Thanksgiving is a welcome tradition, allowing friends and family to gather together and enjoy celebrating the holidays together. If you regularly host Thanksgiving you know that cooking, serving and cleaning up are massive tasks. So is preparing the home for houseguests. You can alleviate stress and mess by getting your home ready for the holidays and making sure your family and guests are safe in your home. And don’t miss more turkey day planning ideas in our handy Thanksgiving home tips checklist.

1. Respect your sink

Bones and vegetable peelings (and sometimes an errant fork) often become stuck in the disposal, causing a backup. Homeowners can alleviate all of these plumbing issues by not treating the garbage disposal like a garbage can. When preparing the meal, set out a large bowl for compost material (produce, food-soiled paper goods, coffee grounds, eggshells), regular garbage (animal skin, fat and bones), recycling (aluminum foil, paper, plastic and glass), and grease or oils. To easily dispose of grease simply drain it into a container with a lid and place it in the freezer until solid. When the grease is solid, pop it out into the garbage and clean the container. Read more about composting tips here.

2. Schedule a plumber

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers. Why? Sink drains and garbage disposals become clogged with animal fat and grease and starchy foods like rice and pasta swell in the drain and cause a sticky mess for pipes. Add to that added houseguests and you could have a plumbing disaster waiting to happen. If you already have slow drains, have a plumber snake the line before Thanksgiving Day.

3. Get ready for houseguests

If you have slow drains in the kitchen or bathroom, and are expecting houseguests, schedule a proactive plumbing appointment for a day or two prior the holiday. A licensed professional can inspect and snake problem areas and get them ready for the great deluge. If you plan on having overnight guests, make sure your bathrooms are well stocked with supplies and set out a garbage can in plain site. This will remind guests to not flush objects down the toilet that don’t belong there. Ask guests to allow about 15 minutes between showers to ensure proper drainage of pipes as well as allow hot water to sufficiently warm up.

4. Be mindful of younger (and older) guests

Hosting Thanksgiving may involve having family and friends of all age groups. If you are expecting small children or toddlers on Thanksgiving, and it’s been awhile since you’ve had a baby in the house, make sure you go through your home on your hands and knees and “see” your home from a toddler’s point of view. Cover exposed outlets, place dangerous or breakable objects up high, and consider asking the parents to bring a temporary gate if you have stairs. Older guests may also have trouble in an unfamiliar setting. Remove tripping hazards on the floor and have enough clearance between furniture and in hallways. It’s okay to make a couple of rooms in your home “off limits” and simply store away objects that you think might be in the way.

5. Get your tools ready

Sharpen your knives prior to the holiday preparation time. Dull knives can slip, causing painful cuts. You can easily sharpen knives at home with an inexpensive tool or take them into a shop to have them professionally serviced.   If you haven’t done so already, have your major appliances serviced. This may sound excessive however, the months of November and December are when dishwashers, ovens, stoves, washers and dryers, heating units and generators are heavily used. Trying to get a repairperson to your home a day before Thanksgiving is difficult, so schedule your appointments as soon as possible.

6. Mind your energy & water usage

Thanksgiving is a day of heavy energy and water usage for homeowners. Even with the oven, stove and TV in overdrive, you can still conserve energy. Don’t open the oven to check on your meal; opening the oven lowers the temperature inside and makes the oven work harder to raise the temperature again. Use the correct size pan for the stove. Using a 6” pan for an 8” range can waste up to 40% of energy.  Try not to overstuff your refrigerator. Not only is it unsafe for your food, your refrigerator will need to work extra hard to keep food at the ideal temperature. Unplug any appliances that you aren’t using so that “vampire” charges aren’t accumulating.

Not sure if it’s better to use the dishwasher or wash dishes by hand? The answer depends greatly on your dishwasher model and how fast you can actually hand wash. Read this great comparison from Treehugger and decide for yourself.  Having low-flow toilets and shower heads can save you a lot of money on your water bill, this is especially important when you have a house full of guests. If you needed a reason to have your toilets upgraded, now is a great time. You can purchase the toilets yourself and hire a plumber to install them in a single day.

7. Check smoke alarms

Holiday cooking and baking, along with candles and the distraction that parties create, can accidentally create unintentional fires. Before Thanksgiving, test your smoke alarms and make sure they are functioning in all areas. Have a small kitchen fire extinguisher in plain site (so any guest can use it) as well as near the fireplace or any exposed flames.

8. Climb with safety

Every year thousands of homeowners are sent to the emergency room after falling off a ladder. If you need to climb a ladder to clean your gutters or roof, or are trimming branches and hanging holiday lights, use caution. Always have another adult to help spot you or hold a ladder and if you are feeling unsafe, hire a pro who is expertly trained in ladder safety.

Print and save our Porch Thanksgiving Tips!

Top image credit: Walker Woodworking