Let Nature Contribute to Your Thanksgiving Theme

At the Organizing Blog, we’re all about doing more with less. But even the most minimalist homemaker occasionally hosts a get-together, and next week is the ultimate dinner party of the year. If you happen to be hosting the Thanksgiving feast, you may want to bring a few fall flourishes to the table — and you can do so inexpensively.

First, know that you don’t have to buy a lot of extra stuff to establish a Thanksgiving theme. You can harvest the decorations that suggest the season easily, and for not a lot of money. Pumpkins, gourds and apples aren’t expensive to buy at the local grocery store or farmstand, and leaves and pinecones are free to pick up and use.

Once you have some of these nature-made materials, get creative. Living Rich on Less suggests making do-it-yourself candleholders out of apples, pumpkins or a birch bough to make a rustic centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. Most fall décor is based on harvest themes, and you can also use dried corn cobs, wheat, pears, berries, twigs and nuts to make a centerpiece, Good Housekeeping says. (Bonus: When you’re done with these all-natural accenst, you can put compost them.)

When it comes to making a serving the feast, there’s no better place to look for the stuff you need than the local thrift store. You can get mixing bowls, casseroles, pans, table settings, platters and small appliances for a fraction of what buying them new would cost, and since many thrift stores are supplied by donations to ClothingDonations.org, you’ll help veterans as you shop. Thrifts are also a great source for home accents, paper napkins, candles and other items that can make your fall feast shine.

There’s no reward for spending more than you need to get your house ready for guests. With your own resourcefulness and a few dollars, you can out-Martha Stewart Martha Stewart this Thanksgiving and wow the friends and family. Better still, you can put the money you save into the feast! Next week, the Organizing Blog will share a few money-saving tips for meal itself.

Make a Thanksgiving Side in Seconds

Due to their size and demands, many Thanksgiving feasts turn into potlucks; the host family provides the turkey and other core dishes, and guests bring the side dishes. Fortunately for the time-challenged chef, many home-cooked sides can take just 30 minutes or less, Southern Living says. Even a novice can whip up delectable dishes such as roasted carrots, green bean casserole, goat cheese mashed potatoes, cornbread, and macaroni and cheese in minutes for any size crowd, and all are sure to be a big hit at the dinner table. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Clock Is Ticking on Thanksgiving Prep

Thanksgiving is just three days away, so if you’re hosting a feast, it’s getting down to the wire to start on the menu. A frozen 12-pound turkey takes 36 hours to defrost, so that should go into the refrigerator immediately. You can also beat the crowds by shopping for perishable ingredients — fresh herbs and vegetables, salad greens, whipping cream, etc. — early in the week and during the off-peak hours, says the Food Network’s Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar. Tomorrow, you can start prepping dishes that will reheat well on the big day such as casseroles and soups.

Declutter Before Your Thanksgiving Feast

Hosting Thanksgiving can be a huge responsibility. The major menu items — turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and so on — aren’t incredibly hard to prepare, but can often be messy and time-consuming. Add to that the need to make your home inviting and presentable for the feast, and the holiday can quickly get to be an unwieldy chore.

If you declutter your home ahead of the feast, however, you will likely find all of the tasks on your list will suddenly become more manageable. When you don’t have to trip over stacks of stuff you don’t need before your guests arrive, your stress will dissipate fast.

The kitchen will see heavy use during the Thanksgiving feast, so make sure it offers the chef a streamlined workspace. Apartment Therapy recommends eliminating clutter by paring down the numbers of duplicate utensils in your drawers. Keep a maximum of three spatulas, three whisks, one can opener and one corkscrew, it says, and donate the rest.

Now, throw away junk that’s collected in the kitchen such as condiment packets, takeout menus, orphaned Tupperware lids and extra glass jars. Toss old rags and sponges, used candles, and expired canned goods and spices. Finally, get rid of anything chipped or less-than-perfect, and file away that refrigerator artwork to make space for a new selection of masterpieces.

The second phase of the kitchen streamlining project should store occasional-use items such as party platters, pie tins, apple peelers, melon ballers, cake stands and pastry bags somewhere other than the kitchen. You may need some of these things for Thanksgiving, the story notes, but taking inventory ahead of time will help you find them exactly when they’re needed.

To keep the home clutter-free for the big day, The Spruce suggests creating a complete “game plan” for the feast and keeping the decorations minimal. Arrangements of mums, fresh fruit, shell nuts and fall gourds make for a simple, seasonal scheme. If you already have lots of Thanksgiving-themed decorations, consider which may be starting to look a bit shabby and get rid of them.

As you streamline your kitchen and decorate your space ahead of the holiday, set aside those kitchen utensils, appliances and other goods you no longer need and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. Before you know it, your house will be free of some of that clutter and full of family and friends — and that’s what makes lasting memories.

Plan Ahead for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Hosting a holiday feast? Plan your menu now to ease the stress. Divide your grocery list into perishables and nonperishables and buy the latter this week; closer to Thanksgiving Day, pick up the produce, dairy products and bird. Make space for it all by cleaning out any unused or expired leftovers and condiments—just like you would clean your closets when you donate to ClothingDonations.org.