It seems like only yesterday, the first spring flowers had come into bloom… and now we’re well into autumn, with the holiday season right around the corner. While this season can be busy, it’s also an opportunity to share our homes with the people we cherish most. Whether you’ve recently moved into a new home or are spending another year in a well-loved happy home, ‘tis the season for entertaining! With a little planning, even a novice can host an amazing Thanksgiving that your guests won’t soon forget.
- Set the Scope of your Event- What do you envision for Thanksgiving in your home? For some, it may be a quiet comfortable day with just a couple and their kids. For others, Thanksgiving might mean preparing a feast for friends, neighbors, coworkers, and extended family – a more the merrier approach. It’s imperative that you understand what you’re planning for, long before you try deciding what and how to plan. While you can’t always count on reservations, getting a good idea of attendance interest up front can help avoid over-planning for a smaller crowd than expected.
- Take Inventory- Whether you’re still unpacking from the big move or have been going to the same drawer for silverware for twenty years, the first step in prepping for a Thanksgiving party is to know what you have available, and where it is. This includes furniture- do you have enough comfortable seating for all your guests? How do you plan to serve the meal? Buffet style or while all are seated around the table. Have you decorated for the season yet? Move on to plates, cutlery, and utensils- all necessities you’ll need easy access to. Now move onto the menu—what are you going to serve? Do you have everything you need?
- Include Your Guests – Traditionally Thanksgiving is centered around an unforgettable meal that requires a lot of preparation. Consider including your guests in the process. Not only does this lighten the workload, but it also gets everyone involved in creating a fabulous event. For the guest who loves to bake, ask them to bring their favorite dessert. For the wine afficionado, task them with choosing wines that complement the menu. For the talented flower enthusiast, ask them to create a pretty centerpiece for the table. Think about it in advance so you know what to say when they ask, “What can I bring?”
- Time to Shop- Once you have taken inventory and know what guests are bringing, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to pick up. Make your list (and check it twice) before heading to your favorite shops. Use this opportunity to leverage the autumn bounty around you! Pick up decorations from local shops or stop by a local farmers’ market for fresh pumpkins and gourds and other goodies you may find.
- Setting the Stage- Getting your home ready to host guests or just to make the Thanksgiving meal feel a little special starts with tidying the areas where time will be spent that day. For arriving guests, ensure the front walkway is well lit and easily accessible. With the shorter daylight hours of the season, adequate outdoor lighting is an important safety consideration.
- Start Cooking – Or Don’t! – Thanksgiving is a day filled with traditions of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce… but that doesn’t mean that’s all your thanksgiving has to be! Many guests might just appreciate some new, nontraditional items available on the menu. Maybe this is the year you have your guests all bring a dish of their own, giving everyone an opportunity to add their own flavor to the feast. When planning the menu, consider preparing what you can ahead of the big day. These make-ahead recipes can mean more time for socializing with friends during your thanksgiving party, and can make cleanup and storing leftovers afterwards a breeze.
As with any party, the best time to start planning the festivities is long before the actual day of the event. The sooner you start thinking, the sooner you’ll know what needs to be accomplished long before the guests arrive. One thing is for sure, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead!