Do ImmediatelyScrape and stack plates to create some order; run a load of dishes if you can.
Wash and put away sharp knives. “Leaving them in the sink or on a crowded counter can be dangerous with so many people around,” says Carlyn Berghoff, owner of the Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group, in Chicago, and a coauthor of The Berghoff Family Cookbook: From Our Table to Yours, Celebrating a Century of Entertaining (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $30).
Put away the leftovers, and pack up doggie bags for guests.
Do laterScrub pots and pans. After dinner, just scrape them and leave them to soak.
Clear the glasses from the table. “We leave them out so guests can enjoy their drinks until the very end,” says Jimmy Lambatos, co-owner of Footers Catering, in Denver.
Get all the meat off the turkey. “Give yourself time to relax before you do the final carving,” says Diane Morgan, author of The New Thanksgiving Table (Chronicle Books, $20).