Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s uniquely American. Not everyone celebrates Christmas and Easter, but almost everyone has something to be thankful for. There’s a lot of pressure to get the meal exactly right, but creating a sense of shared community is what makes the occasion truly special. Here are some simple tips for making your Thanksgiving the signature holiday event of the season.

Make Room for Everyone Together

There’s a long, historic precedent that sharing a meal together bonds people in ways no other tradition can. So rather than landing some people in the dining room, some in the kitchen, and some in the living room, make a way for everyone to eat together. Push back some furniture, make some space, maybe even rent a few tables and chairs if needed. Make it a priority to gather everyone together in one place to share and enjoy the meal together.

Take Charge

No one wants to be seen as bossy or pushy, but more often than not, people appreciate someone willing to bear the responsibility for organizing and thinking through the challenges beforehand. Get a headcount of who will be there – and insist on firm commitments, not vague statements that they will “try to make it.” Make a list of preparations that must be made and manage your time as the day approaches. Consider what dishes you can make beforehand. If the event doesn’t go smoothly or you overlook something important, the evening won’t be as special as possible. Organizing may be an underappreciated way to serve during the holidays, but it provides real value.

Encourage Everyone to Pitch In

Invite guests into the kitchen and give them something to do. Many excellent conversations take place while preparing the meal together. Encourage your guests to go ahead and bring their special dishes. Getting everyone involved creates a sense of shared purpose that bonds people for the day and can reduce tensions. Consider asking guests to bring ingredients to mix some of their favorite drinks. Put guests to work mixing cocktails and make it easy with Rita Rims party cups.