energy to cook a big meal afterwards. Go ahead and make your family meal on a day that works with your plans versus having it on the "official" day.

5. Serve someone else

Instead of figuring out the dinner menu for your own family, you could take them to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving to the needy. Area homeless shelters that offer holiday meals, such as the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, are always looking for help. Spend your day helping out others and you won't even miss having leftovers. Ask around at your church or community center for opportunities to help. Browse here online, too; pop your town's name and "soup kitchen" in the search box.

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