Hosting beloved family and friends at your home on Thanksgiving has such a wonderful, idyllic and dreamy quality to it – until the date is visible on the current calendar page and you realize all of the little bits and bobs that need to come together to make that golden-lit fantasy come true.
7 Tips For the Loveliest Thanksgiving Ever
Never fear, my friends. While a well-set table and beautiful fall decor is a bonus, your guests are primarily focused on the joy of being together (possibly accompanied by a little stress) as well as all that scrumptious food.
The following 7 tips will help to make your upcoming Thanksgiving the loveliest yet – and I vow to make it as stress-free as possible.
- Flavor your house with fall. If you’ve yet to decorate for fall, no worries. There are easy ways to add a little fall color to your home in under an hour and without spending very much at all. Colorful pumpkins and gourds abound this time of year and you can add a few autumn-hued pillar and votive candles to the mix as well. They can be used to adorn table tops as centerpieces, the mantel and virtually any surface that needs a little pick me up. Just tuck all the other tchochkes away so your fall harvest decor is the star of the show. Read Taking Your Interiors From Summer to Fall for additional, practical tips.
- Do use place settings. Sometimes guests on the Thanksgiving invite list don’t blend together as well as your traditional recipe ingredients do. For this reason, I highly recommend taking 15-minutes out of your life to create a seating arrangement.Plus, there’s something about place cards that makes the event seem a bit more special. Try to balance personalities, interests and the people who make excellent personality buffers (the ones that don’t mind great-aunt Sally telling the same story over and over or who can listen peacefully, unruffled by vehement political/religious views). Place cards can be as simple as a pre-cut, black cardstock rectangles with names written in gold or white script, to whatever clever place card idea you want to incorporate.
- Rearrange the furniture. You might find a temporary furniture arrangement makes more sense than your everyday setup. Take the kids play area out of the family room for the day so there’s more space for additional seating (or, perhaps you should add a kids’ play corner to accommodate visiting guests). Think about conversation and body movement, removing any furniture that is superfluous or impedes flow – and adding additional seating from elsewhere in the house if needed.
- Remove breakables. The last thing you want is to stress out about heirloom and valuable collector’s’ pieces. Even if they enhance your decor, it’s better to remove them than lose them. With a crowd of house guests, odds are they wouldn’t have been noticed anyway – except by the person who accidentally knocked them over and broke them…
- Purchase the non-essentials (or the essentials!). If cooking isn’t your forte, or if you have to work directly before and after the holiday, give yourself a break and fill in the food gaps using pre-made versions from the store, a local bakery, or a restaurant that offers Thanksgiving meal items to order. The turkey and stuffing are easy – and once they’re in the oven – you can enjoy the guests. So consider buying some of the sides and pie (or make the day a potluck) to remove a significant layer of stress.
- Sweep the chimney. Here in the Bay Area, fireplaces are often more for looks than use – but it’s so nice to have a fire on Thanksgiving if it’s cool enough. Just make sure you’ve had it looked at – and swept, if need be – so you don’t smoke the guests out of the house.
- Set up a Make-Your-Own bar. If your home doesn’t have a bar, use a tea cart, a serving cart or a couple of sturdy TV trays and set up a DIY bar with all the ingredients the typical drinks require. You can use a metal bucket or cooler (draped with a linen table cloth to hide the metal/plastic if you like) filled with ice to chill sodas, white wines, champagne and the like. No need for you to play bartender…and it adds a social flair.
- Set the table a couple of days before. If you have a formal dining room, I highly recommend setting the table at least one full day before Thanksgiving. People will tease, but you know what? You won’t care. By having all of your place settings in place ahead of time and the servingware cleaned and ready to go – you’ll save yourself hours of last-minute running around the night before or the day of the meal.
Thanksgiving is a time for practicing gratitude for the abundance in our lives – and that’s much easier to do when things unfold as stress-free and pleasant as possible.