Thanksgiving is so hard on the hosts, some of it self-imposed. You want to set out a grand feast and give everyone an afternoon to remember. But that doesn’t mean pulling out every recipe your mother ever made for the holiday and generally overdoing it. Prepare a nice dinner and don’t worry about sending guests home with doggie bags.

Think of this as a new era in the kitchen. Cut down on how much you make and the time you spend making it. Don’t get frantic. It’s time for the hosts to appreciate the day too.

We’ve pared down classic recipes and given them all lots of flavor. A no-cook cranberry relish with ginger and lemon never sees a saucepan. Instead of stuffing, we offer a bread salad with kale, based on the popular Italian dish, panzanella. Brussels sprouts are glazed with honey and mustard in a six-ingredient recipe (counting the salt and pepper). Potatoes are scalloped and cheesy or smashed and spicy, pureed butternut is mixed with curry-butter, cauliflower is roasted whole and sprinkled with crispy breadcrumbs, and cornbread is baked as muffins. If pies scare you but you always wanted to try one, pecan pie squares have all the elements you’re expecting in a regular pie but take little skill to pull off. And Easiest Ever Apple Pie will make you feel like Baker of the Year.

Pick and choose from these recipes to shape your own menu, assign dishes to guests who will arrive with their contributions already made (among the maddening things some guests do is to expect space and time to prepare their dish), turn up the music, and tackle the prep. There is so much to tend to when you’re bringing family and friends together and so many complicated and sad things in the world to worry about. Food shouldn’t be one of them.


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.