Ohmygosh. You just scraped the last of the jack o'lantern off the front porch step, and it's already time to plan the Thanksgiving menu. Then you'll be thrust into full holiday madness.
What's a temporally-challenged hostess to do? OK. Take some deep breaths and let's get organized.
Preparing for holiday entertaining involves little more than fine-tuning a few little pesky details now and holiday entertaining will be a piece of cake.
Got guests coming for Thanksgiving dinner? Or for the first night of Hanukkah? Maybe you're having a holiday cocktail party.
Don't wait till the guests RSVP to begin your preparations. Here are things you can do ahead so you can be cool, calm and collected when you open the door.
Get out the silver utensils, serving dishes and candlesticks and give them a good polishing.
Place a clean cotton tube sock on your polishing hand. Dampen the sock slightly under cool running water. Squeeze a pearl-size drop of toothpaste on your "gloved" fingertip. Apply the toothpaste to the silver using up-and-down rather than circular strokes until the tarnish is gone.
Use a twisted bit of rag or a toothbrush to get between silverware tines and other tight spaces. Rinse the silver well and polish it dry with the clean, dry side of the sock.Store silverware in an airtight plastic bag or in a chest lined with tarnish-resistant flannel.
Avoid serving sulfur-containing foods such as mayonnaise and eggs from your silver platter - they'll cause tarnishing.
Save time by popping the holiday china and crystal in the dishwasher several days or weeks before the big event.
Then you don't have to worry about spots and dust when you're setting the table.
Did I say "dishwasher"? I sure did. Most modern china and crystal is dishwasher safe - as long as you load carefully so that pieces don't clank against each other.
If you have any reservations about their safety, test wash one piece before filling the racks. Hand wash heirlooms and pieces trimmed in gold or silver.
Inspect, clean, and iron your festive tablecloths, runners, napkins, and placemats.
Plan and/or order your centerpiece for your dining room table as well as other floral arrangements.
(Idea: Drape leftover Halloween pumpkins with autumn leaves and spray paint the whole thing gold for a very simple, elegant centerpiece.)
. Clean the hearth, fireplace screen or door and tools. Have wood and matches at the ready.
Your regular floor plan may not accommodate a host of people. Move furniture so to create intimate conversation areas as well as good traffic flow. Set up the bar in the living room or den to keep people out of the kitchen.
Go through your home and remove nonessentials from every surface. Put them in a box in the attic until after the holidays.
This action serves many purposes: It removes delicate items that visitors might inadvertently break. It clears surfaces for drinks. It clears surfaces for holiday decorations.
And finally, you might decide you can live without that junk and get rid of it for good.
Prepare the guest bedroom for overnighting holiday guests. Remove most of your personal items so the room will feel like their own during their stay. Empty drawers and closets so they can unpack.
Make sure they have an alarm clock, radio, reading lamp and some books or magazines. Leave a basket of fruits and snacks and some bottled water. Their room should be their little refuge if they need some down time (you might need some, too). Install a night light to prevent falls in strange rooms in the dark.
Wow! The house is looking great, isn't it? Preparing for holiday entertaining will make the season more enjoyable. Your holiday season is off to a good start!