Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy bountiful meals and spend time with friends and family. But, when you’re the host, sometimes it doesn’t feel quite as quaint.
Sure, it’s an honor to host. You get to prepare a menu, show off your home and control the flow of a nice, relaxing day.
But it’s a long road to that picturesque table setting and steaming turkey. Here are a few tips to help you prepare your home for the holiday.
The Weekend Before
- Confirm your guest list to have the best headcount possible. That will make shopping and setting the table easier.
- Decide on a menu. Consider a dish or two that you can prepare the weekend before without sacrificing freshness or flavor, such as cranberry sauce. And look for other recipes that could be made the day before (Here’s a list of day before recipes from Food & Wine Magazine).
- Make a grocery list. And be sure to double check staples you typically keep around that may be expired or that you may not have enough of, such as spices, butter and flour. Got enough tin foil and plastic products, toilet paper and paper towels? Pick up any wine, champagne or other drinks you plan to serve. In general, do the thing that we all tell ourselves we should do — take care of as much shopping as possible before it gets really crowded.
- If you haven’t already, consider buying pumpkins and mums to add color and holiday spirit. Water any other plants to make sure they’re in good health for the holiday gathering.
- Check carpets, rugs and floors for stains and odors. If necessary, steam clean it or hire a professional carpet cleaner. This isn’t something you want to put off until the last minute.
- Do a head-to-toe assessment of your house and clean as needed. That’s likely to include dusting chandeliers and cleaning out the oven, microwave and fridge. Having the tough jobs done a few days ahead will make spot cleaning the day before a breeze.
- Get the guest room ready with fresh linens if any of your family or friends will be spending the night.
The Day Before
- Set the table, complete with a Thanksgiving centerpiece and decorations. It’s typically a fun chore that lets you show a little style, and it sets the mood for the approaching holiday.
- Inspect the surfaces. If necessary, vacuum carpet and rugs. Sweep the bathroom, kitchen and foyer. Blow the leaves and debris off any sidewalks, entryways, decks or patios.
- Prepare food. Consider making dishes in advance. Just washing and cutting vegetables or pre-making a dish can give you that much more time to relax with your family.
- Make space in an easily accessed closet for guests’ jackets and other belongings.
- Run the dishwasher. Empty it out. That makes all your dishes available and sets the stage for cleanup after dinner.
Just Before Guests Arrive
- Empty the trash and recycling to avoid that unsavory chore in the midst of cooking.
- Light candles or consider an aromatic simmer pot scent — just boil water and add things such as cinnamon sticks. (see several recipes here)
- Do a quick spot clean, including checking the walkways and entryways to make sure they are clear of leaves and debris for your arriving guests.
- Take a few minutes to relax — just five minutes in your favorite easy chair or bed. Put on some relaxing music or whatever soothes you. That way you can feel as calm and composed as possible when guests arrive.