Don’t be a turkey this Thanksgiving. After all, most of us celebrate the holiday by giving thanks for what we have. It’s the best time to take a moment and be grateful for the amazing people in our lives. Are you having Thanksgiving guests over for turkey (or tofurkey) dinner? There’s still time to get the place ready – but make sure you give yourself a couple of days’ notice to really make them feel welcome!
Here are five steps to optimize your home for Thanksgiving:
Why wait until the new year to get your home in shape? Whether you have a preferred method of decluttering or you’re planning to get ultra-organized Marie Kondo style, the most important thing to do when making the purge is to break everything into categories. Room by room or the entire place by category, go with whatever comes most naturally to you.
You might consider including the following categories:
- Paper items (invoices, receipts, business cards, etc.)
- Knick knacks and decorations
- Miscellaneous (‘junk drawer’ stuff)
- Pet supplies (if applicable)
- Furniture and bulky items
- Toys (if applicable)
From there, break each category into the following piles:
There are so many local organizations that help keep waste out of the landfill that you shouldn’t have much to throw in the trash. Electronics can go to an electronics recycler, clothing can be donated or recycled, paper, wood and plastic can of course be recycled, and home furnishings can be donated.
Once you know what you’re keeping, move on to step 2.
Organize your stuff
Every item deserves a home. Separate your clothing into a spring/summer category and a winter/fall category. Keep the drawers full with the current season’s garments and stow away the rest (either in a closet, a trunk, or in offsite storage).
Do you have a junk drawer filled with random stuff? That’s probably because every little item doesn’t have a place to live. Instead of throwing miscellaneous things into a bin or drawer because they don’t have a home, make the drawer their home. Is it mostly ‘gotta-keep’ receipts and office supplies? Put the receipts in a small folder and organize every little item by type (eg. birthday candles in a box, batteries in a container, paperclips in a tin, buttons in another).
Move unnecessary items out of the way
Closets, basements, attics, garages, and storage lockers are better places to keep less-used belongings than in front of your Thanksgiving guests. Of course, simplifying your home should make it feel more welcoming, not cold and unlived in, so just keep decorative or regularly-used items out in the open. The rest should be given a home and put away.
Is there space under the bed for your guitar? Will your child’s stuffed animal collection fit in their toy box for now? Can you put seasonal items in the garage? Or if you have less room at home, can you move things into an offsite storage unit? Even if you’ll bring them back out when your guests leave, it can’t hurt to declutter for your own benefit too, right? You might like how it looks so much that you’ll leave your home looking just like this!
Mop, vacuum, dust, and wipe down every surface the day before guests arrive. If you’re tired from all the organizing and decluttering and can afford a cleaning service, it’s worth the splurge and gives you one less thing to worry about.
Don’t forget to take a deep breath and relax before anyone comes over. Enjoy a clean, clutter-free space, and know that once the guests leave, you have an even more inviting home to live in.
Set up for guests
Give yourself enough time to prepare. Do you need to borrow extra chairs or extend the table to accommodate everyone? Is your sister bringing her new flame to meet the family? Do you have enough dishes and silverware? Do you need to make some extra space so your nephew can manoeuvre in his wheelchair? Thinking ahead will ensure you set up your home so it feels warm and inviting for everyone.
Some people go all out with themed place settings and decorations for major holidays, and Thanksgiving is no exception. While not everyone’s tastes include setting up a full-blown cornucopia centre stage, leaves bring a nice autumn flair to the room (pick up some fabric ones at Michaels if you don’t want to invite the outdoors inside) and brown, orange, yellow, and red candles add warmth, both literally and figuratively (but don’t light them near the leaves, okay?). Dried corn and squash are other traditional Thanksgiving decor staples. You can even put up a fall wreath on the front door.
If you’re preparing an entire meal, give yourself plenty of time (especially if you’re cooking a turkey, which can take all day). But if you’re hosting a big gathering, you can also invite guests to bring a side dish.
Treat them like royalty
What happens when you cover all the small details? You go down in history amongst your loved ones as the best host around. Ask yourself how you can make your guests more comfortable. Do your cousin’s children need booster seats? Would Grandma like an extra cushion on her chair? Does Bob prefer non-alcoholic options, and is Christina still a vegetarian? Make sure everyone is happy, and try to anticipate their requests (ie. refills!) before they make them.
Preparation is key to a memorable event, but so is every minute of Thanksgiving dinner. Show your guests how thankful you are that they’re in your life. It’s an amazing thing to be able to share the ‘harvest’ with people you care about. Happy Thanksgiving!