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Ideas for a Simple, Graceful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite occasions to host. With traditional dishes and family favorites on the menu, there’s no stressing over what to serve, and (most importantly) with everyone home and hanging out together on a Thursday, there is always a lot to be grateful for! Whether it’s your first time hosting Thanksgiving, or your twentieth, let these ideas inspire your own simple, graceful celebration.

Thanksgiving 1
Photo: Ella Claire

Set the table in advance. If the table is set, you will instantly feel like you’re ready for company. Short on glassware? Use jam jars for water. No tablecloth? Pick up an inexpensive canvas painter’s drop cloth, and have your guests write messages of gratitude on it with fabric markers. Decorate the center of the table with seasonal finds, like colorful pumpkins and gourds and unscented candles. One thing to think about in advance is where all of that glorious food will go! I prefer to set up a buffet on a separate table and let people serve themselves. It’s a lot easier than passing hefty casserole dishes and leaves more room for your beautiful centerpiece.

Thanksgiving 2
Photo: Bless’er House

Incorporate gratitude. I love the gratitude lists shown above: paired with a mini pencil at each place setting, this makes a natural way to encourage each guest to begin thinking about things they are grateful for this year. Other fun ways to show gratitude are with a thankful tree or gratitude pumpkin. A thankful tree is simply a cluster of branches in a vase, with paper cutouts of leaves available for guests to write their gratitudes on, plus mini clothespins to attach them to the branches. And a gratitude pumpkin is just a white pumpkin that folks can write messages on using a black permanent marker!

Thanksgiving place cards
Photo: Lark & Linen

Get creative with place cards. Another sweet way to elevate the Thanksgiving table and make it extra-special is with place cards. I don’t know about you, but in my family, we almost never use place cards at gatherings … except at Thanksgiving! In the past, we’ve used a photo of each guest (printed out in black and white) and set atop the napkins; homemade place cards created by my little one and his cousins; and pears with the names tied to the stems. This year, I’m dying to try the autumn leaf place cards shown above. The gilded edges and calligraphy style writing make these worth the effort.

Thanksgiving bar cart
Photo: Julie Blanner

Set up a drinks station … but not in the kitchen! Trust me, you do not want thirsty guests getting in your way when you’ve got a turkey in the oven and every stovetop burner full. Make things easier all around by setting up a bar cart or sideboard with wine, cider, carafes of water, and anything else you’re serving to drink. A vase of colorful autumn leaves is a festive touch for the drinks area. If you need to keep beverages cold, use a cooler filled with ice: it will be easier for guests to access, and saves precious fridge space, so it’s a win-win.

Thanksgiving Rugs

Thanksgiving shopping guide: Drape a over the back of a dining chair for a boost of warmth. Underfoot, I love the rich gold hue of the Surya Centennial Rug (above, on right), or classic stripes with a natural texture (above, left). And of course, all of these items would look perfectly cozy long after the Thanksgiving meal is over!

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at LauraGaskill.com!

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Tips for Squeezing in Extra Seating

Extra Seating 1

Believe it or not, the holidays are coming right around the corner — and if you’re planning to entertain, you’ll probably need all of the extra seats you can muster! From spare seats in the living room for mixing and mingling at cocktail parties and the holiday open house, to extra chairs around the dining table for big feasts, here are 5 ways to sneak in the seating you need.

1. Tuck in a spare chair (or two). A side chair with a lovely shape can easily be tucked against the wall in the living room or dining room, just waiting to be called into duty. If you can’t resist scooping up chairs at the flea market, this is the perfect excuse to do just that! It really doesn’t matter too much if your spare chairs match your other dining chairs — in fact, mixing it up is a great way to cultivate an eclectic look. Just be sure to make one element (color, material, or style) go with the rest of your chairs for consistency.

2. Stock up on cute folding chairs. Folding chairs don’t have to be boring. Seek out fun, colorful folding chairs (like the ones shown above) or classic folding cafe chairs. They are so handy to have around when you need to seat more people than you were expecting. Since they fold up, you can slip a few in the back of a closet, or even under a bed, and simply pull them out as needed.

3. Embrace poufs, ottomans, and x-benches. These decorator staples are well-loved for good reason — they solve seating problems and look great doing it. Use poufs or square ottomans as a coffee table alternative that can also serve as party seating. X-benches look chic anywhere you put them; keeping a few on hand is smart since they can be used as extra seating in the living room or at the dining table.

Extra Seating 2

4. Make a stack of stools. Sleek little stools that stack, like the ones shown above, look like an intentional part of the decor — only you need to know they are secret seating superstars that can leap into service at a moment’s notice.

5. Slide benches under consoles. Not only does a bench tucked under a console table look chic, it’s a smart way to hide an extra seat in plain sight. For extra credit, tuck a pair of petite stools beneath one console to double your extra seating.

Extra Seating 3
When it comes time to shop, hunt for versatile pieces that will work in any space, with any color scheme. We love the graceful lines of the Aiden bench (top left), classic style of the Ann side chairs (top right), secret storage of the Owen linen storage bench, and stackability and modern good looks of the Easton stainless steel side chair.

Now it’s your turn to spill the beans: where do you seat extra guests? Share your tips and tricks in the Comments!

Shopping Guide: Owen Cream Linen Storage BenchAnn Carved Mahogany Light Gray and White Side Chairs (set of 2); Easton Stainless Steel Side Chair (set of 2); Aiden Hand-Painted White Bench.

Photo Credits: Society Social folding chairs; photographer Hoi Ning Wong coral x-benches; Inspired by Charm living room; Scandinavian Love Song stacked stools; 2 Design Group elegant entry; Glitter Guide console with bench.

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