Hosting Tips

How I Cleaned Up Thanksgiving in Record Time This Year

More feasting, less scrubbing.

By Camille Styles
thanksgiving cheese board

For the last 11 years, Adam and I have hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of our family. It’s one of our favorite days of the year, but it’s also a lot of prep and a lot of clean-up. 

This year, we hosted our annual gathering outside (thankful for Austin weather in November!) so that everyone feels safe in the current environment. The only downside is that it meant a new clean-up situation since we couldn’t all pile into the kitchen and tackle it together as a team. But, thankfully, I had some help.

As this was the first major holiday we’ve hosted since our two KitchenAid FreeFlex™ Third Rack dishwashers were installed, it was the perfect opportunity to put them to the test. I also wanted to set myself a fun challenge to see if I could clean up in record time this year, especially with the extra capacity of the third rack. But the big question was: Would I be able to get through all the dishes from the feast and the dessert, plus wine glasses, cookware, and serving platters? 

*this post is in partnership with KitchenAid

Camille Styles Thanksgiving table, earthy, natural, minimalist Thanksgiving table ideas

Here’s my simple strategy:

Before the Meal

I ran one load that included all the cookware, utensils, and trays I was done using. The KitchenAid dishwasher has a genius fast wash cycle if you need to wash and unload in a hurry. It even has dedicated spray jets to clean those hard to reach dishes. This meant I could have that small load washed, dried, and packed away before we ate so the dishwasher was ready for the dishes post-meal.

During the Meal

After we cleared the dishes I loaded them up right away including all of the serving trays, bowls, plates, water glasses, wine glasses, platters, cutlery, and any leftover cookware into the dishwasher—and low and behold, everything fit into one load. I was so surprised and relieved. 

As you’ll see in the photo above, the third, upper rack can fit a lot of mugs, serving dishes, and utensils. In fact, among the top brands out there, this KitchenAid® dishwasher features the largest third rack you’ll find in terms of a usable amount of space. Plus, the middle rack is perfectly designed for wine glasses, which has become one of my favorite features of the dishwasher—and yes, I can still close it!

One of the main selling points of this dishwasher is how quiet it is during a cycle so no one could even hear it as we continued to sip wine and chat. 

Kitchenaid dishwasher

In a recent Instagram poll, we asked: “how often do you let your dishes pile up in the sink?” with two answers to choose from: “No more than 1 day” or “2+ days… I hate dishes!” A resounding 81% of you said “no more than 1 day” with 19% choosing “2+ days… I hate dishes!” Well, I’m not a fan of dishes either, but my new dishwasher allows me to clean up fast without them piling up in the sink. It’s a gamechanger!

Camille Styles Thanksgiving table, earthy, natural, minimalist Thanksgiving table ideas

But, of course, my amazing dishwasher is just one part of the pre-and post-Thanksgiving clean-up. Read on for some more of my tried and true dinner party cleaning tips…

  • Clean and organize your kitchen so it’s ready for guests and all the cooking you’re about to do. This means cleaning out your fridge and pantry to make room for the ingredients and leftovers. Be sure to stock your fridge and pantry with the holiday essentials ahead of time, too.
  • Tidy and clean up the guest bathroom ensuring that you are also stocked with plenty of hand soap (sanitizer!), hand towels, tissues, and toilet paper.
  • Before guests arrive, do a quick dusting and vacuum of the common areas, especially the living and dining rooms. Arrange your seating for guests and plump up the throw pillows on the couch.
  • If you can find the time, consider washing the windows and mopping the floors in the kitchen. I also keep a handheld vacuum nearby to clean up any spills during the day and help reduce the post-party clean-up as much as possible.
  • Consider clearing out part of a nearby closet to store coats, umbrellas, and purses for your guests.
  • Close off the areas of your home that you haven’t had a chance to tidy yet or don’t want guests to enter including the master bed and bathroom, home office, or kids’ rooms.
  • Purchase containers ahead of time so you can send guests home with leftovers. I love these and these or mason jars if you’re looking for a sustainable option.

Camille Styles Thanksgiving table, earthy, natural, minimalist Thanksgiving table ideas

Kitchen cleaning doesn’t have to stress you out. Approach it in the same way you would any big project and plan ahead. The more you can do in advance, the less you have to do on the day which means more time with your friends and family—and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.