Problem: Your famous apple pie is waiting in the wings, but it’s impossible to clear the dishes and serve dessert simultaneously.
Solution: Take a coffee break between courses.
- When you set the table, create a dessert station on a buffet or a side table in the dining room with forks, plates, pie servers, and coffee cups. Get Thanksgiving dessert recipes here.
- At the same time, set up the coffeemaker. When you’re clearing the table after your dinner (now is the time to accept those offers of help), push the brew button.
- Smith and McDonagh suggest having the sugar bowl full and pitchers of milk and cream ready in the refrigerator so you can put it all out quickly.
Problem: Dinner is over and all you want to do is kick back with your guests, but you have a mountain of pots and dishes waiting for you in the kitchen.
Solution: As long as everything is soaking in sudsy water, you can put off the cleanup indefinitely (well, almost).
- Before guests arrive, make like a caterer and create a breakdown station in the corner of the kitchen, the utility room, or the garage.
- Set up a lined garbage can so you can throw food scraps right into the trash, and organize soaking stations so the food doesn’t dry out and harden on plates and pans.
- After dinner, fill big pots with soapy water. Use them for soaking smaller things and utensils. Use the cooler again, for soaking larger items.
- If you want the mess out of sight fast, Harlan suggests giving pots a rinse, stacking them in a plastic laundry basket, and hiding it in the bathtub to wash later. Just remember to close the curtain.