I hate to be the bearer of stressful-yet-delicious news, but the American holiday of Thanksgiving is just about 10 days away. Luckily, 10 days is plenty of time to ready both your appetite and your home.
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, this list is a lifeline for staying on top of things and avoiding that frantic day-before energy. But even if you’re not a Turkey Day host, you can pin this checklist for any party any other time of the year, it’s a solid 10-step prep list that’ll make sure you and your guests have the best time together.
Take stock of your cookware and serveware
Make sure you have enough cookware and serveware for everything on your menu, and that it’s all clean and ready to go for the big day. (This is where double-duty cook-and-serve pieces come in handy, like these classic white baking dishes from Crate & Barrel.) For those things that aren’t oven-to-table, plan out which dishes or platters are going to hold what, and label them with index cards, sticky notes, or torn scraps of paper.
Get all the table decorations ready
If you have special silverware, glassware, or china you like to break out for the holidays, now is the time to drag everything out and clean and polish the silver. Iron your tablecloths and napkins. Make sure you have enough table settings for your guest list (if not, make a plan to mix and match!). If you’re crafting any centerpieces or table decorations, you can start making them, or at least make sure you have all the supplies you need.
A few days before Thanksgiving, you can set the table, if you have the time and the space. Just place plates and glasses face-down and drop the flatware down day-of.
Review your seating situation
Is there enough room for everyone to sit at dinner? If you need to borrow or rent chairs, now is the time to find out. (You can buy inexpensive folding chairs at Walmart in the neighborhood of $10 each. And for next year, you should know that you can buy a set of 10 cloth folding chair covers for $20 on Amazon.)
Once you’ve got dinner figured out, turn your attention to the lounge areas of your space that your guests are likely to cozy into once the tryptophan kicks in. Vacuum the sofa and chairs, flip and rotate the cushions, and put your de-piller to work (I have this one; it’s great) to make sure your living area is looking and feeling better than ever.
Make the lists you need to stay organized
If you take a few minutes today to start a few lists (in your daily notebook, on sheets tacked to the fridge) you’ll stay cool, calm, and collected. You’ll know what lists you need to keep based on your entertaining style, but here are some ideas:
- Grocery shopping lists (one for early non-perishables and one for fresh ingredients)
- Who is coming
- Who is bringing what (potluck dishes, supplies)
- Cooking timing and day-of oven schedules
Clear out the fridge, freezer, and pantry
You need to make room for the turkey, other ingredients, and of course, the leftovers. With 10 days to go, you can turn this into a “Chopped”-style challenge to eat your way through some forgotten ingredients instead of letting it go to waste.
Clean the entryway
You want to make sure your home makes a good first impression, so clean the entryway by sweeping, clearing surfaces and cleaning glass and mirrors. You can also take this moment to make sure there’s room to hang coats and purses—whether that happens in the entryway (you can set up an inexpensive garment rack, if you need) or you direct everyone to drop their things on the bed.
Clean the bathroom
You know what needs to be done here. Clean the sink, counter, inside and around the toilet, and floors, and then give the mirror a quick shine. You might also consider washing or replacing your shower curtain and shower curtain liner, if it’s been a while. If you’re hosting overnight guests, or your tub and shower is visible to bathroom transients, you’ll want to scrub that area as well. But if neither case applies, there’s no shame in closing the shower curtain and saying, “Done!”
Declutter common areas
Yes, if you’ve got time to deep clean your whole home, that’s a great move. But we’ve got 10 days to go, and I’m guessing you’ve got other things to worry about. Once the entryway and bathroom(s) are clean, just turn your attention to decluttering. Make sure your floors and surfaces are clear, and every out-of-place thing is returned to where it belongs. After that, I’d prioritize cleaning the floors well, and cleaning up around the exterior of your home.
Tie up other loose life threads
In the course of preparing for guests, if you found papers that need to be filed, packages that need to be mailed, or dishes that you need to return from your last potluck party, now’s a good time to tie up those loose threads.
Check on toilet paper, towels, and trash bins
The last thing you need to do—whether you tackle it today or Turkey Day morning—is confirm everything at home is ready for guests. Make sure you have enough toilet paper, set out clean towels, and empty the trash bins with a fresh liner in each. Happy Thanksgiving!
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