Six Tips for Staying Sane and Organized Around Thanksgiving Houseguests

If you’re hosting a big dinner or having family in from out of town, Thanksgiving can also be a really disruptive and stressful time. Janine Adams of Peace of Mind Organizing has some tips to help you cope.

By Janine Adams, CPO®

Thanksgiving is a joyous time for enjoying loved ones and, well, giving thanks. But if you’re hosting a big dinner or having family in from out of town, it can also be a really disruptive and stressful time. It doesn’t have to be that way. In order to maintain some order (and your sanity!) around the holiday, consider trying some of these strategies:

Create some routines (now!) that will help you maintain order effortlessly. Examples include:

Running the dishwasher every night and emptying it every morning so that it’s ready to receive dirty dishes throughout the day.

Wiping down the bathroom fixtures every morning before you finish in there. Just one minute with an antibacterial wipe will leave your sinks, faucets and toilet company-ready.

Scan the living areas in the evening and put away the clutter that’s accumulated during the day. Do this every night before bed and it will become automatic.

Clear the dining room or kitchen table every night before bed. If you’re going to be eating breakfast there in the morning, consider setting it for breakfast. That will come in handy when you have house guests.

Assign a home for your stuff. The old adage that you should have “a place for everything and everything in its place” is as true now as ever. But you not only have to have a home for items, you have to take the next step and put them away. If you’re not in the habit of doing that, try to work on it before guests arrive. That way, it will be very easy for people to help you by getting things out for you (and putting things away). And it results in neat and orderly home that guests love.

Get rid of clutter before guests arrive.
If you have more stuff than you have room to store it, you have clutter. Now’s a good time to declutter. Check out the free “Quick Clutter Fix” audio I created with life coach Shannon Wilkinson for some emergency help.

Enlist the help of others. When you have a houseful of guests, you can assign them tasks to ease the burden on you.  If you have some routines in place and assigned a home for everything, it can be easy to delegate.

Set limits and boundaries. It’s really tempting to strive to be a perfect host or hostess. But that can drive you nuts. If your guests ask for more of you than you’re comfortable giving (be it time or resources), smile and come up with an alternative for them. If this has been a problem for you in the past, try to think of some strategies in advance for maintaining comfortable boundaries.

Take time for yourself. If you’re accustomed to some peace and solitude during the day, carve out a little of it even when you have a houseful of people. If need be, drive to a comfy coffee shop (take your laptop or a book) and enjoy some tea or coffee without having to talk with anyone. (No explanation necessary; just tell your guests you have to run an errand.) Another strategy is to politely decline to go on outings with the entire family. Instead, stay home and savor the silence.

Janine Adams is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing in St. Louis. Together with life coach Shannon Wilkinson, she offers the e-course Declutter Happy Hour. She’s @janinea on Twitter.