6 Ways to Prepare for a Relaxing Thanksgiving Evening

woman emptying the dishwasher

Unless you’re ordering takeout and hiring an event planner and a babysitter and a cleanup crew, Thanksgiving is bound to be hectic. Even though it’s a lot of work, that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck slaving away from sunup to sundown with no break. If your recipe for a good Thanksgiving is one part cooking, one part cleaning, and one part claiming your spot on the couch to watch the game, all you need now is the secret ingredient: getting your house guest-ready before the big day so you can devote some quality time to what really matters: family, food, and football. Here are six to-dos to tackle before your guests arrive:


1. Make way for leftovers. If your refrigerator could be mistaken for an antiques store, now’s a great time to toss the expired salad dressing and the container of mystery meat that’s been there so long it’s practically the family pet. Bonus: Everyone who peeks inside will think you’re a responsible adult.

2. Give it away — now. If you’re sending guests home with leftovers, buy a new batch of disposable containers for them so you don’t miss kickoff trying to match lids with bases from your own collection. Get a set in a single size so they’ll stack neatly in your newly organized fridge until it’s time to send them on their way. Use masking tape and a permanent marker to label whose is whose.

3. Stock bathroom essentials. Aside from the kitchen, the bathroom is the busiest room of the house on Thanksgiving, so make sure it’s set up with all the supplies your guests might need: extra toilet paper, air fresheners, clean hand towels, toothpicks, and maybe even extra toothbrushes, travel-sized toothpastes, and mini mouthwashes if you stuff your stuffing with extra onions.

4. Take out the trash. Empty all garbage and recycling bins (don’t forget the bathroom!) the day before or first thing in the morning, so you’ll have plenty of space for the holiday’s throwaways without having to take out the trash during the halftime show.

5. Empty the dishwasher. The true unsung hero of Thanksgiving is the dishwasher, so treat yours right by starting with an empty one and then making liberal use of it throughout the day. Run a load of cooking dishes during dinner and then a load of serving dishes during dessert so no one’s stuck at the sink while everyone else is eating pie.

6. Help them help themselves. Even though you’re the “hostess with the mostest,” accidents will happen, and you can’t be everywhere at once. (Maybe you’re outside supervising the turkey fryer? Maybe you’re lost in the basement looking for the heirloom gravy boat? Maybe you’re sneaking cranberry sauce straight from the can?) Keep a small bin of cleaning supplies close at hand so guests can take care of quick cleanups in your absence without having to rummage through your Closet of Horrors looking for a vacuum or stain remover. A small dustpan and brush, paper towels, all-purpose kitchen cleaner, and a stain stick make a good starting team. 

What are your best tips for getting your house guest-ready for Thanksgiving dinner?


Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/skynesher

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