Home for the Holidays: Preparing Your Home for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Home for the Holidays: Preparing Your Home for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

If your house is anything like mine, the only things that remain from Halloween are the fake cobwebs in the corner and the rock-hard Mary Janes at the bottom of the candy bowl. It’s when all the good candy is gone that I start to think about the end of one fall holiday and start gearing up for the start of another: Thanksgiving!

In case you didn’t know, this year Thanksgiving is on November 24th. That means only 3 short weeks to mentally prepare myself for my family and physically clean up my house and make it look extra-festive for the occasion. Not to mention get a head start on the menu because there is about to be an obscene amount of delicious food in my house. If it’s your turn to host the festivities this year, start preparing now for a stress-free holiday.


Invite your guestsInvite all of the guests. Figuring out who is coming and when will help you determine how much space you need to clear and how much food to plan on. This is a good time to plan your menu and make a shopping list of all of the things you’ll need. Maybe test out any recipes you’re unsure of. This way you’ll have time to perfect them for company.

Next, just get it out of the way now and clean the guest room. Make your overnight holiday visitors feel welcomed and at home in your house by giving them their own space. Start by cleaning the sheets and fluffing the pillows. What could be more welcoming after a day of traveling than a clean, cozy bed? Throw an extra blanket on the foot of the bed in case your guests get chilly. Clear out a few drawers and make room in the closet so your visitors have a place to unpack their things. Be sure to move a luggage rack or low bench into the room so they have somewhere set their bags while they unpack.

Stock the guest bathroom with all of the necessities. Toilet paper, Q-Tips, fresh towels and washcloths, soap, shampoo, conditioner…should all be ready to go for your guests use. Also, think about stocking the medicine cabinet with aspirin, Pepto-Bismol and Tums. Even the most prepared guest will forget something, and this will prevent any awkwardness for them having to ask you.


BUY A TURKEY. Seriously. Those things fly like hotcakes before Thanksgiving. Better safe than sorry. Stick it in the freezer if you need to bring it home more than 4 days before Thanksgiving.

Get started on the table setting. Take the time to carefully iron the table cloth and napkins. Polish the silver, and inspect the china for chips. Do you have enough plates, glasses and serving platters? No? Good thing you realized this before dinner and have time to purchase more!

Clean the house. I mean, really clean it. Put everything in its designated place and don’t just shove stuff behind the closest closed door. When guests come over, who knows what they’ll do. They might open drawers and closets. Wouldn’t it be awful if an avalanche of stuff fell atop poor Aunt Mildred while she was looking for her umbrella? In fact, it’s a good idea to clear out the front closet to make room for your companies’ coats, hats and scarves. Once the house is really clean, it will look so nice that you’ll want to keep it that way.


Clear out your refrigerator. You’ll need to make room for the turkey and extra food. Then start de-frosting your turkey. Make all of the dishes that can be frozen and simply reheated, like pie crust or soup.

Start thinking about your centerpiece. What will look nice with your dishes? Do you want a glamorous Thanksgiving, or one that is more traditional? If it’s glamor you’re after purchase some metallic candles and decorative crystal candle sticks. For a more traditional holiday, decorate for the harvest with Indian corn, mini pumpkins and berries.

This week is when the heavy rearranging happens. Make sure your dining room is set up so your guests can move about freely. If you need extra chairs to accommodate more people, now is the time to bring those out. If needed, set up the kids table this week too. It’s a smart idea to arrange separate stations for cocktails, appetizers and dessert. Clear some space or set up some small tables that can be used for these stations.


Prepare any dishes that need to be made day-of. For example: clean and chop vegetables, and fill condiment dishes then cover with cling-wrap.

Purchase fresh flowers for your table and some for the guest room. Set the table with your beautifully pressed linens, shiny silver and fresh flowers. Don’t forget the center piece! Your guests will instantly feel the holiday cheer when they see the table set and ready to go. Stock the cocktail and dessert stations with the hardware they’ll need from napkins and plates to cocktail stirrers and shakers.

Give the house a once-over with the duster and the vacuum. Thanks to the deep clean you’ve already completed, your house should be looking spotless!

Go to sleep early so you’ll be refreshed for the big day!


First thing when you wake up, preheat the oven and start cooking the bird. Start the turkey early and keep an eye on it throughout the afternoon. Time your dishes carefully, so you know when they need to be started and how much oven/burner space you’ll have available. Be sure to clean as you go so end of the night cleanup doesn’t take hours.

Set out anything that can be kept at room temperature like wine, cookies, dinner rolls etc.

As your guests start to arrive, you’ll have practically everything done so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time entertaining your friends and family!

Image Credit…

Title Image: All Star Pics, 1: Dance 4 Fitness, 2: Eclectic Jewelry and Fashion, 3: Vany-S, 4: Mix 108, 5: Beat Crave

1 Comment

  1. one
    Comment by Bronx Marshall: Nov 18, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Very great tips for a perfect family visit. I especially like the extra blanket at the foot of the bed. I love keeping my feet warm.

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