Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Give yourself something to be thankful for by maximizing the time you spend enjoying the day with family and friends.

Take some of these tips for hosting with minimal cleanup.

Plan ahead. Space tasks throughout the month. Some grocery items cannot be bought too far in advance, but many can. Think about non-perishable items, like tablecloths, napkins, centerpieces and canned goods.


Set the table the day before. When it comes to cooking, prepare whatever you can the day or two before and reheat when needed. If you prefer your dishes to be made fresh, you can still prep in other ways. Wash and cut all of your produce so that the day of, you can just toss them into the recipe. This will leave you with fewer colanders, cutting boards and knives to clean that day.

Use easy-clean (or disposable) plates. Even though your fine China may get minimal use throughout the year, the holidays are better spent with family and friends than in the kitchen hand-washing dishes. To keep it feeling more like a holiday and less like a backyard barbecue, use non-disposable utensils wrapped in cloth napkins.

Utensils are easy to throw in the dishwasher, and you can toss the napkins in the wash. If you just can’t bear the thought of disposable plates, use dishwasher-safe ones instead. Rather than rinsing the food bits off by hand, load the dishwasher all at once and run the rinse-only cycle immediately. You can run a full cycle later.

Say yes. Your guests will ask you if they can help or what they can bring. Ask them to bring side dishes, dessert and pupus. Think about each guest when delegating. Does Anthony tend to arrive late? If so, have him bring dessert instead of a pupu. Remember, too, that you will probably need your oven. Let your guests know that your oven will be in use so to please bring items that will not require baking.

When dinner is over, do not feel guilty for saying yes when a guest asks to help with cleanup. Assigning simple tasks like clearing the table and doling out doggy bags will allow your guests to continue to mingle while also lending you a hand.

Ask guests to bring their dishes on serving plates. Each serving dish a guest brings is one less for you to clean later. Bonus: After the meal, they can use their serving dish to pile on the leftovers to take home.


Have a question or comment for Joanne? Email her at