Readying your home for Thanksgiving

Taking on the Thanksgiving Day duties for the very first time can be an intimidating task. Between hosting visiting family members for the weekend and getting a perfect bird on the table in time, it can feel like there are far too many things that can go wrong. But with proper planning, and a little luck, your day will run smoothly. Here are a few tips to prepare your home and ensure things go off without a hitch this year.

There’s nothing worse than going to put your bird in the oven on Thursday morning only to discover that your roaster doesn’t fit.

— Adam Verwymeren

Have the Right Tools

Many people splurge on fancy carving knives or gravy boats, but a probe thermometer is probably the single most important tool you’ll have at your disposal on Thanksgiving Day. These oven-safe thermometers allow you to monitor your turkey’s progress in real time, sparing your from poisoning your guests or forcing them to eat a dried-out bird. Stick the probe into the deepest part of the thigh and set the alarm to go off at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to the thermometer, you’ll also want a good, sturdy roasting dish. Whether you buy or borrow one of these, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right fit for your oven. There’s nothing worse than going to put your bird in the oven on Thursday morning only to discover that your roaster doesn’t fit.

Ready the House

Hosting friends and family for the holiday will test the limits of your house’s square footage. However you can take a few steps to keep the place from feeling crowded and ensure your guests -- whether they are just staying for dinner or staying the whole weekend -- feel at home.

The focus is going to be on the dinner table and living room, so plan on moving unnecessary furniture out into the garage, shed or basement. If you’re hosting overnight guests, make sure you have plenty of fresh sheets and clean towels. Ready the guest bedroom a few days in advance to take the pressure off on the big day, and, if you’re planning on using an air mattress for your extra guests, make sure to check it well in advance for any leaks or holes. Clear out a few drawers and a bit of closet space so that your guests have a place to put their things.

Avoiding Disasters

For those that cook rarely, malfunctioning appliances can come as quite a shock on Thanksgiving Day. This is not the time to find out that your oven, microwave, or slow cooker don’t work, so make sure to test any and all appliances that you plan to use on the big day.

You also want to avoid any physical disasters, too, so make sure your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in working order, particularly if you plan on deep-frying your bird. And if you are using a deep frier for your turkey this year, make sure to do it outside. Clear a space on your driveway or some other patch of concrete, and never, ever deep fry on a wooden deck or inside your home or garage.

Making Everyone Feel at Home

Rambunctious kids running around the house will only make your day more stressful. So make sure you have something to entertain the little ones. Of course, you could put on a movie and sit them in front of the television, but why not put them to work and make them earn their share this year. Keep the kids busy with crafts, allowing them to put their mark on the dinner table with one of these holiday themed centerpieces.

For the adults, a TV tuned to football and a well-stocked bar will keep most of them happy. If you have a few football haters in the family, a second TV set up in another room or a few boardgames will keep the peace until dinner is served.