Get Organized Now, Stress Less Come the Great In-Law Invasion

November 13, 2015

It's that time of year when to-do lists start running onto second and third pages, when there's so much going on that the hardest part of the day is deciding which task to tackle first. Shop for a party dress, or decide on a recipe to bring to Friendsgiving? Find a way to eke a solid yes or no from your most elusive guests, or just go ahead and assume they're coming (while quietly fuming) so food is aplenty?

I won't pretend to be good at sussing out priorities (or responding in a timely manner to my friends' invitations), but I can think of one task that's never too soon to get started on, and that's tidying. Worry about all the details of the party later—for now, it's time to get your house organized. Here are some ways to spare yourself a breakdown later, before the true madness of Thanksgiving prep sets in:

Clean any silver you'd like to use.

Our large-batch (and all-natural!) method for silver utensils will get them shiny without any tedious scrubbing—and uses just one pantry item and one common kitchen supply staple so that chemistry does all the work for you.

The power of baking soda cleans silver best. Photo by Alpha Smoot

Replenish your cleaning supplies.

Whether by making your own all-natural cleaners or by stocking up on your favorite brands, you'll need something to scour with.

Photo by Mark Weinberg
Photo by James Ransom

Deep clean the kitchen!

With our cleverest kitchen cleaning tricks, banishing sticky grime and getting your grout white is a cinch. Then when you start to prep (and when you tackle clean-up), you'll be that much closer to a spotless surface.

Sharpen your knives.

You'll be very glad you did this now come turkey time—and here's how.

Getting rid of fruit flies once and for all is as simple as firing up the oven.

Tend to the bar cart situation.

Later, you might consider making a batch specialty cocktail for your event (even caterers recommend doing this!), but for now just be sure the bar cart has all the necessary basics.

Consider your storage supplies.

Hopefully you'll have enough time to do some cooking in advance, and as soon as you chop that first carrot for the next day's mise you're going to need a place to store it. Get icky smells out of your favorite plastic storage containers with these genius methods—or upgrade to something classier (we love these glass storage containers.).

Photo by James Ransom
Photo by James Ransom

Be sure you've got enough plates for everyone.

We've got a couple of good ideas if you're short:

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Do a platter check.

A drumstick might do fine on a paper plate, but a whole bird is another story. You're going to want big bowls for the sides (creamed spinach is way less fun when seeping over the edge of a plate) and serving platters for anything heftier.

Shop the Story

Shop serving pieces here!

Photo by James Ransom

Be sure you have enough seating.

You can always rent (or, let's be real here, borrow) chairs to make room—but if you like having people over it's a good idea to spring for some collapsible ones—how great is this waxed canvas one?

In the event that you do stock up, find a place to hang them out of the way until the big day; in the office, we use dowels to make quick work of this.

Consider the bathrooms.

No matter how you try to prevent it, your guests will find their way into every room in your home, and they will open all the cabinets and drawers that you hope they do not open. Prepare: Stock some cute soaps, put helpful and pretty things on a little shelf, and don't forget to put out matches and candles.

Photo by Lauren Kelley
Photo by James Ransom

What are we forgetting? Share your holiday organizing secrets in the comments.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Dana A. November 4, 2016
wash all your glasses, i always forget that one
AntoniaJames November 13, 2015
Don't forget to polish your copper, especially any that will go out to the sideboard or table.

Incidentally, copper gratin dishes make elegant, practical serving dishes, e.g., serving sliced meats covered with gravy or sauce. Make/heat the sauce in it on the stove, slip slices of meat in while hot, put out to serve. Put a spoon in the dish as well a fork and pass extra gravy at the table.

I realize you're not selling any copper gratin dishes in the retail department here. Perhaps you should. They are wonderfully handy - useful for so many purposes. And they are beautiful! ;o)

P.S. Polish silver candlesticks and any shallow bowls you'll be using for flower arrangements. (Those small silver bowls you won as prizes as a student come in handy this time of year!)