Is Your Home Thanksgiving-Ready? Here's Our Checklist

There's nothing like checking tasks off a to-do list, right?

November 23, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

In a post-2020 world, many of us are lucky to be able to gather with our loved ones for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, for me, usually means: waking up just in time to catch the tail-end of the Macy’s parade with kitchen smells indicating my mom’s actually-early call time; and in recent years, doing some light cleaning before the small family crew arrives.

Preparing for a gathering though, no matter how big or how small, is certainly stressful, especially when you have six different to do lists knocking around in your brain. By no means do you need to (nor should you) do all, but we’re here to help streamline things in any way possible.

Tidying Up Tasks

Get the Sink Shining

Sure, you’ll have to clean the sink after all the T-day dishes, but putting a little bit of work in at the outset makes the job far easier later. Plus, when you (hopefully) have someone offer to assist with clean up, the sink will be impressively shiny—giving the illusion of complete & utter preparedness.

Sharpen Your Knives for Bird-Cutting

Of course, the piece de resistance of any Thanksgiving table is the turkey, but what would turkey be without a ridiculously sharp knife to carve and slice it? No need to buy one of those terrifying motorized meat knives (reminiscent of a chainsaw, anyone?), just schedule in a few minutes of TLC for your own knives and you’re good to go.

Care for Your Cookware

Your pots and pans have been waiting for this day all year—longing to hold whipped, buttery potatoes and begging to brown some sprouts. While they all have different needs, your stainless steel, nonstick, cast iron, and copper will perform even better with some proper care before their day in the sun.

Tackle Oft-Forgotten Places

Behind the toilet, inside the oven, and the dishwasher (yes, it needs a clean, too!) all fall by the wayside in favor of easier, more visible surfaces to wipe clean, but now might be the time to face them head-on.

Decorating To-Do’s

Brainstorm a Centerpiece

Sure, it might just be your immediate family gathering around the table this year, but keeping the holidays special means adding thoughtful little touches all the same. There’s a centerpiece for every schedule or budget as well, be it creating a show-stopping aerial arrangement, or simply gathering up your houseplants for a display.

Stock Up the Bar Cart

Keep the classics on hand, of course (whiskey, vodka, tequila, gin, rum), but have fun accessorizing the bar cart with all manner of tools, syrups, and mixers. Our resident bartender, Elliot Clark, suggests having a cocktail shaker, mixing glass, bar spoon, and jigger for would-be mixologists in the family, as well as an ice bucket and some of the most common glassware—collins, rocks, and coupes. With all that stocked, you literally can’t go wrong.

Gather Your Tablescape Supplies

The table setting, much like a centerpiece, need not be complicated to have an impressive effect on those seated at the table. Fluffing up some choice herbs and folding cloth napkins are simple-than-you-think tasks that create an altogether sophisticated ambience.

Set the Mood with Candles

Thanksgiving has its own lineup of signature scents (my mouth is watering at the thought of being woken up to the smell of turkey), but a fall-scented candle lit upon arrival is truly a special touch.

Extra Credit Points

Give the Couch Some Love

Maybe this year you’re ditching the table in favor of the couch (I’m all for this, as I’m a serial couch-eater), which might be the final push you need to give it a deep clean.

Prep Reusable Leftover Wraps

If you’re lucky enough to have a couple guests over this year, they’ll be blown away by how far ahead you thought on this one. In reality though, these beeswax wraps are the quickest and simplest way to make leftover storage stylish, and they’re better for the earth, too.

Vacuum Your Curtains and Blinds

Oh yes, your window coverings are absolute magnets for dust and dirt, and a quick vacuum does the trick to suck up unwanted cobwebs. Instead of dusting or wiping, which inevitably leads to re-circulation of particles, the vacuum makes light work of it.

Get Up Close & Personal with the Baseboards

For our brand partnerships editor, Erin Alexander, the baseboards are actually never overlooked in her home, because her mom was more-than on top of it growing up. If yours need a clean though, grab the vacuum, a cloth, and some warm soapy water and get to it.

Which of these tasks will you be doing this year, and which will you skip? Tell us below!
52 Days of Thanksgiving
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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.