Eight of the in-laws are driving in from out of town. Since they're traveling, they can't be expected to bring food. This means the host couple has to do it all.

Here's why Thanksgiving dinner is perfect for 10 people: Tom Terrific. The Big Bird. The Infrastructure. Upon that turkey, you will build your meal. So the first and usually the most difficult decision for a cook -- what is the main course? -- is made for you. Now, do the math: For each guest, you will need one pound of turkey, a generous amount that will leave you plenty for leftovers.

The hard part, of course, which you will find out on Thanksgiving evening, is timing. There's a less-than-harmonic convergence that can take place if you don't have a strategy for getting the turkey out of the oven, making gravy and preparing and keeping stuffing, mashed potatoes and other side dishes hot until you carve the meat.

The key to survival is to make the right amount of food (you will want to make too much), know the limitations and space of your oven and cooktop and make only the gravy and one side dish at the last minute.

Okay, that's the cooking part.

Now, the coping part. Your in-laws will want to help (best-case scenario). Perhaps, your mother-in-law will have some very specific suggestions about your menu (we're still being polite here). Just as likely, your guests will want to do things their way and may express disappointment that Aunt Marge's creamed onions, a long-held family tradition, are not on your menu (now we're talking real life).

Whatever, this will distract you from your game plan. Just remember: It's going to be a long marriage, so don't shut them down completely. At best, see if you can prevent unwanted intervention by making some cocktails, like the Poinsettias (see recipe on Page F7). Then steer them toward the TV and tell them to root for the Redskins. Or at least for bad things to happen to the Cowboys. Oh, and need we mention? Don't start drinking wine until after you've made the gravy.