When you’re having guests over for Thanksgiving, or any holiday really, food prep is only half the stress. There’s a whole horde of other things to consider – music, ambiance, decorations, drinks, seating – whew! We’re exhausted just thinking about it. Thankfully, there are hacks out there for just about anything.
Here are 23 hacks to make your Thanksgiving run as smooth as gravy – so you can focus your attention on mingling with guests and loading up on turkey.
1. Serve Buffet Style to Free Table Space
This one comes in handy when there’s absolutely no way all those Thanksgiving side dishes will fit on your table. Set everything out on a separate table or countertop, and let your guests go at it. This leaves ample table room for fun things like pretty centerpieces and cocktails.
2. Set Food on Cake Stands for Extra Counter Room
Another good one if you’re running low on space. Set some of your dishes on cake stands to clear up counter space.
3. Store Condiments in an Ice Chest
Running low on refrigerator space? Grab all of the things you won’t be using on Thanksgiving, and store them in an ice chest in the garage to free up refrigerator space.
4. Invest in a Tiered Oven Rack
If you’ve got a small oven and lots of side dishes to keep warm, get yourself one of these tiered oven racks. You can instantly double your oven space.
5. Use Your Slow Cooker to Keep Things Warm
Need to keep side dishes warm while you finish cooking? Transfer sides like mashed potatoes to a slow cooker, so you’re not taking up unnecessary space in the oven.
6. Rinse Potatoes and Steam Veggies in the Dishwasher
This one may seem strange, but it works. Toss your potatoes and yams into the dishwasher (without soap!) and let it do the work for you. No space on the stove to steam veggies? You can do that in the dishwasher, too.
7. Decorate With Hanging Garland to Save Table Space
Here’s another hack for small dining tables. Instead of big centerpieces and fancy place settings, use hanging decorations like string lights and garland. You can DIY this pretty Thanksgiving garland yourself.
8. Find Out Exactly How Much Alcohol You Need
Martha Stewart’s handy party calculator will help you figure out the right amount of alcohol to buy, so no one goes thirsty.
9. Set up a Drink Station Instead of Playing Bartender
You’re already busy cooking and playing host, you don’t want to play bartender too. Set up a little station with an assortment of boozy options, and let your guests pour their drinks just how they like them. You can provide an assortment of garnish options, too.
10. Use Grapes and Other Fruit as Ice Cubes
Don’t want to water down your drinks, or simply don’t have enough ice? Throw some grapes or berries into the freezer. They make for pretty beverages that aren’t watered down.
11. Cut Down on Dishes With Chalkboard Glasses
One glass per person makes clean up a whole lot easier. Buy some glasses guests can write on, or DIY your own chalkboard glasses. This way, drinks don’t get mixed up and guests don’t dirty several glasses.
12. Set the Table the Night Before
Setting the table doesn’t seem like a big task, but every bit of time counts on Thanksgiving. Create your table setting the night before, so you can focus your energy on other things Thanksgiving Day. This beautiful Thanksgiving table setting was inspired by the Pacific Northwest.
13. Not Sure How to Set the Table? Use This Infographic
14. Use a White Sheet as a Table Cloth
You spilled on your good table cloth?! No big deal. Iron a white sheet (size depending on the size of your table) and throw it over your table. Tie a ribbon at the bottom to keep excess fabric out of the way.
15. Tie Ribbons on the Backs of Chairs for a Pop of Color
This is a great idea if you’re going with a simple table cloth (or sheet!). Choose some fall colors and make bows on the backs of your chairs.
16. Use Apples, Gourds and Pinecones as Last-Minute Table Decorations
If your table looks a little blah, grab some extra pumpkins, apples or even twigs and create your own decorations.
17. Use Greenery or Washi Tape as Napkin Rings
If you don’t have napkin rings lying around (I certainly don’t) use rosemary or washi tape for a quick, polished look.
18. Utilize Your Shower Rod as a Coat Rack
Not everyone has ample room in their closet for 10+ coats. Instead of laying them somewhere they can get wrinkled, offer to take your guests’ coats and hang them on a shower rod where no one will see them. It works great when space is tight.
19. Make a Spotify Playlist or Pandora Station the Night Before
A little music will add to the ambiance of your dinner. Choose songs everyone will like and make sure your playlist is ready the night before, so you’re not scrambling.
20. Use a Toilet Paper Roll as a Speaker for Music
Is your music not loud enough for guests to hear? Make a simple iPhone speaker out of a toilet paper roll.
21. Grab a Lint Roller for Last-Minute Dusting
If you notice spots you missed while dusting, grab a lint roller and take care of them quickly.
22. Make Stovetop Potpourri for a Great-Smelling House
If you don’t have candles and want to get your place smelling nice, whip up your own fall stovetop potpourri.
23. Suggest a Potluck
If cooking everything yourself is just going to be too much, suggest a potluck. Have everyone bring their best side dish and you can focus on cooking a perfect turkey.
Have some Thanksgiving entertaining hacks of your own? Please share! Comment below, or Tweet your best hack to us @Redfin.