DECORATING AND ENTERTAINING AT THANKSGIVING
Fall is finally here! Pumpkins fill the stores, the air is finally crisp and pumpkin baked goods are all I can think about! Everything feels festive and something about the season just makes me want to entertain.
I love throwing a fantastic holiday themed party and setting a beautiful table for friends and family to gather round. For a fall gathering, nothing says ambiance to me like candles. They create magic like nothing else, are cheap, and are the easiest decorations!
Thanksgiving entertaining tends to lead to stress, since it’s a more labor-intensive meal than most dinners. If you plan out what you’re going to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner weeks in advance, it will help minimize any tension you might feel, since you’ll be organized well before the big holiday. Thanksgiving is a time of sharing your appreciation for your life, the blessings you receive, and the people who are a part of your life.
Thanksgiving is perhaps the most American holiday of all, a celebration of beloved foods, and customs that evoke happy memories of good times shared with family and friends.
For traditionalists, there is a classic New England Thanksgiving dinner featuring roasted turkey with pan gravy and all the trimmings, including an old-fashioned oyster stuffing, cranberry relish, and buttery mashed potatoes. A contemporary California-style holiday menu showcases a butterflied turkey and light, seasonal Mediterranean-inspired accompaniments, while an elegant southern buffet offers a glorious glazed ham, spooned bread, and collard greens.
Have a fall beverage station where several festive choices are waiting for your guests all evening. Remember, the goal is self-serve. Have water for tea already hot and ready in a kettle. In a crate, I would place several tea options and coffee waiting to be made. Apple cider is another big fall favorite. I like to serve it chilled in a pitcher, so that you won’t need to tend to it throughout the evening.
You don’t need to have a ton of options to make your beverage bar feel extra special. Some whipped cream, cinnamon, and cinnamon sticks for stirring are enough to make it feel “fall fancy” while not creating a full-service coffee bar for you to manage.
Because Thanksgiving entertaining often extends beyond the holiday meal, you can always plan for casual day after lunches/brunches complete with turkey sandwiches and snacks, as well as a homey weekend breakfast, with French toast, smoothies, and an irresistible Pumpkin Bread.
Before you sit-down for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (like a roasted Turkey or Prime Rib), offer your guests prepared appetizers to help stave off their appetite, and give them an opportunity to relax and mingle while the dinner is still being prepared. A few easy appetizers to serve (that are fast and easy to prepare), are hummus & pita chips, a selection of cured meats, pre-roasted canned vegetables (like bell peppers and mushrooms, in addition to what fresh vegetables can be bought at the farmers market or local farm stands). Serve the appetizers in an array of vibrant colored dishes or bowls to add visual interest to your table.
Instead of plating each meal, create a buffet table. This enables you to focus on preparing the food, while the guests have the opportunity to serve themselves the dishes and portions they desire. Since everyone has particular tastes (some crave stuffing, while others love cranberry sauce), this is a win-win for both you, as the hostess, and them. A buffet table containing an array of delectable side dishes to accompany your main course, such as sauteed seasonal vegetables, sweet potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, herb-seasoned stuffing, and tossed autumn salad (including dark leafy greens and in-season berries) completes your Thanksgiving buffet.
Some people prefer to showcase their finest china during Thanksgiving dinner, while others view it as an opportunity to bring out their Thanksgiving themed dinnerware. With so many festive options on the market (like Turkey printed bowls, Pilgrim printed cups, Autumnal leaf printed plates), it can be fun to mix things up for this annual holiday, especially if kids will be joining you. Depending on the type of Thanksgiving entertaining you’re planning on doing (whether it’s a formal affair for sophisticated guests, or a casual get-together with easy-going families), choose your dinnerware to suit the occasion.
No matter what you decide to serve, remember to enjoy the process, relax, and focus on the meaningful purpose of Thanksgiving. Happy holidays!
Aside from the meal, a key focus for preparing for Thanksgiving entertaining should be decor.
The dinner table should be the primary focus of your Thanksgiving decor efforts, since it’s the gathering place for all your guests. Opt for an easy-to-make, but equally festive centerpiece that incorporates natural elements (like a bowl of neatly-arranged fallen leaves, twigs and branches, mini pumpkins, fresh herbs for greenery, and dried flowers). This type of centerpiece can be arranged quickly, costs pennies (especially since you can find most of these items outside), and lasts for weeks.
When it comes to seasonal decorating, the less-is-more approach works best. Opt for simple focal points that add warmth to your home, such as Thanksgiving Pilgrim Figurines, a mixture of different sized and colored pumpkins, scented candles, and autumnal floral arrangements. The last thing you want to do is display every type of Thanksgiving decor item, which will just make your house look cluttered, making your guests feel overwhelmed. That’s why a few key accent pieces highlighting specific areas (like buffet tables, fireplace mantles, etc.) is a better way to go.