The big day is coming fast! I love love love Thanksgiving! And that means lots of family, and celebrating and food and fun for most of us! It’s that All-American holiday that comes along in late fall every year drawing us together in a collective spirit of gratitude! Let’s be truthful… along with all the fun comes lots and lots of work! This entire post is dedicated creating the best Thanksgiving you can for your friends and family! It’s loaded with tons of tips for the hostess and the guest alike! Here’s how to celebrate Thanksgiving in style and ease!
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Today I’m just one of many blogs celebrating Thanksgiving with an inspiring table and helpful tips! This big, talented group of bloggers will get together in a month or so to talk Christmas table and tips! You will LOVE LOVE LOVE all the inspiration!!!!
I set a super easy outdoor fall tablescape this week. It’s sort of a Thanksgiving “dry run” table. Although we will be eating inside, this table is just like the one I’ll be setting for family and friends on Thanksgiving day!
This post is full of tablescape ideas and a big mish-mosh of tips and traditions!
Here’s your first tip… Plan out your Thanksgiving table early! Set it, take pictures of every detail and deconstruct it. Put all the tableware from plates to flatware to glasses in dish pans and stash them in your laundry room, garage or even under your bed. Just think how easy it will be to pull everything out and set your Thanksgiving table!
Here’s another tip: set your table several days before Thanksgiving! There’s enough to do on Turkey day!
If you are using real leaves like me, cut them Thanksgiving morning and put them in a big bucket of water in your garage or outside near your home. Keep them cool and submerged in water!
Cut branches will last a couple hours on your table before they begin to wilt. But they look so so glorious!
Number 1 Thanksgiving tip: If someone asks to help… SAY YES!!!!! Many hands make light work! Take that to the bank! Work and chat and nibble and have fun! Crank up the music and dance!
Others will want to join in too! If you have not read THE VERY BEST THANKSGIVING TIP YOU WILL EVER GET do it now!!!! This will save you so much work and change the way you look at Thanksgiving!!!!!! You can thank me now, because this idea is brilliant! No seriously, read it NOW! I’ll wait!
Instead of a tablecloth think about using a blanket or throw on your Thanksgiving table. It is the perfect background for a warm, natural look! I have two Ancient Buchanan wool tartans to go on the table this year. Because they are so colorful, I’m keeping the rest of my table very simple!
Let’s talk about dishes! This dish pattern is very popular right now. I have 8 of them but will be investing in another 8 place setting this week! They are sturdy and quite reasonable! Now is the perfect time to buy new dishes if you need them. Many times you will find them on sale before Thanksgiving!
White dishes are my first choice for tablescaping and for eating from. They make food look the best!
I’ve had my everyday Mikasa dishes for two decades now and they have been the workhorses of my kitchen. But, they are showing their age and I am buying new dishes for Thanksgiving this year!
I usually serve Thanksgiving buffet style. That way, I can decorate my table without worrying where platters and bowls will go. If you are serving a big meal with lots and lots of dishes think about buffet style! Coordinate your buffet with some of the same elements that are on your table. I’ll be adding lots of these saturated ash leaves in glass cylinders to the buffet!
I love stacking dishes at each place setting, but this year’s table is set with one dinner plate that can be taken from the table to the buffet line. If you need another plate for salad or dessert keep them at the buffet.
You know, you don’t have to put all the food out on a buffet all at once. Consider serving the salad, bread, etc first on the buffet. And then the big meal and then follow it with dessert.
We often serve dessert much later in the evening with some great cocktails! Then family and friends are ready for something sweet!
Here’s another great idea for serving a big crowd. If you don’t have room to ask your friends and extended family over for the main Thanksgiving meal, have them over for Thanksgiving dessert later Thanksgiving evening! We have done this in the past and it is so so much fun! Most of the time our friends offer to bring a dessert and we end up with the most scrumptious selections of goodies!
And speaking of dessert, I usually have dessert set up on the buffet in my dining room. Drinks are usually setup in the foyer and the Thanksgiving buffet in the kitchen. Use your house to set up different stations! This works amazingly well! And if someone asks to help, manning the drink or dessert station is an easy job to give them and it’s fun!
I’m not a fan of doing so much work to prepare a meal and everyone gobbling it up and leaving the table! I love to sit and talk and laugh and linger over a meal and good libations! Thanksgiving is a meal to linger over!
If you are a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, it might be nice to check with the hostess and see if she could use some of your dishes or serving pieces. We do this in our family when we all get together! Collectively we have a gorgeous and amazing stash!!!!!
If you don’t have enough of one kind of dishes for your Thanksgiving table MIX AND MATCH. Setting a table with a few different dish patterns that work well together is always gorgeous!!!!!! This is my favorite way to set a table!
If you are a guest this year, why not send your hostess a set of eight pretty dessert plates? Send them now so she can use them on Thanksgiving day! See “get the look” for some dessert plate ideas!
Sometimes we need permission to use paper products. So here it is… YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO USE PAPER PRODUCTS. There are so many fabulous styles and motifs! If it makes your life easier… DO IT!
I happen to like cloth napkins, but I would also use some pretty paper ones especially for appetizers or drinks or desserts. Do what YOU like and what works best for YOU! Don’t stress yourself out over the little details! Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks… not to have your last nerve plucked!
Here’s another idea if you are a guest… send some gorgeous matching paper products to your hostess!
When decorating your Thanksgiving table think “simple”! I love to set very elaborate tables, but I think easy is best for Thanksgiving!
Shop your home and garden first and use what you have! If you need to get something new make sure it will work for other get togethers too.
I cut these brilliant golden branches from our ash tree in the front yard. Only leaves and pumpkins for this table. So easy to put together! I scattered some leaves on the table and added some to different glass cylinders to make a bountiful centerpiece!
I collected the white pumpkins I’ve been using this fall from around StoneGable and concentrated them on the table! Like I said… EASY!
Keep a centerpiece low enough so your guests can see over it to talk. I do have one tall glass cylinder with a few ash branches on the table, but it is wispy enough to see through it.
Ask one of your guests to be in charge of activities around the Thanksgiving table. At StoneGable we have a tradition called THE LEGEND OF THE FIVE KERNELS OF CORN. If you’ve not read about it click HERE. There are lots of great games, fun facts, and puzzles to be found!
The Thanksgiving table is a wonderful place to learn the history of your family. Let the older generations tell stories and answer questions. It was at a Thanksgiving table long ago I learned that I come from the royal line of Gypsies! We have murders and horse thieves in our family! And as my Nani told it that is what made us royalty! We are no longer a practicing branch of gypsy royalty!
It’s important to engage everyone around your Thanksgiving table! A good hostess draws out the more quiet guests and gives the attention grabbing one a job to to so he/she does not steal the spotlight all dinner long!
One year, everyone at the table wrote on a card 3 things we would like someone to pray for on our behalf during the year and three things we are thankful for. Everyone picked one card and prayed for those specific prayer request and thanked God for those things we are grateful for. Just before Thanksgiving the next year I got a beautiful note from one of the guests at our table saying he was blessed to pray for me all year long. What a treasure!!!!!
If you are a guest this year, think about giving your hostess a set of Table Topics. See “get the look” below to see more. We love to use these fun conversation starters! It’s amazing what you will learn.
Now for some very practical advice: MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE! Always start your Thanksgiving day planning early. Like right now! Use your mobile, laptop or good old paper and pencil! I like to use graph paper to make a timeline, menu, shopping list, guest list and anything else I need to remember!
There is just something so rewarding about ticking something off my list!
Because we have out of town family I usually have a house of guest from Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving until the following Sunday or Monday. Here are some tips for for hosting overnight guest…
If at all possible have someone come in and clean your home and guest rooms right before Thanksgiving! I know it’s an extra expense, but with all a hostess has to do it’s worth it! This keeps me sane! I have a friend who knows my home inside and out and she helps me!
Set up a self-serve continental breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Or better yet ask a family member or guest to do it for you! You can see an easy no cook-no fuss Thanksgiving continental breakfast HERE.
If you are an overnight guest during Thanksgiving volunteering to bring in and set up a breakfast. It would be such a help to your hostess. Just discuss this in advance! No surprises!
Thanksgiving means leftovers! If you are having overnight or weekend guests make sure to make extra for leftovers! Everyone loves them! I usually make an additional small turkey a couple days before Thanksgiving to make sure I have enough turkey and stuffing for leftovers! I also like to send my guest home with a small bag of Thanksgiving leftovers! Chinese food containers work brilliantly for leftovers!
We have the most wonderful Black Friday tradition! We don’t go shopping! Instead we wake up and all the women in the house raid the frig and sit around in their jammies drinking coffee and eat our favorite leftovers for breakfast while we chat and read holiday magazines. It’s so so so much fun! My breakfast always includes stuffing and gravy! YIKES! Breakfast usually goes well past noon and then we all take a nap!
Don’t forget lots and lots of baggies and aluminum foil and plastic wrap and containers for leftovers! Add those to your grocery list… now!
Don’t cook every meal if you have overnight guests! Eat out at least once and get take-out for another meal. Thanksgiving is such a huge meal let some of the other’s be easy!
We start our Christmas season off the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving by doing something Christmassy that the whole family would love since we are all together! Decorate a tree, rent a Christmas video, take a Christmas photo, go see a Christmas show or musical. This is a Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition.
One year when my sister was hosting Thanksgiving we all went on a Christmas candlelight tour of Mount Vernon. It was spectacular! Big or small the point is to be together and transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas!
Don’t forget to play some amazing Christmas music!
Here are some nice things a guest can do if they are staying overnight:
- Ask your hostess if you can strip the bed and take the bedding and towels down to the laundry room before leaving!
- Leave a little Christmas gift in the room you stayed in for the hostess.
- Empty the trash in the bathroom
- If you have your own bathroom, give it a “swish and swipe” before you leave
- Be the designated dish washer for the Thanksgiving meal
- Bring a beautiful live Christmas wreath for your host’s front door
- take them out to dinner over the weekend and pick up the tab
- Leave a beautiful Christmas book with a thank you note inside!
Just writing this post has me so excited and inspired for Thanksgiving! I wish you and all who grace your table a very very blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!
And if you are reading this you are on my list of “things to be thankful for” this year. I love you all and am deeply thankful for your loyalty to StoneGable and friendship to me!
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