Simplify Your Life


Organizing Tips From Our Professionals

Guests, Stress and Clutter Oh My!

With 4 days to go until Thanksgiving the holiday season is almost officially upon us. Yes, we’ve been hearing holiday music for the past few weeks, but now it’s game time.

While hosting for the holidays can be seen as a badge of honor in some families it is also a cause of stress and anxiety for many. If you are starting to sweat just thinking about Thursday, this post is for you. Here are 6 easy ways to minimize the stress and clutter for Turkey Day.

1) You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Or by yourself. And the menu most certainly does not need to be comprised entirely of recipes you have never made before. Growing up, my mother always used to try and limit new recipes to one per gathering. She tried to make as much as possible ahead of time and was never afraid to include a few store bought items. And if people offer to bring something? Take them up on their offer! Remember: you want to enjoy the day and spend time with your guests, not spend the entirety of the afternoon sweating out timing in the kitchen.

2) Plan your dinnerware, serveware and set up ahead of time. Pull everything out of its home and identify platters, pans, napkins and bowls that will be in use. On the day of, if folks ask how they can help you’ll have a specific zone to direct them to as opposed to having to rummage through cabinets. If you are able, set the table (or the buffet!) the day before. I also love the idea of having a stack of tupperware handy so that after the meal it’s easy to send guests home with leftovers.

3) Make a plan for coats. Here in Boston, we had snow on Friday and it’s shaping up to be a chilly week. Depending on your space, hanging extra coats in the closet may not be an option. Coats on the bed? That works for some. Keep in mind that also means you are inviting your guests into that space (more space to tidy up!). If you have a little bit of floor space, a simple coat rack can work wonders. Most store relatively easily and the odds are that you would use it again. Bonus: Coat racks can also double as lovely displays for purses and handbags when not in use.

4) Declutter your fridge. Having ample space to store things made ahead of time, dishes brought by guests and leftovers is important. Take stock of what’s in your fridge now, get rid of anything expired or questionable looking and try to group things so that you have blocks of space available. That jar of jam you’ve been meaning to open at the back of your fridge for 6 months and simply haven’t gotten around to using? Toss it! (Or donate it to a food pantry if not expired.) If you are lucky enough to have guests offering to help with clean up, having space available makes it easy for them and they aren’t grabbing you every few minutes to ask where to put things.

5) Clear the deck. Where will your guests be gathering? Make a concerted effort to clear the clutter from the counters and tables in these spaces. This may mean temporarily relocating certain items out of a space, but you and your guests will be grateful for the extra counter/shelf/table space. Once the celebration is through you can bring things back, but it’s also a great opportunity to ask yourself “Do I really need this?” “Is this the best place for this item?”

6) Don’t forget the kiddos. Holidays can be an exciting time for kids and excitement can show in different ways. Most parents will bring items to keep their kids entertained, but if you have a few select items available it will almost most certainly be appreciated. For some, that means pulling out those toys you have been holding onto in the basement or the attic. For others, it might mean hitting up the “dollar bin” at Target for a few coloring books, crayons or sticker packs. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but for most parents this gesture means a lot and it helps families feel like the kids are really welcome and a part of the celebration.

At the end of the day, this season is about giving thanks and celebrating our families and loved ones. Don’t get so caught up with the idea of the day that you lose sight of the meaning of the day.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May your holiday be filled with love and laughter.