Enjoy Thanksgiving--Without Spending All Day In The Kitchen
Before Your Guests Arrive: Hit the hot spots
Focus on spiffing up the rooms your guests will use most--kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and entertainment area. You can knock out about 80 percent of your cleaning with just a cotton rag and some Windex. Dust the highest surfaces and work your way down, and then break out the vacuum to pick up any fallen dirt. Limit yourself to 15 minutes per room--for sanity's sake.
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Before Your Guests Arrive: Quarantine clutter
Your mother can't judge what she can't see. Round up the random junk (stacks of DVDs, magazines, sports gear), pile it into one room, and lock the door. While you're at it, stash any expensive equipment you don't want your curious nieces and nephews to dismantle.
Your house may be more polluted than the outdoors! Find out the 5 Indoor Air Dangers that could be looming in your home.
Before Your Guests Arrive: Prep for coats
If you toss your guests' outerwear on your bed, you'll just have to retrieve the items as folks depart. Instead, clear your own jackets and coats out of your entryway closet and pile them on the bed, leaving a spot for arriving guests to hang their stuff.
Don't forget to burn those calories before the party. Use the 15-Minute Hotel Room Workout to stay fit even when you're traveling during the holidays.
During the Event: Bench brought items
Limit kitchen chaos and overcrowding mishaps by placing side dishes and desserts on an extra table outside the kitchen. Don't have one? Ikea's Norden Gateleg table folds out and has storage drawers ($180, ikea.com). Or use your work-bench--with a tablecloth, of course.
Make an impressive dinner with these 7 Must-Have Cooking Tools.
During the Event: Enlist help
A few well-placed bribes will help keep things tidy. Pay your niece $5 to be constantly rounding up dirty dishes from around the house. Reduce the amount of food you have out and crown your nephew "King of Snacks," addressing him in a stately manner when you need the pretzel basket refilled.
Trying to shed fat? Here's how to Avoid Mindless Eating at Holiday Parties.
During the Event: Offer no-mess snacks
Avoid serving anything that could spill in your nice clean house. Pretzels, cheese and crackers, or pickles and olives make great alternatives to vegetables with messy ranch dip.
Chocolate anyone? Try these 6 Genius Junk Foods.
During the Event: Bag up stinky stuff fast
Wrap up the turkey grease and bones and take them outside ASAP. Otherwise you risk perfuming your party with cooking odors.
Got leftovers? Here's what to do with them:4 Easy Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes.