TABLE OF CONTENTS
IS HARDWOODALL IT’S CRACKED UPTO BE? If you want the look of hardwood floors without breaking the bank, there are several alternatives to consider — some with added benefits like increased durability and water resistance. DESIGNYOUR CHILD’S DREAM ROOM Planning a cost-effective design that will meet your child’s evolving tastes over time can be a big undertaking. But fortunately, you can make design choices that will work for your child’s room well into the future.
HOME OFFICES MADE SIMPLE
Are you new to the world of work from home or homeschooling? Follow these tips to put together your perfect home office or school space.
THE ULTIMATE THANKSGIVING SURVIVAL GUIDE:
First time hosting Thanksgiving? Don’t sweat! Follow these 10 tips to host a stress- free event your guests will swoon over.
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IsHardwoodAll It’s Cracked Up to Be?
3 Wood-Floor Alternatives for Budget-Savvy Homeowners
According to market-research firm Mintel’s report on residential flooring, hardwood flooring continues to be America’s flooring of choice. In fact, Remodeling Magazine reports 87% of buyers want hardwood floors in their homes. And it’s no wonder — hardwood
floors are timeless, luxurious, and for the most part, highly durable. But that luxury also comes with a hefty price tag — between $5 and $14 per square foot for both traditional and engineered wood flooring, depending on the type of wood. Plus, professional installation can cost up to $10 per square foot. While hardwood floors do offer a
fairly high return on investment — between 70-80% of the project cost — if you want the look of hardwood floors without breaking the bank, there are several alternatives to consider — some with added benefits like increased durability and water resistance.
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Laminate Laminate has long been one of the most popular — and least expensive — alternatives to wood flooring. Laminate closely resembles the look of wood and comes in a variety of styles, sizes and textures — plus varying degrees of durability. Traditional laminate is made up of several layers, with a photographic applique applied to the surface layer designed to replicate wood (or another material). Some laminate flooring actually uses a super-thin slice of wood known as a veneer, which is then covered in a clear protective coating. Some laminates are designed to be scratch-proof or water resistant, making them a popular choice among homeowners with children and pets.
Vinyl Planks Vinyl plank flooring is one of the most innovative products to hit the market in the last decade. These planks look and feel like hardwood, but they have the added bonus of being waterproof. Some, more luxury, varieties also come with a scratch-proof finish. Pet owners and parents alike are increasingly choosing vinyl plank flooring to stand up to daily spills and pet messes. Unlike hardwood, there isn’t a huge urgency to clean messes on vinyl planks because the spills from liquids won’t penetrate the material’s surface.
recommended for main living areas.
If you’re looking for a gray or white- washed wood look, tiles are a great options because they start with a white base and won’t show red or yellow undertones over time. Plus, tiles are completely spill-proof and easy to mop or wipe clean. Material Cost: $0.45-$3 per square foot (ceramic); $3-$10 per square foot (porcelain) Installation Cost: $5-$7 per square foot
Material Cost: $0.70-$2 per square foot Installation Cost: $2-$8 per square foot Wood-look Tiles Wood-look tiles aren’t a new
product, but they’ve recently seen a surge in popularity, especially for those living in warmer climates — they tend to be cooler on your feet, so they aren’t necessarily
Material Cost: $2-$7 per square foot Installation Cost: $2-$8 per square foot
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Rooms That Shouldn’t Have Hardwood
Despite their natural beauty, hardwood floors are notoriously bad in water-prone areas. If your heart is set on authentic wood flooring, you may want to reconsider in the following rooms:
Kitchens: While the popularity of wood floors in kitchens is on the rise, kitchens are also notorious places for spills and moisture. Tiles are much more practical — and there are even wood-look tiles and vinyls that have the appearance of wood but can stand up to water damage. If you insist on hardwoods in your kitchen, consider engineered over traditional hardwood — it handles moisture better.
Bathrooms: Showers, bathtubs and toilets can all cause big water messes — not to mention consistent steam from daily showering. Again, opt for vinyls or tiles.
Foyers/Mud Rooms: While hardwoods can make a great first impression when people enter your home, these are also highly vulnerable areas, especially on rainy or snowy days. If you opt for hardwoods in these areas, be sure to lay out protective area rugs for guests to dry or take off their shoes.
Laundry Rooms: Between potential water, bleach and
detergent spills, laundry rooms are a major danger zone for wood floors. Tiles will stand up best in a laundry room.
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HomeOffices Made Simple
Going to work or school without leaving the house? Try these tips.
Consider the space. The first and most important task in preparing your home office is deciding where you’re actually going to put it. There are a few things to take into consideration to find the best spot for a home office: Who is going to be using the office? Does it need to be accessible to the kids?
A functional home office space is paramount these days, whether you’re working hard on your own professional goals or helping the kids with their virtual lessons. It’s also easier to pull off than you think. Even if your house is small — even if you live in an apartment or condo — you can still devise a space that will pique your family’s productivity. It’s just a matter of having the right strategy.
How much space will the desk, chair and other equipment take up? Where in your home are there minimal distractions? Where in your home is the most natural light? Where in your home will the home office not be in the way of other “traffic?”
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Upgrade your dining room chair. We aren’t judging you for sitting on a stool you pulled over from the kitchen bar or an ottomon from the living room while you type emails and finish projects. We’re simply telling you that it’s time for an upgrade. Your back and the rest of your body will thank you for proper office equipment. Go ahead and check out Amazon, Office Depot or another retailer of your choice for a comfortable, ergonomic chair that won’t lead to aches, pains and slouching. Equally important is a desk that is the right height for your hands and wrists. If you happen to be sharing a workspace with a young family member for school, try an adjustable height desk. Consider your accessories. Accessories are important for a home office. Think back to your childhood and how exciting it was to shop for supplies when it was time to go back to school — finding the right items makes your home office more functional and fun. Instead of just grabbing any old random pen and sheet of scratch paper from the playroom, treat yourself (and the kids, if it’s a school space) to a few new items. Here are our favorite suggestions:
Experts suggest not cramming a home office into the smallest and least-used space if that space is not ideal. Don’t be afraid to rearrange furniture or even entire rooms to get a great home office. While it might be a pain to sell the guest room twin bed on Facebook and get a futon, the long-term benefit of working peacefully (and the kids getting good grades!) is greater than the short-term hassle. Bring in light and something pretty to look at. In a perfect world, everyone would have a bright, sunny window in front of their desks and a grove of green trees — perhaps with a stream? — to gaze at whenever inspiration for work runs dry. However, there are other ways to brighten up and beautify your home office. If there’s no window to be had, you can make the area brighter by bringing in plenty of lighting — the key is to keep the space from being too dim, which can cause headaches and eye strain. Also, if you don’t have a window view, the next best thing is a wall painted with a color that makes you happy and some well-placed artwork. Don’t put up family photos and things that will distract you. Stick to landscapes, abstracts and pieces you can “get lost in” while you think.
Colored highlighters for making notes
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Pens in black and blue ink — plus red if you’re facilitating lessons for the kids
Gather and hide all cords. Make sure your cords are neatly tucked into one spot and out of the “tripping hazard” zone. Use folders and file organizers. To keep items neatly tucked and labeled, you can never have too many two-pocket folders and file organizers. Create a work-only zone. Perhaps the most important part of creating your home office is treating it as a home office. Have a sit-down with the kids (and spouse, if needed!) and explain that this area is for working only. If the space is going to be shared between kids and other family members, determine who will use the space at what times of day or evening. Lay down a few hard and fast rules, such as no eating food in the home office; no interruptions unless it’s absolutely crucial; no leaving behind a mess for the next person; and whatever else makes sense for your family. With a little ingenuity and flexibility, you’ll end up loving your home office — and maybe even getting more done than you did at the real office.
A water bottle for staying hydrated during the day A clock, so you don’t have to look at a phone Fun notebooks or notepads Stay organized. Staying organized is no easy task, and when multiple family members are sharing the same office space, it can become even more difficult. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep clutter to a minimum and productivity at a maximum. Get a paper shredder. Stacks of paper sitting around on the desk that no longer have any use — such as notes from
an old interview — are best shredded and disposed of.
Add shelving to the walls. No more floor space? No problem. Floating shelves can keep things neat and tidy without sacrificing any of your floor space. Use shelves for stowing books, supplies, knickknacks and more. You can also use shelves to keep “his and hers” separate if you share the space with a spouse.
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8 Ideas to Design Your Child’s Room
for the Future
Consider Your Child’s Changing Needs
As children grow, their likes and interests change — as do their home decorating preferences. If you put a lot of money into designing your 4-year-old daughter’s dream room— complete with bubble gum pink walls and princess mural — chances are, she’s going to outgrow it pretty quickly. Planning a cost-effective design that will meet your child’s evolving tastes over time can be a big undertaking. But fortunately, you can make design choices that will work for your child’s room well into the future.
that can be easily transformed later on is to start with a neutral base and add items or make design choices to enhance it. Here are some design ideas to help you create a room your child will love now and for years to come.
Before we dive into this article, it’s important to evaluate what you’re hoping to achieve in the space now and in the future. Does your child’s room currently double as a playroom? Will he or she need space to do school work? The layout and function of the room should match the needs of your child and family. Start by listing all of your child’s needs in the space and figure out how you’ll accommodate them. The key to completing a design
1. Utilize Accent Walls.
Accent walls have gained popularity in recent years because they allow you to use pops of color without overwhelming a space. You can paint 3 out of 4 walls a neutral color, then add a pop of color on the 4th wall that your child will love.
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Wall decals - Wall decals are easy to apply and remove when your child wants a change. You can order custom decals with your child’s name or choose decals based on your child’s interests. 2. Use Furniture as Decor. Furniture doesn’t just have to be practical. You can find plenty of pieces that will turn a neutral room into an exciting space for your kids.
Accent walls not only provide a pleasing aesthetic, but they also set you up for the future. You can change up the accent wall as your child grows and changes his or her style preferences, rather than repainting the entire room every few years. There are an endless stream of options for creating an accent wall. Here are some fun choices for your child’s room. Wallpaper - You no longer have to shudder at the idea of adding wallpaper to your home. Using wallpaper on an accent wall is a tasteful, yet bold, way to enhance your space, and it has never been easier to apply and remove. Plus there are lots of options — everything from glitter prints to subtle patterns. Chalkboard walls - Drawing on the wall is no longer a crime! There are paints available to transform any wall into a chalkboard wall that can easily be wiped clean. This is a fun design choice that kids love. Plus, it has staying power — preteens and teens can use it to write their favorite motivational quotes or song lyrics. It looks awesome and can be a really helpful learning tool for younger kids to practice writing their letters and numbers.
in their favorite color or pattern. If you have the space, put in a child- size table and chairs for crafting or having a tea party. Consider adding fun pieces like tents or easels. Find some older furniture pieces (try Facebook marketplace or Craigslist) and turn them into an art project. If your child is set on a bright yellow room but you don’t want to commit to yellow walls, let them paint their furniture. You could even paint the furniture a base color and make a fun project out of flinging different paint colors at it for a splatter effect.
For younger kids, purchase a bean bag chair or child-size lounge chair
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3. Get Smart with Storage If you find yourself short on space, there are creative ways to store items and make more room. Consider using vertical storage to overcome this obstacle, and store away items in closets, drawers and bins when possible. If you are designing a room for multiple siblings, consider bunk beds. Not only do they save space, but kids love them. (Just make sure your kids won’t be constantly fighting over who gets the top bunk!) Storage doesn’t have to be an eyesore. You can find stylish toy boxes or hanging shelves that turn your “things” into a design choice. Utilize hooks on the wall that your children can reach to hand up their toys or backpacks. Install a basketball hoop on the wall above a laundry basket to encourage kids to put away their dirty clothes. Remember that bean bag chair I mentioned before? There are actually bean bags designed to store stuffed animals, so you can give your kids a fun chair and control the mess all at once. Small and fun ideas like these can enhance your space but also make it practical and easy to maintain. 4. Use Pops of Color to Liven Up the Room. Bring your kids to the store and let them pick out a fun painting or bedspread as the center of their room design. You can use
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the colors in those pieces as an accent in other places throughout the room. Curtains, rugs, lamps, piggy banks, pillows, picture frames and more can provide opportunities for color throughout your child’s room without committing to an entire room of bright walls or flooring. The benefit of keeping the color in the accents is that you can easily swap them out in the future as your child’s tastes change. 5. Use Toys as Decor. Your kid’s toys are most likely already there, colorful, and reflect what your child loves. Find ways to place them, when not being used, around the room to boost the space. Put dolls on wall-mounted shelves or build a storage wall of cubbies where the toys can add pops of color to the space. Organize toys by color to create a rainbow effect along the wall.
6. Enhance the Ceiling.
Ceilings aren’t often factored into a room design, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be! To liven up the space, you can paint a pop of color on the ceiling, just like an accent wall, or you can even apply a fun wallpaper. A timeless pattern or design will enhance a space without overwhelming it, since most people only really see the ceiling in their peripheral vision.
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For young kids, try adding glow- in-the-dark decals in the shape of their favorite characters or to mimic the night sky. They are easy to put on and take off, and many brands are designed not to damage your walls. 7. Think About the Floor. A lot of people have consistent flooring throughout their home, but you can add rugs or carpet squares (which your child can rearrange in a number of ways) to mix it up in your child’s room. Get a rug with
a map or fake road. Your child will have hours of fun “driving” their toy cars or “exploring” the world right on the floor. 8. Don’t Forget the Magic. Your child’s room should be their oasis away from all the worries of the world. That means it should be a place they love to go that brings them joy. If your child loves astronomy, hang some planets and stars from the ceiling.
Instead of a traditional night light, hang colorful holiday lights around their room. If you have space, consider hanging a swing seat from the ceiling for your child to lounge in and read his or her favorite book. Hang a cork board where your kids can show off their latest artwork or hang pictures with their friends. A child’s room should be practical, but fun. When you’re designing their space, don’t forget to tap into your inner child. And of course, keep your child involved, and listen to what they want. It’s their room after all, and they will spend the most time there.
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Your Official Thanksgiving Survival Guide:
10 Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Dinner
Thanksgiving is the biggest dinner party night of the year. It’s a time for loved ones to gather and reflect on what they’re most thankful for. Getting your home ready for Thanksgiving typically requires a lot more prep than any other dinner party.
prep the main course, plan the sides, figure out where everyone will sit, and possibly prepare overnight accommodations. (I’m getting stressed just thinking about it!) If you’re a new homeowner or just recently upgraded to a bigger home, hosting may be the last thing on your mind — even if you’ve already committed to it for the first time.
But don’t panic! We’ve put together a list of tips to help you not only survive your first Thanksgiving hosting gig, but make your celebration one your family will remember for years to come.
You need to clean and decorate your home, shop for ingredients,
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Tip #1: Coordinate and communicate about parking. Most people don’t think about parking when they’re preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. But if you have a lot of guests coming over (and if your neighbors do, too), it’s important to be prepared. Instead of waiting until the last minute, evaluate your parking needs a few weeks before the big day. If you have family members who can carpool, ask them to do so. You can also offer to drive some family members if they live close to your home. Figure out how many cars can realistically park in your driveway and on the street outside your home. If you have guests who have trouble walking, make sure they
can park close to your home. If guests have young children, they might prefer to park toward the end of the driveway so they can make a quick escape when the kids get tired. Coordinating your parking might involve talking to some of your neighbors to see if they will also be having guests over. You may find that some of your neighbors are going somewhere else for dinner and might let you use their driveways for your guests. Most importantly, communicate with your guests ahead of time about where they should park. Tip #2: Keep track of the number of guests and RSVPs. You can start planning ahead by keeping track of who is invited,
who is coming, and who has yet to give you an answer. The sooner you have a solid list, the sooner you can finalize your preparations and shopping lists. If you don’t know how many people are coming, you won’t have the right number of seats and may not have enough food to serve everyone. Tip #3: Plan out your menu well in advance. Thanksgiving is all about the food, so it’s naturally the biggest part of your preparation. If this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving, I don’t recommend taking big risks or straying from a traditional menu. People expect certain food items in a Thanksgiving meal, so make sure you have the basics covered
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Simple and Cost-Effective Ways to Decorate for Thanksgiving Hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money making over your home. There are plenty of simple things you can do to prepare your house for guests without spending a lot of money. Here are some simple and cost-effective ways to decorate for Thanksgiving. Use what you already have. Look around your home to see what you may already own that could fit into a fall theme. Colors like brown, red (cranberry), orange, dark green, and copper will all work. Don’t clean your yard if it has colorful leaves. Be lazy for once. Sweep your pathway, but don’t rake up your leaves. Let them cover your yard to create a picturesque fall setting. After dinner, you can rake them into a pile and let the kids jump into them. Add window boxes to the front of your home. Adding these boxes is fairly inexpensive, and you can place
before you try something out of the ordinary.
and ask people what they’d like to make from the list. You can also ask for dish ideas from attendees. Someone might have a favorite family recipe they’re itching to make. Don’t forget to ask your guests ahead of time about any allergies to avoid a potentially disastrous situation. And if people are bringing their own dishes, make sure they know about any restrictions, as well. Last but not least, don’t forget to plan the drinks. Make sure you have a variety of alcoholic and non- alcoholic beverages available.
Ask yourself if you can successfully make everything on your menu before you decide to serve it. The answer should be a resounding yes. If you hesitated before answering, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Another idea is to prepare the dish a few days ahead of time as a test run. Hosting a dinner is stressful enough without trying to prepare everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to make your meal a potluck-style Thanksgiving. Put together a list of dishes you need people to make
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Tip #4: Prep as much as you can ahead of time. If you can prepare any dishes the day before Thanksgiving, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and stress before your guests arrive. Mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes and some desserts are foods that will stay well overnight. But if you don’t have time to do any cooking ahead of time, there are still plenty of things you can do to get ready for the big meal. You can pre-chop vegetables and organize your ingredients in the refrigerator by dish so when the time comes to make them, you won’t be digging around for the right ingredients. The goal of planning your meal ahead of time is to make your Thanksgiving day as enjoyable as possible. Chances are, things will come up or something will pull you away from the kitchen. Planning ahead of time can help you stay on track.
the ingredients you’ll need to purchase. If you’re following a recipe online, be sure to check the comments, since some people will suggest helpful tips or additional ingredients to enhance the original recipe. Make sure you go to the store far enough in advance that the ingredients you need won’t be sold out. If you’re a savvy shopper, download or cut out your coupons in advance and look for the best deals to know when to shop. Tip #6: Manage cooking and hosting at the same time. The first thing to do is to create a cooking schedule. Read through each of your recipes and make a game plan for how you’ll tackle them. If you know the turkey will take five hours, map out when you’ll start the sides in that timeframe and how much down time you’ll have between dishes.
Make sure you have enough burners and oven space available at any time to complete your meal. You should aim for everything to be ready around the same time. When guests start to arrive, don’t be afraid to ask for some help with any last-minute serving or preparations. Most guests will
be more than happy to help you out. This way, you can catch up and still be productive.
Tip #5: Grocery shop efficiently.
There’s no need to be intimidated by your Thanksgiving shopping trip, as long as you have a detailed list when you go to the store. Simply go through each of your recipes and make a list of
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Thanksgiving decorations into them. This is another way to give your front yard a perfect seasonal vibe. Things like decorative gourds, squash, or pumpkins can be purchased at a local farm festival to place inside. Add fall-themed candles throughout your home. This is a simple way to add a festive smell and tasteful accents to your home. Pick candles of different heights and place them over fresh- picked leaves or around some pinecones to create a beautiful centerpiece ( just make sure these items aren’t too close to the flame). You can move them out of the way when the food is served. Mulch your flower beds. Putting out fresh mulch on beds may take a couple of hours, but doing so will greatly enhance your landscaping. Rake the mulch to create a smooth look, and be sure to brush or power wash away any dirt that ends up on your pathways. Hang fall wreaths. These can go inside and out. The outside ones will invite your guests into your cozy home, and the inside ones will bring another touch of fall to your decor. Wreaths can be hung on doors, gates, mailboxes, or sheds, and they can even be used as table decorations.
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Tip #7: Pay attention to the stove. The kitchen is the center of everything on Thanksgiving. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the number one day in America for cooking fires. Keep track of your pots and pans, and make sure nothing boils over or overheats in the oven. Place potholders and towels away from the stovetop, and make sure nothing gets bumped into the path of an open flame. The last Tip #8: Keep your kids occupied. If you and your spouse are both cooking, set a schedule for when each of you will spend time with or check on the kids (depending on how old they are). Young children may need extra supervision with so much cooking going on in the kitchen, so enlist some family members to take them out of the house for the day if possible. If your children are older, buy some fun new games they can play together while you cook, or get them involved in the food preparation. Years from now, they could be the ones hosting you, after all! And remember, there’s nothing wrong with a little extra screen time when you’re trying to keep your kids safe and entertained.
thing you need is a visit from the fire department when you’re trying to enjoy time with family and friends. Here’s another fire safety tip. If something happens to catch fire on the stove, never use water to put it out. Instead, use baking soda, a fire extinguisher, or smother the flame with the lid of a pot. If a fire starts in your oven, just turn the oven off and keep the door closed. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher on hand and know how it works.
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Tip #9: Plan how to set the table. This is a fun job you can give to your kids to keep them occupied. If you plan to host Thanksgiving every year, you can invest in some Thanksgiving-themed place settings and decor. Find a nice tablecloth, preferably in fall colors, and add fun touches like miniature pumpkins or gourds. If you’re really ambitious, you can also find Thanksgiving-themed dinnerware. Special touches like these go a long way. Make sure you have gravy boats, ladles, serving dishes and other items you might not typically use on a standard dinner night. If you don’t have these items and don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can ask family members to borrow them.
Use seasonal throw pillows. This is another simple way to change up your room’s color scheme and make your home more festive. Pillows in a variety of fall colors can be found at retail stores for a low price. A good buyer tip is to purchase Thanksgiving decor after the holiday for the following year when it’s on clearance. Get or make holiday napkin rings. Here’s a fun tip. You can use shower curtain rings as napkin holders. Wrap some festive ribbon around them and secure the end with a hot glue gun. You can also wrap twine around the rings for a more rustic autumn look. If you aren’t into arts and crafts, you can find inexpensive holiday napkin rings in most retail stores.
Make your own table centerpiece.
This is a great chance to show how much thought you put into hosting. If you have a garden, pick some visually pleasing vegetables and arrange them on your table in a cornucopia. You can also look for brightly colored leaves, branches coated in lichen, and unbroken pinecones. You don’t need to spend days and a lot of money to put any of these ideas together. A little effort goes a long way, and your guests will be impressed with your innovation.
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Tip #10: Plan your cleanup. After you’ve prepared and eaten the meal, you might be ready to kick back and relax. But unfortunately, cleanup is a big part of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. If you were the primary meal preparer, put your spouse in charge of clean-up duty. If you are hosting family, don’t be shy about asking for help to clear plates and put away any leftovers. Most of the time, your guests will be more than willing to help out. Make your job easier by asking guests to bring their plates to the sink or designating someone as a dish
collector. If you have guests place their plates into hot soapy water, you’ll have less work to do rinsing them off. Another pro tip: Make sure to label your trash and recycling receptacles. Bonus Tip: Don’t stress! Thanksgiving is supposed to be a relaxing day to celebrate all the blessings you have. Don’t ruin your own holiday by overcomplicating it.
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