12 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Thanksgiving


For many households, Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays of the year, both in terms of the number of guests and the amount of prep work needed. Getting your home ready to host Thanksgiving dinner requires more than tidying up, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms.

You’ll need to consider what Thanksgiving recipes you need to prepare, make time to shop for ingredients, plan ahead to thaw and roast your turkey and coordinate who’s bringing what side dishes and fixings. You’ll probably have far more dinner guests than you would for your average dinner party, so you’ll need to plan space for everyone to eat. And, if friends or family members are coming in from out of town, you may need to get the spare bedroom and other areas ready for overnight guests.

Use these 12 tips to make your Thanksgiving holiday a success.

1. PLAN YOUR MENU

Sure, you’ll most likely be serving many of the same holiday staples that everyone enjoys on Thanksgiving – turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole. But many families like to mix things up with dishes from their specific cultural backgrounds, vegetarian dishes, dishes for family members with allergies and food sensitivities, trendy dishes and so forth. Plan your Thanksgiving dinner menu several weeks in advance so you have an idea of what you’ll be preparing well before the holiday arrives.

2. WRITE YOUR GUEST LIST

You may be hosting the usual suspects, just like every year, or you may even decide to extend an invitation to friends, neighbors or others who don’t have anywhere to go for the holiday. Knowing in advance who will be present can help you plan the menu and seating arrangements.

3. CLEAN OUT YOUR FREEZER

You may need some extra freezer space for dishes that can be made ahead of time and frozen for the big day. Go ahead and toss out that old tub of gravy from last year – you’ll soon have a new one to replace it with.

4. SHOP AHEAD

Assuming you’ve planned your menu well in advance, you can save money on the holiday meal by watching for sales on non-perishable ingredients in the weeks before Thanksgiving. You’ll also be able to stock up on specialty ingredients before they run out.

5. PREPARE MAKE-AHEAD DISHES THAT CAN BE FROZEN FOR THE BIG DAY

Shopping ahead and cleaning out your freezer can help take some of the stress out of Thanksgiving Day by giving you the chance to make some of the dishes in advance. Prepared dishes can be popped into your newly cleaned freezer for as long as two months, ready to be pulled out and cooked on Thanksgiving Day.

6. CREATE A COOKING SCHEDULE

One of the most difficult aspects of cooking any meal is getting everything on the table at the same time. Review your Thanksgiving recipes and create a cooking schedule that breaks down the meal’s culinary challenges day by day and hour by hour. Some dishes, like pies, cakes, and sauces, can be cooked a day or two before Thanksgiving. You’ll need to start prepping other dishes, like the turkey, several days in advance; a large bird needs to be thawed in the refrigerator for about 24 hours per four to five pounds of meat.

7. FIGURE OUT WHO’S BRINGING WHAT

Delegating some of the cooking to your guests can make hosting Thanksgiving more manageable. Get together with guests to decide who’s bringing what side dishes, desserts and fixings so you can cross those off your list.

8. TASTE-TEST NEW DISHES

Are you trying something new this year? Better take the recipe on a test drive before Thanksgiving. Trying out the recipe will let you know whether it’s really any good and will give you valuable insight into how difficult and time-consuming it is to make. You may decide to strike it from the menu after making it once.

9. PLAN THE SEATING ARRANGEMENT

If you’re having a fair number of guests this Thanksgiving, seating everyone can be a challenge. Tackle the seating arrangement sooner, rather than later, so everyone has a place to sit.

10. DEEP CLEAN YOUR HOME

It’s a good idea to deep clean your whole home a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, so you can stick to a quick once-over the day before the holiday. If you don’t have time to deep clean your entire house, you should at least deep clean your bathrooms and kitchen.

11. PREPARE FOR OVERNIGHT GUESTS

Are family members or friends coming in from out of town? You’ll need to get guest bedrooms dusted and cleaned up, with fresh bedding on the beds and fresh towels in the bathrooms. Depending on how many guests are staying over, you may need to plan to put some people on couches or air mattresses.

12. GIVE YOUR HOME A LAST ONCE-OVER

The day before Thanksgiving, take the time to give your home a last cleaning before everyone gets there. Dust, sweep or vacuum common areas, tidy up, prepare your kitchen and clean the bathrooms.

Getting your home ready for Thanksgiving is no small chore. But if you follow this step-by-step list, you’ll host a Thanksgiving to remember.

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Things to Do in North Texas This Summer


The lazy days of summer will soon come to an end and it will be time for back-to-school. Be sure to explore all that North Texas has to offer and enjoy the final days of summer! 

Summer on Ice

Galleria Ice Skating Center | Dallas

Whether a novice or a triple-axel Olympic contender, it doesn’t get any cooler than enjoying a day on the ice. No reservations are required during public skate hours. While there, be sure to enjoy all the shopping and dining options Galleria Dallas has to offer.

Dallas Stars Community Ice | Multiple Locations

With eight locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, there are plenty of opportunities to stay cool on the ice. Public skating as well as hockey summer camps and clinics are offered. Even grownups can get in on the action by joining the Adult Rookie Program. 

Under the Sea

The Dallas World Aquarium | Dallas

A world of adventure in downtown Dallas’ historic West End district! Housing many animals that are threatened or endangered, conservation and education are at the center of the aquarium’s exhibits and programs. 

SeaQuest | Fort Worth

A land AND sea adventure, SeaQuest offers an exciting journey where guests are invited to touch, feed, and interact with over 1,200 animals from five continents. Come “sea” for yourself!

SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium | Grapevine

SEA LIFE Grapevine provides an immersive marine experience complete with a sea turtle rescue center, a stingray exhibit, and Texas’ only 360° ocean tunnel.

Destination Staycation

The Gaylord Texan Resort | Grapevine

Don’t want to travel too far from home for a great vacation? This impressive resort includes the 10-acre Paradise Springs Water Park, an exciting itinerary of activities and entertainment, onsite restaurants and bars, a luxurious spa, and over 4 acres of indoor garden atriums. 

Great Wolf Lodge & Waterpark | Grapevine

Experience glamping at Great Wolf Lodge with their Summer Camp-In event. Campfire sing-alongs, s’mores, pool parties, dance parties, character appearances and more are all included with an overnight stay. Day passes are also available for their 84-degree indoor water park.

Call of the Wild

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden | Dallas

Considered among the top arboretums in the world, the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum is located on the shores of White Rock Lake. A trip to the arboretum would not be complete without a visit to A Woman’s Garden with its various sculptures, infinity pool and flower water features. Pack a picnic and enjoy the lush lawn and seasonal flowers in Jonsson Color Garden. Every acre displays the beauty of the season.

The Dallas Zoo | Dallas-Oak Cliff

The non-profit, 106-acre Dallas Zoo is the largest and oldest zoo in Texas. Check out the many animal encounters available such as giraffe feedings and chats with the zoologists.  Go behind-the-scenes with a 90-minute Backstage Safari tour and see what daily life at the zoo is really like. There may even be special appearances by Winspear, the ambassador cheetah and his best friend, Amani, a labrador retriever!

Perot Museum of Nature and Science | Dallas

Five levels, 11 halls and countless exhibits dedicated to hands-on discovery, interactive kiosks, educational games and adventure. The Paleo Lab offers visitors real-time views of the dynamic dinosaur research being conducted at the museum. In the Sports Hall, athletics and science come together to study the physical and mental demands of great athletes. Embark on a journey through space in the Expanding Universe Hall. Discovery awaits!

Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is the oldest major botanic garden in Texas. The FWBG is composed of 25 specialty gardens and has long been known for its tropical, rose and Japanese gardens. Be sure to visit the Rose Garden, considered to be the most romantic garden and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Children will love the Native Texas Boardwalk with its 13 educational stations such as hollow log, speaking tubes, and balance beams. The Boardwalk also offers a shaded pathway from the northern gardens to the southern gardens.

The Fort Worth Zoo | Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Zoo is home to over 540 species including 148 bird species, 172 ectotherm species, and 72 species of mammals. As part of their  “Wilder Vision,” the zoo has set out to create new habitat space and renovate existing habitats. Habitats include African Savanna, Elephant Springs, Australian Outback, Flamingo Bay, Raptor Canyon and World of Primates to name just a few. 

Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary | McKinney

The 289-acre wildlife sanctuary is home to more than 240 species of animals and nearly 150 species of wildflowers. Enjoy night hikes, bird walks, zipline days, and summer nature camps.

Patron of the Arts

Dallas Museum of Art | Dallas

The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the 10 largest art museums in the country. The DMA’s international collection includes over 24,000 works representing world cultures throughout 5,000 years of history. The museum’s free general admission makes art and culture accessible to everyone.

Shakespeare in the Park | Dallas 

The tradition continues! Classically trained performers delight audiences at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre in East Dallas.  Affordable tickets and the ability to bring your own food and beverages make this a family-friendly experience. 

Kimbell Art Museum | Fort Worth

The Kimbell Art Museum hosts a permanent collection of masterpieces as well as international on-loan and traveling exhibitions. The museum also offers summer workshops, tours, lectures and happy hours.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Texas Rangers Baseball at Globe Life Field | Arlington

Root for the home team! Globe Life Field is climate controlled and you’ll never have to worry about weather delays on game day. Get the VIP treatment and go behind-the-scenes with a ballpark tour. While you’re in the area, check out Texas Live! This entertainment center features bars, restaurants, live music and the ultimate sports watching experience. Great for families and die-hard sports fans alike. 

Rough Riders Baseball at Riders Field | Frisco

Since 2003, the Frisco RoughRiders have served as the Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Riders Field is recognized as one of the best ballparks in Minor League Baseball with its village-like design which includes a lazy river. Check out the team’s schedule and game day promotions.

Kid At Heart

Explorium Denton Children’s Museum | Denton

Explorium offers a safe place for children to engage and explore through hands-on exhibits, multimedia and content-rich programs pertaining to science, technology, engineering, arts and math! Check out their list of events and summer camps. 

LEGOLAND Discovery Center | Grapevine

Perfect your ninja moves in the Ninjago City Adventure. Watch an awesome LEGO movie in the 4D cinema. Bring your swimsuit and cool off at Pirate Beach. More epic LEGO attractions await. 

Crayola Experience | Plano

With 60,000 square feet of attractions, Crayola Experience is Texas’ most colorful interactive and creative destination. Crayola enthusiasts can enjoy the activity studio, adventure lab, an indoor playground, and even watch as crayons are made live!

Thrills and Chills

Six Flags Over Texas | Arlington

Heart-racing roller coasters, family-favorites and kids rides – everyone will have a blast at Six Flags Over Texas! In between all the excitement, be sure to relax and enjoy one of the many live performances throughout the park. Indulge with a tasty treat or refreshing drink or shop for the perfect souvenir to commemorate your adventure.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor | Arlington

Thrilling water slides, relaxing pools, raging rapids, a lazy river and more are just a few of the ways to chill out at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Don’t forget to hydrate with a cool drink and icy treats! Your day of fun in the sun awaits.

Hawaiian Falls Waterpark | Multiple Locations

Waterslides, a lazy river, wave pool, and an interactive rain-fortress are a great way to cool off and each attraction is rated from easy and calm to intense and thrilling. Plan a visit to any one of the five locations throughout North Texas. 

How the West Was Won

Fort Worth Stockyards | Fort Worth

Relive the heyday of the wild west! Witness a real-life cattle drive. Watch drovers (cattlemen) as they demonstrate grooming and saddling a horse, roping and other horsemanship techniques. History buffs will enjoy the Stockyards Museum with its collection of artifacts, photos and exhibits documenting the importance of the stockyards to Fort Worth and Texas. Finally, be sure to grab some grub at any one of the many authentic Texas barbecue or Tex-Mex restaurants.

How ‘Bout Them Cowboys!

The Star | Frisco

The Star is the 91-acre Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and practice facility in Frisco. Do a touchdown victory dance on the 50-yard replica turf or catch a summer Movie Night at Tostitos Championship Plaza. The Star District is the perfect place to shop, dine and experience the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Walk. For the ultimate Dallas Cowboys experience, book a VIP Guided Tour.

Hail to the Chief

George W. Bush Presidential Center | Dallas

The museum showcases permanent and special exhibits that delve into the American Presidency and explore issues and policies that affect our country and our world. View a full-scale replica of the Oval Office as well as a 22-foot piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza | Dallas 

Located in the infamous Texas School Book Depository building, the museum chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Afterwards, take a narrated walking tour of Dealey Plaza and travel back in time to that fateful day in our nation’s history. 

Eat, Drink and Be Merry 

Dallas Farmers Market | Dallas

The Shed is an open-air market where you can shop for seasonal produce, artisan-baked goods, naturally raised meats, cheeses, eggs and honey. The Market is a 26,000-square-foot food hall complete with restaurants, specialty food stores and plenty of seating. Leashed dogs are welcome in The Shed and on The Market patios.

Trinity Groves | Dallas 

At the base of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is this established food destination in West Dallas. Trinity Groves is a 15-acre dining, shopping, artist and entertainment destination. Enjoy fresh seafood at AmberJax Fish Market Grill. Head to the rooftop lounge for a view of the Dallas skyline at Saint Rocco’s upscale Italian restaurant. For something a little more casual, grab a snack from any one of the food trucks on the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge. Don’t miss Trinity Overlook Park and Trinity Skyline Trails for even more great views as well as hiking, biking and picnics.

Toyota Music Factory | Irving

Centrally located in Irving, Toyota Music Factory offers food, music and movies all day and night. The Pavillion hosts various entertainers from comedic acts to blockbuster concerts. The restaurants and bars are also varied and can satisfy any craving. Be sure to check out the Live Music & Events calendar.

Legacy West & The Shops at Legacy | Plano

Separated by the Dallas North Tollway, Legacy West and The Shops at Legacy are where Plano locals go to shop the hottest brands, dine at the hottest restaurants and experience nightlife. Legacy Hall is the ultimate food court with over 20 dining options, numerous bars, a brewery, and an outdoor, live music venue. Check the calendar for upcoming events.

Grandscape | The Colony

Once completed, Grandscape is primed to be one of the largest mixed-use developments in North Texas and will span more than 400 acres of entertainment, shopping, dining and attractions. Immerse yourself in Jurassic World: The Exhibition. Adrenaline junkies will love Andretti Indoor Karting & Games. Rock out at the Creole-Mexican fusion restaurant, Lava Cantina. This one-of-a-kind destination has it all.

Truck Yard | The Colony

Truck Yard is a come-as-you-are beer garden and food truck park. The on-site brewpub offers an array of adult beverages and bar food, but be sure to check out their calendar for a list of visiting food trucks and live music performances scheduled daily. 

Wineries of North Texas | Various Locations

From the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex north to the Red River, and bound by the four forks of the Trinity River on the east and west, North Texas is becoming one of the largest winemaking and grape-growing regions in Texas. Visit any one of the many exciting wineries in our area for a taste of la dolce vita.

Photos courtesy of: Legacy Hall, Crayola Experience, fortworth.com, visitplano.com, arlington.org, visitfrisco.com, visitdallas.com

The Weekly Wrap-Up: Pool Edition


In the market for a new home? Take a look at some of this week’s fabulous featured properties.

6767 Northaven Road | Dallas | $4,200,000

1070 Wagner Way | Lantana | $2,500,000

6467 Orchid Lane | Dallas | $2,250,000

6947 Lavendale Avenue | Dallas | $1,790,000

11202 Northland Circle | Dallas | $950,000

7524 Mason Dells Drive | Dallas | $895,000

Travis Mathews Named VP of Operations


Travis Mathews has been named Vice President of Operations for the Ebby Halliday Companies. Chris Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer, recently made the announcement.

“Travis joined the Ebby Halliday Companies in 2019 and has adeptly led our growth strategies through acquisitions, franchising and related expansion opportunities, as well as our IT infrastructure and commercial real estate growth, all while skillfully overseeing our consumer-facing technology and the extensive suite of technology tools available to our agents,” says Kelly. “In his new role, Travis will expand upon these functions to oversee finance and accounting, facilities, and our growing property management and Apartments by Ebby divisions.”

Says Mathews, “As Vice President of Operations for the Ebby Halliday Companies, I have the privilege of leading a dynamic team dedicated to providing the best possible experience for our agents and clients. In this role I am also sharply focused on growing the reach of the Ebby brand, in North Texas and beyond.”  

Mathews has been in the real estate industry for 18 years, starting as an agent with Briggs Freeman Real Estate in 2004. He joined Allie Beth Allman & Associates in 2008, most recently serving as its Chief Operating Officer. In 2018, Mathews joined the Ebby Halliday Companies’ parent company, HomeServices of America, as Director of Operations, overseeing critical and innovative technology initiatives.

“I am so excited with the direction and growth of the Ebby Halliday Companies and to be a part of the incredible momentum this iconic company is experiencing,” Mathews says. “Our leadership, employees and agents are dedicated to providing our valued clients with a world-class residential real estate experience, day in and day out.”

Mathews graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University. He is married to Brittany Mathews, a real estate agent in Dallas. The couple have two children.

Mathews adds, “I am honored and excited to take on this expanded leadership role with the Ebby Halliday Companies and I am looking forward to building on the extraordinary success and the hard-earned equity of each of our brands.”Having celebrated 75 years of service in 2020 to North Texans and those moving to the region, the Ebby Halliday Companies are No. 1 in Texas by sales volume. The Ebby Halliday Companies were acquired in 2018 by HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and the country’s largest residential real estate company based on transactions in 2020. The Ebby Halliday Companies’ real estate brands include Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, Ebby Halliday Realtors and Williams Trew. Its core-services brands include Prosperity Home Mortgage, Home Team Insurance, Texas Premier Title and HSTX Title. For more information, visit daveperrymiller.com.

The Weekly Wrap-Up


In the market for a new home? Take a look at some of this week’s fabulous featured properties.

4045 Glenwick Lane | University Park | $3,325,000

148 Cottonwood Drive | Coppell | $2,800,000

3109 Drexel Drive | Highland Park | $2,795,000

5105 SWISS Avenue | Dallas | $2,195,000

6691 Montgomery Road | Midlothian | $1,950,000

6515 Stefani | Dallas | $1,539,000

6556 Ellsworth Avenue | Dallas | $1,299,000

9106 La Strada Court | Dallas | $725,000

10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Summer



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Warmer weather is here, which means it’s time for backyard barbeques, evenings spent on the patio, gardening, and playing catch with the kids. Break out the home maintenance checklist. We’re here to help you get your home ready for summer with these tips. 

1. GET YOUR A/C TUNED UP

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While there are some great DIY projects on this list, getting an A/C tune-up isn’t one of them. You should call in a professional for this task. Just as you need to get your furnace tuned up every fall, you need to get your A/C tuned up before temperatures spike in the summer.  An A/C tune-up includes inspecting and cleaning components and connections inside your A/C, and it’s important because the technician should be able to tell whether your A/C will need repairs soon. With regular tune-ups, you can help avoid unexpected breakdowns and A/C issues. If your home warranty doesn’t cover your A/C system, check out an American Home Shield® home service plan today. 

2. CONDUCT A HOME ENERGY AUDIT 

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Now is the time to learn more about your home’s energy profile and what you can do to improve its energy efficiency. A home energy audit can tell you whether and where your home is drafty, for example, or if you need more insulation and where to install it. Whether you have it professionally done, or do it yourself, it’s worth it – and your local utility company may offer an incentive for homeowners to have this done.  

3. INSTALL A SMART THERMOSTAT 

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This is a great time to install a smart thermostat so you can keep your home cool while also being more energy efficient. A smart thermostat lets you program your HVAC to cool your home only when you’re in it, so you’ll save a bundle on cooling costs while still staying comfortable on even the hottest days. 

4. GET READY FOR BUGS 

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Many species of insects go dormant during winter and early spring due to the colder weather, but they come out again in full force as soon as temperatures rise. Before the bugs come out, get ready for their return. Take steps to keep the bugs away, such as cleaning up piles of leaves or other debris near your house, sealing cracks in doors and windows, and inspecting window screens for holes. If you want to put out pesticides or other repellants, now is the best time to do so.  

5. CHECK FOR WATER LEAKS 

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The summer months bring more than heat – they can also bring storms and flooding. Check your basement for signs of water leaks. Clear out grates or drains near your home so that water is directed away from the foundation. If dirt has settled around your home, or your home is at the bottom of a hill, water will run towards your foundation. Install grates to direct water away. 

6. CLEAN THE GUTTERS 

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If you only clean your gutters once a year, do it in the spring or early summer, so that they can most effectively direct the rain of summer storms away from your siding and foundation. Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice a year – once in the spring or summer, and again in the fall. 

7. RESEAL YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS 

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Now is the time to inspect your doors and windows for missing, cracked, or peeling caulk and reseal them to prevent water leaks and draftiness. If you have wooden window frames, check to see if they need to be repainted. You can also take this opportunity to repaint your front door, if necessary, and wash your windows.  

8. AERATE, DETHATCH, AND OVERSEED THE LAWN 

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Okay, so this is three things, but they all go together, and they’re all equally important to helping your lawn look its best in the summer months when you most want to use it. Your lawn may not need to be aerated, dethatched, and overseeded every year – if it looks healthy and lush, it’s probably fine, especially if it’s newly installed. But take the time to do it at least every two or three years, so your lawn stays healthy and oxygenated. It will make a big difference!

9. SPRUCE UP YOUR GARDEN BEDS 

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This is a great time to weed, mulch, and plant in your vegetable and garden beds, and if you’re looking for summer crafts for kids, there are plenty of gardening tasks they can do. Kids love playing in the dirt, growing things, and helping out. They can help pull weeds, spread mulch and compost, and even plant seeds or seedlings. 

Related Article: Summer Gardening for You and Your Family 

10. CLEAN YOUR PATIO FURNITURE

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Soon you’ll want to entertain friends, relatives and neighbors outside, so it’s time to drag the lawn furniture out of the garage or remove the furniture covers, and knock the cobwebs off. Use a power washer or a hose to clean chairs, tables and other pieces of lawn furniture. Don’t forget to wash the cushions! You can also take steps to protect your patio furniture so that it lasts longer. 

Don’t let summer catch you unprepared. Get your home ready for warm weather so you can focus on enjoying yourself and your loved ones.  

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations.