How to Prepare for Thanksgiving Guests


Part of Thanksgiving is giving, so it makes sense that giving your nearest and dearest out-of-town friends or family a place to stay might be part of it. Being a good host can easily be achieved by planning and picking up some room-by-room essentials so that once your guests arrive, you can all relax. Part of the thanks will be a feeling of gratitude for the great time had by all.

Scanning and Planning

Three weeks to a month ahead of Thanksgiving, figure out who will be staying with you. It is a good idea to know approximately how long your guests will be visiting, so you can have enough supplies to last. Find out if your guests have special dietary requirements, so you can have food that everyone can enjoy.

Finding out dietary needs is even more important if you plan to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Since you may have people attending dinner who aren’t staying with you, find out the dietary needs of any additional guests while you are in the preliminary stage of planning.

Once you have the guestlist for overnight visitors and those simply attending the meal finalized, more plans and decisions are necessary. To avoid any issues, scan the items you already own to determine if you have plenty of places for guests to sleep, sheets, pillowcases, pillows, comforters and blankets, chairs, table space, dishware, glasses, table settings, towels, hand towels, hand soap and other everyday essentials.

This phase is also the time to scan your kitchen for the necessary cooking items like pots and pans, mixers, crock pots, roasting pans, knives, meat thermometers, cutting board, a baster, a ladle, coriander and anything else you might need for Thanksgiving and/or any other meals you may be planning.

Don’t limit scanning and planning to the kitchen area. When you have overnight guests, it is a good idea to go room to room taking inventory of what you already own to determine what you may need to buy when you are preparing for Thanksgiving guests.

Don’t be afraid to make a list to keep you organized and ahead of the game. You may need multiple lists if you are having overnight guests and cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Focus on Food.

Whenever Thanksgiving rolls around, there is always a focus on food. This first planning stage is the appropriate time to decide on the menu if you are also cooking the Thanksgiving meal. To prevent unnecessary stress, choose some dishes that are fine to serve at room temperature instead of limiting the entire meal to dishes that need to be hot or cold to taste good.

If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and out-of-town visitors, check with your guests to see if they want to contribute a dish or volunteer to help you with the cooking. Within any group of people, you can often find at least a few individuals who like to make specific dishes, which can help alleviate some of the pressure you face and allow guests to feel more helpful and comfortable.

Once you have those details handled, you can begin to figure out your menu. To determine what size turkey you will need, approximately one pound of turkey per person is a good estimate. The turkey, beverages and non-perishable items can be purchased at this time unless you want to avoid freezing the turkey.

If you are serving a fresh turkey without freezing it, a raw, unfrozen turkey will only last two days in the refrigerator, so wait until right before Thanksgiving to purchase if this is what you plan to use. However, if you are storing your turkey in the freezer, it will need to be moved from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw before you can cook it. The USDA advises that it takes approximately 24 hours per four or five pounds of turkey to thaw a frozen turkey.

One week ahead of Thanksgiving, you can purchase vegetables like potatoes, squash, green beans and any other hearty side-dish veggies you may need.

Pies, some casseroles, soups and cranberry sauces can be made a few days in advance. A day or two in advance is a good time to buy salad greens and any perishable vegetables. Of course, within a few days of Thanksgiving, it is also beneficial to figure out a plan and calculate how long your dishes are going to take to cook.

Even if you aren’t cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, you still should have a focus on food. Food can make a person feel at home. There is a reason “comfort food” is a thing, so find out what kind of food inspires your visitors to experience those warm, fuzzy feelings and stock up.

It also doesn’t hurt to leave some snacks and bottles of water near where your guests will be sleeping, so they don’t have to fumble around in an unfamiliar kitchen in the middle of the night if they get hungry.

The Essentials Room by Room

One thing all the rooms in your home should have in common is they should all be clean. When you want to accomplish a thorough clean, cleaning with a top-to-bottom approach allows you to avoid cleaning the same areas twice and prevents you from missing anything.

Cleaning and removing clutter will improve the overall appearance and mood of your home. Having an open, clean space allows energy to flow more freely, making you and your guests feel relaxed and calm.

Living Areas and Bedrooms in Bloom

Once your living space is clean, you can go a step further by brightening the surroundings. One of the easiest ways to get your space fresh and festive is by incorporating flowers. Many bright, fall arrangements are perfect for getting everyone in the mood for Thanksgiving.

Whether your guests are staying in a bedroom or a living room, placing a bouquet of fresh flowers near the sleeping space instantly creates an inviting atmosphere and gives an impression of elegance. Items like tissues, clocks and scented candles are also thoughtful additions to the designated guest space.

For a festive Thanksgiving bouquet or even an elegant everyday arrangement, let our florists at In Bloom Flowers and Gifts in Abington, PA, provide some floral arrangements to elevate your environment.

Make sure the bed sheets for your guests are clean, and the pillows are fluffy. Provide extra blankets and comforters. If you have a guest bed that is always made, freshen up the sheets by washing them to prevent them from smelling stale.

Checking lightbulbs, dusting the area and providing some magazines or books is a nice way to make guests feel pampered. If there is a television in the area, leave the remote control in an obvious spot. Wi-Fi access will be appreciated by your guests, so leave a small card with the wi-fi password on it.

Set aside closet space or somewhere for your guests to store their belongings to avoid suitcases and bags exploding across the floor.

A Bathroom Plan to be Spic and Span

Clean the bathroom and replace old towels with new ones. A few toiletries like soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner placed on the vanity in a decorative basket is a way to give your guests a thoughtful gift that lets them know you care.

No matter how thoroughly you clean, the bathroom is a room that doesn’t necessarily stay smelling fresh. As a result, provide air fresheners, potpourri and scented candles and matches to prevent any unsavory scents from lingering.

Since the bathroom is sometimes overlooked, placing a fresh bouquet somewhere in the bathroom will brighten up the space and freshen the air.

Make the Most of Being the Host

If your guests are staying for an extended amount of time, there will be times you have to work or do other things. Letting your guests know your schedule in advance can prevent hurt feelings and allow them to plan separate activities whenever you are too busy to entertain.

Since your guests are making the effort to travel to visit you, think of some activities they will enjoy that they could not experience at home. Museums, shopping, restaurants, parks and theaters are all good places to consider visiting. Use what you know about your guests and any interests or hobbies they may have to pick some places to visit together.

Have some activities you can all do together at home to help pass the time, especially if some of your guests are children. Board games, puzzles, paints and drawing materials can keep everyone entertained and happy at home.

If your guests are unfamiliar with the area, consider putting together a simple field guide with maps, activities and coupons, so your guests aren’t too afraid to venture out on their own.

Don’t overschedule activities or engagements with your guests. Normal, everyday activities like dishes, laundry and general cleaning still must be done, so take guests up on any offers to help. This will let you spend more time together and cut down on the time it takes to do these necessary tasks.

If you run out of ways to entertain your Thanksgiving guests, bring out the snacks. It sounds simple, but good food and simple conversation can set the scene for memorable moments.

When you are the host of Thanksgiving, make the most of it. This is an opportunity to share a sliver of your life with people who are special to you. Enjoy the moments and let things happen naturally. With the right planning and preparation beforehand, you can focus your attention on fun instead of formalities during the visit.

Part of giving thanks is recognizing the people who make life better. Make your guests feel welcome and appreciated, and part of the thanks you will all give will be for an unforgettable Thanksgiving visit.

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