Cristal's Blog

20 Tips for Hosting a Stress-free Thanksgiving

November 17, 2021

Back to Articles


Closeup of a turkey baking in the oven

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

Whether you’re hosting just your immediate family this year or throwing the Thanksgiving bash of the century and inviting everyone you know, this great American meal doesn’t have to bring on anxiety and nerves. Yes, the preparations, the traveling and the family time can be a challenge. But hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving is possible.  

READ: Thanksgiving 2021: Santa Barbara Fun and Feasts

From décor to dessert, you can find smart tips from experts online, designed to save you time and a lot of headaches while creating an unforgettable experience for you and your guests. Or just follow my 20 tips. I’ve done all the work for you, and I’m happy to report that it is possible to breeze through the big day while impressing your guests.

  1. Plan your menu early, like today.
  2. Don’t forget to thaw the turkey in your refrigerator. Do this on Saturday, November 19th.
  3. Keep your menu simple, making the dishes you and your family like. Use tried and true recipes and defiantly don’t set your sights on 10 new recipes.
  4. Before the big shopping trips, list everything you’ll need including things like a meat thermometer, turkey baster, and disposable turkey pan.
  5. Don’t forget to include a backup jar of gravy for seconds or thirds.
  6. Just like so many things in life, a successful Thanksgiving dinner is all in the prep. Go ahead and prepare a few side dishes ahead of time. Here’s a prep tip: pie crusts will last in the freezer for an entire month.
  7. Since hosting requires a lot of energy, make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
  8. Get some help and ask a family member or your staff to set the table the night before.
  9. Timing is everything, especially at Thanksgiving. It’s essential to make a plan for your oven and stovetop in advance.
  10. When it comes to all the dishes that cook at the same temperature, put them all in the oven at the same time.
  11. Make sure to hire a bartender. If you don’t, have drinks on hand in big, punch-bowl-sized batches. That way, you can spend your time enjoying your guests instead of making them drinks all night.
  12. If children are in attendance, make sure to set up a craft table, with some yummy snacks for them. That way, they’ll remain happily occupied and out of the kitchen.
  13. Don’t forget to plan some me-time before your guests arrive. Everyone needs a little space to relax on Thanksgiving. Anyway, your calm mindset will set a positive tone for the whole day.
  14. When it comes to getting dressed, think festive and functional and make sure you are comfortable. Forget about those tight pants. Go for something a little giving!
  15. Your appetizers and drinks, both adult beverages and some non-alcohol favorites should be ready and waiting when guests arrive. That will encourage mingling while buying some extra kitchen time.
  16. When it comes to desserts, stack them on a plate next to forks, spoons, and coffee cups and set your decadent delights aside in another room. As soon as the dinner plates are cleared, you can easily pull out our desserts!
  17. Make sure to have plenty of takeout-style containers handy. You know, the ones you’ll need for leftovers so your guests can take some of the holiday magic home with them.
  18. Set up your own house rules. This one is good: the cook does not clean. Just hire someone to take care of the cleanup while you enjoy your guests.
  19. When you sit down for dinner, why not start a tradition of asking everyone present to share what they’re thankful for.
  20. Go ahead and treat yourself to a glass of bubbly in advance. You deserve a special personal toast for all your hard work!

READ: Selling a Montecito Home This Fall or Winter?

By following these 20 tips, I promise you will be hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving that your guests will never forget. Want to add to my 20 tips? I’d love to see your suggestions! Just email them to me at May you and yours have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!

Back to Articles


Client Reviews

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch