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So many of us look forward to the Thanksgiving holidays but dread all the work that comes with it. But, with these micro-tips, you can clean and prepare to host your Thanksgiving guests in a more relaxed fashion.

We’ll show you how to get your Chicago home ready for holiday entertaining so you can enjoy your time with family and friends.

Before Your Thanksgiving Guests Arrive

Let’s face it. Not all of us were born to be Mary Poppins, having everything in shipshape order all the time. And that’s okay. Really it is.

Much of having a smooth holiday rests on the preparation that’s done before the big day arrives. One of the best things you can do to promote a more stress-free Thanksgiving holiday is to prep as much as possible beforehand.

Some of the actual tasks will depend on whether or not you’re hosting just for the big day itself or plan to have guests stay in your home overnight. But, overall, each scenario shares much of the same chores. Here’s what to do:

The week before Thanksgiving or the day guests arrive:

➔   Make a list of everything that needs to be done from cleaning to food prep and cooking. Delegate any tasks you can to others.

➔   If you haven’t already done so (and really, this is best done two weeks in advance), create your Thanksgiving menu. Make a list of ingredients and buy whatever you can now. Obviously, you’ll want to wait to buy fresh items like the turkey until a day or two before Thanksgiving.

➔   Clean and tidy less frequented rooms first. And, if you do plan to have overnight guests, make it a priority to tackle guest rooms first. Do a general cleaning in guest rooms, but also wash and freshen up the bed linens so your guests feel cozy. Don’t forget to dust the furniture and vacuum the guest rooms as well as do a thorough cleaning of the guest bathroom. Make sure your family knows these areas are off-limits until your guests arrive so the rooms will stay clean until then.

➔   Once the guest rooms are done, try to accomplish at least one or two cleaning tasks a day. Assign hourly blocks to stay on task. For instance, one evening after work, you may decide to wipe down all mirrors and dust all of the furniture. Another evening, you may decide to declutter areas that need it. But, wait until the day before Thanksgiving to clean the floors, vacuum carpets, clean the kitchen, and remaining bathrooms.

➔   Wash and clean all holiday decor and items, including tablecloths, placemats, cloth napkins, holiday dishes and silverware. If you’ve had serving dishes and platters stored and unused since the last holiday, you may want to pull those out as well and clean them. Do a checklist to make sure you have all the pots and pans you need to prepare your Thanksgiving dinner and clean any of those that have been sitting around in storage.

➔   Stock up on plenty of snacks for extended guests. Get lots of finger foods so they can help themselves while you’re busy — Cut up some fruit and cheese, and put out crackers, nuts, and chocolate.

One to three days before Thanksgiving:

➔   Designate a spot for guests to put coats, purses, and umbrellas.

➔   Blow leaves off the driveway and sidewalk and offer a clearer path for your guests. Sweep the porch. If your yard gets dirty fast because of the fall wind, you may want to save this step for the day before your guests arrive.

➔   Organize your kitchen for the onslaught of cooking that’ll happen in there. Clean out the refrigerator so there’s room for everything you’ll need to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. Clean surfaces and counters while you’re at it.

➔   Stock all bathrooms with enough toilet paper and hand soap to accommodate your guests.

➔   Stock your kitchen with extra dish towels to handle all of the extra spills and cleaning.

➔   Prepare any Thanksgiving menu items ahead of time that you can. For instance, I’ve always cooked my cornbread the week before Thanksgiving and then freeze it. The night before Thanksgiving, all I have to do is pull it out to defrost for the next morning and then mix my other dressing ingredients at that time, then bake. Pies can also be prepared ahead of time. Anything you can do to take the pressure off of you on the big day will help you feel more relaxed so you can enjoy your guests.

The day before Thanksgiving:

➔   Set your Thanksgiving table ahead of time, the day before the big event. This way you’ll not only have the job done, but will have a pretty display for guests when they arrive. Don’t forget to add a pretty centerpiece to the table. This can range from fresh fall flowers from the supermarket to a basket of miniature pumpkins and gourds.

➔   Chop up any vegetables that are needed for your menu and store them in Ziploc bags until you’re ready to cook on Thanksgiving Day.

➔   Vacuum and mop the more common living areas like your living room, den, dining room and kitchen.

➔   Make a list that organizes your cooking and the time that each item will go into the oven or should be cooked on the stovetop. This will help you be more efficient on Turkey Day.

➔   Fluff pillows in the living room.

Other ideas

The whole point of preparing for Thanksgiving and any guests you plan to accommodate is to simplify your chores and magnify your time so you can enjoy the holiday with your friends and family.

There’s no shame in using disposable/paper plates, plastic utensils, cups, etc. This can help to make the cleaning process much easier as you go along so you have more time to relax along with everyone else.

While we’ve created this list of things to do, you can prioritize and choose to focus only on the most important tasks. Let’s face it. We’re all busy these days. The work-life balance isn’t easy to come by these days. Do what you can but don’t sweat over the rest!

Now, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

Once Turkey Day has arrived, it’s time to prepare our favorite meal of the year and visit with loved ones.

Who says hosting guests for Thanksgiving has to be difficult? These micro-tips can make it easier than ever to do so.

Having said that, you can make things even easier for yourself by hiring a cleaning company to do some of the work for you. That way, all you have to do is prepare a fabulous Thanksgiving Day meal and enjoy precious time with family and friends.