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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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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