The official winter holiday season is about to start, with Thanksgiving only a few days away. The celebration gathers families and friends under the same roof and around the dinner table. If you’re the one hosting Thanksgiving this year, you might need a bit of help with getting your home ready for the big day.

Here are some of the things you absolutely have to do in preparation for receiving your guests, from decluttering your home to making sure you have the proper Thanksgiving décor in place:

1. Declutter the common areas in your home

Living room, kitchen, dining room and bathroom – it’s important that you declutter all the common areas in your home thoroughly. Your guests should be able to feel cozy and comfortable in your home, and a neat, tidy space, without piles of stuff lying around, will ensure that they do. Here’s how to perform a quick yet efficient decluttering session:

  • Start at the entryway. Put away all the shoes and the coats you don’t currently use – you need that extra space for your guests’ gear. Also, make sure that all the other small items usually kept in this area, from keys and umbrellas to bags and hats, are neatly arranged. The entryway is the first impression that guests get of your home, so you should strive to make it a positive one.
  • The kitchen is another room that needs decluttering – not only for the guests, but also to make it easier for you to cook the Thanksgiving dinner. Clear the countertops and other surfaces of stuff and check out the cabinets and the pantry. Discard chipped mugs and plates, and expired cans of food or jars of spices. Take the opportunity to make an inventory of your tableware and cooking gear, to ensure that you have everything you might need on hand.
  • Put away books, toys, magazines, papers and all the other knick-knacks you might have in your living room and/or dining room.
  • Organize your bathroom and put all the makeup, lotions, brushes, medication and other items you usually keep on the counter in the drawers and the cabinets.
  • After decluttering, you can also do a deep clean of those spaces, making sure that all the surfaces get dusted and polished and your home is sparkling clean.

2. Take an inventory of the seating options

This might sound obvious for people who regularly host their family and friends for Thanksgiving.  However, if you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, it might not occur to you that you don’t have enough chairs for everyone. Do a head count of all the people you are expecting and an inventory of all the chairs in your home.

You don’t want to be one of those people who, hours before guests are due to arrive, are online frantically looking to see if Home Depot is open on Thanksgiving and whether you could go buy some extra chairs. Hint: No, Home Depot is not open on Thanksgiving, and you need to solve the seating issue ahead of time. Maybe you have some extra chairs in your storage unit, or you could buy or borrow them for the occasion. Also, don’t use your office chairs or breakfast bar chairs as seating options for the dinner table. No one wants to loll around on an swivel chair while eating dinner or sit in an uncomfortable position on a chair that’s way too tall for the purpose.

Another good idea is to set up the dinner table with all the tableware as a “rehearsal” of sorts, just to see if you can comfortably seat all the people you invited. Trying to eat dinner with zero elbow room is no fun, as we all know. If seats end up being too close together, you could add a second smaller table next to the main one. A folding table will do, as long as it’s the same height – you’ll be covering it with the tablecloth anyway, so your guests won’t even notice.

3. Don’t forget about Thanksgiving décor

Your home won’t be ready for company until the Thanksgiving décor is up. You probably already have decorations from previous years, or you could buy some new ones for this special occasion. But, if you can find the time, you could also make some simple DIY Thanksgiving decorations.

DIY decorations bring a personal, unique touch to your home. You could even involve your children in the preparations for Thanksgiving Day and ask them to take over the decoration task – it should be fun for them. Just make sure you supply plenty of mini-sized pumpkins, chestnuts, walnuts, crayons, ribbons, paper and other craft supplies.

4. How’s dinner coming along?

Cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner by yourself is a pretty huge effort – and it’s perfectly acceptable and even customary to share the task with your guests. They can bring sides and desserts along, saving you some of the work. However, don’t leave that up to chance, or you’ll end up with multiple pies and no cranberry sauce. Or, rather, with lots of cranberry sauce and no pies – and that’s a real tragedy, right there. You are the main organizer of the meal, and it’s your job to contact your guests ahead of time and, after asking them what they would prefer to cook, to assign different dishes to each one.

5. Keep the children entertained

One way to ensure that everyone has a nice Thanksgiving Day, and a relaxing dinner, is by making sure that the little ones are well entertained.

Hopefully adults will manage to behave themselves without extra incentives, but you can’t expect kids to just sit nicely for hours. So, if there will be children at your home for Thanksgiving, it’s a good idea to set up a corner for them, with games, toys, craft supplies and movies.

What traditions does your family have for Thanksgiving, and what do you do to make sure it’s a fun day for everyone? Let us know in the comments!

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Maria Gatea is a creative writer for StorageCafe and RentCafe with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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