Holiday planning: Preparing your home for Thanksgiving

A group of friends enjoying salad before a Thanksgiving feast.

You may still be enjoying the Halloween candy you stole from your kids, but Thanksgiving is on the horizon. It’s time to start preparing your home for a day of family, food, fun and maybe a little football!

If you start now, you just might be able to enjoy the days leading up the holiday instead of being in a frantic frenzy of unfinished to-do lists.

List it

Which brings us to our first item: Make lists. Take time to list everything that needs to be done or purchased before your guests ring the doorbell.

Start with a guest list. As you add each person, consider any special needs they may have and how you can accommodate them. Knowing ahead of time that a guest is vegetarian or requires gluten-free, halal or kosher dishes will help you set a table with food everyone can enjoy.

Breaking everything else down into different categories will help you see the big picture: menu, shopping list, indoor cleaning, outdoor cleaning, minor home repair projects.

Keep lists handy so you can add any items or cross out ones you’ve already completed. One option is to use the notes function on your mobile device so your lists go with you wherever you go.

Deep clean

Enlist the whole family for a deep clean of any area where guests will be spending time – living room, dining room, bathrooms, porches and patios in the warmer climates, and of course, the kitchen. (If you’re new to living on your own and hosting, here are some cleaning tips.)

How early you do this depends on how much confidence you have it will be maintained until the holiday. Your goal is to limit last minute cleaning to touch ups that can be accomplished in a snap without disruption.


Many people become immune to the paper piles that are part of their everyday lives. But your guests won’t and it will detract from a relaxing atmosphere.

Besides, you don’t want your nosy aunt shuffling through your bills, do you? Tuck them away a few days before the holiday by carefully transferring them to a laundry basket or box and storing it in a bedroom.

They can easily be returned to their spot after the holiday hubbub, and your archaeological filing system won’t be disturbed.

Make room

Plan your regular meals leading up to the holiday in a way that allows you to clean out your refrigerator. You’ve got to make room to store all your food for the feast!

Start collecting plastic containers you don’t want returned (like sour cream or margarine tubs) so you’ll be ready to send leftovers home with your guests.

Also, especially in cooler climates, designate a spot in your home for coats and jackets, whether it’s a cleared out closet or a tidied up bedroom.

The good china

Table leaves, extra chairs, fine china, crystal, table cloths, holiday serving dishes – these are the things that only come out a few times a year.

Get them out with plenty of time to dust off the cobwebs and ensure they are sparkling clean for the big day. (Also make sure you have enough of them for your guests and side dishes.)

If your home has a separate dining room, make that a staging area the week of Thanksgiving and store the items there.

Be your guest

The night before, play the role of your guests and envision where they will sit, talk or spend time.

As you do, pay attention to what they might see and items that may have been missed in your regular cleaning routine.

Did your family photos on that high shelf get dusted in the deep clean? Everyday items to you are new and interesting to the family you only see once or twice a year.

Last minute touches

Keep your cleaning supplies handy for those last minute projects the morning before your guests arrive.

Wipes and a multipurpose spray cleaner are great for almost anything you discover or the inevitable cooking splatters. Make sure the dishwasher and trash containers are empty and ready.

Put fresh soap, holiday towels and candles in the bathroom and make sure there is hand cream for your guests.

If you don’t own traditional Thanksgiving decorations, grab a few leaves, acorns or other easy fall décor items provided by Mother Nature and strategically place them around your home.

It’s the little touches like these that makes your guests feel both at home and special.

Oh, and one last thing: If your guests are expecting to watch any football games, make sure you get the needed channels!

Need some products to help with your preparation? Try these:

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