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Thanksgiving prep, party and clean-up tips

If you’ve ever hosted Thanksgiving at your place, you know how stressful it can be to prepare, host and clean up! From prepping all the food, to decorating and doing endless amounts of dishes, it’s easy to see why people have pre- and post-Thanksgiving Day meltdowns. Leave the stress at the door this year with these easy tips to help you host!

Grandmother, mother and daughter prepping turkey

Having your family, friends and neighbors over for the big dinner? Let us help you survive (and even enjoy yourself a little) with these super-easy tips for preparation, decorating and clean-up!

Don’t overthink it

Don’t think you need to pull a Martha to make your home beautiful for guests. Just a few simple touches and statement pieces are all you need for a gorgeous tablescape! Make the centerpiece the focal of your table with this pumpkin centerpiece or this stunning collection of dried roses. If you have some time, make these simple and adorable DIY pumpkin candles and use them as place cards for your guests! Gourds and leaves also make great additions to your table.

Plan a buffet

Who said Thanksgiving has to be formal? Host a buffet! If you don’t want to buy a buffet table, simply use the top of a long dresser or cabinet. Then, place your food on the cabinet alongside some plates, napkins and utensils and let your guests help themselves! If you’re really informal, use paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils to save on the clean-up.

Prepare food in advance

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and relax, so don’t spend your entire holiday slaving over the stove. Bake your turkey the day before and simply carve the day of. Side dishes — like soups, stuffing and mashed potatoes — can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Pies can also be made a few days in advance and frozen.

Fake it, don’t bake it

If you don’t like baking (or aren’t very good at it), don’t do it! Stock up on store-bought pies and pastries and serve them on cake plates to give the illusion you made them. Also, make your own toppings — like whipped cream, caramel sauce or ice cream — for a semi-homemade dessert.

Use cooking spray or foil

Who wants to spend Thanksgiving evening doing anything but lying in sweat pants and drinking wine? Save yourself hours of clean-up by lining all of your pans with cooking spray or foil. Cooking spray prevents food from sticking to the surface of your pans, pots and roasters so all you have to do is wipe down with soap! Foil can be easily removed and thrown away without the need for washing at all!

Clean as you go

Don’t leave all the dishes for the night or morning after — instead, do them as you go. Have guests clear their plates after each course. As you wait for the next serving to be ready, load the dishwasher and turn it on. Same goes for food: Once the dinner is served, put away all the appetizers. By taking care of dishes and clean-up while the party is happening, you’ll be left with less mess when it’s over.

More simple party tips

Holiday entertaining survival guide
Choose your dinner party
Party prep guide: What to make ahead

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