Thanksgiving is next week, friends! Are you ready? Although I don’t normally host Thanksgiving, I’m super excited to host my first Friendsgiving this weekend. While I’m ecstatic to have five families over (and kids) whom we love spending time with, all the planning and prep and the idea of serving all these people dinner is stressing me out a little (maybe a lot). Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, a Friendsgiving, or are planning an upcoming dinner party over the holidays, I’m sure many of you feel the same (if not, please share your secret!).
As someone who loves to entertain, I’ve found myself less and less interested over the past few years, because now more than before, it just seems like so much work. So long before I invited my friends to this gathering, I decided that I would need to solicit some help. As soon as I confirmed the date with my friends, the next thing I did was call my friend and party planner extraordinaire, Brookie White of Feel Like a Guest , to share some tips with me on how to put together an easy, yet stylish, Thanksgiving celebration that I wanted to share with you all as well.
Brookie suggested the perfect person who will be coming to my home to help out with the event, allowing me to feel like more of a guest so that I can actually enjoy my company too. Cost wise, having someone help at my house to serve and clean up dishes etc. is roughly the same as how much I pay to have my house cleaned, making me realize that this was definitely worth the money.
Here are a few tips to help you with your next event:
- First thing’s first. Finalize your menu and make your grocery list one week in advance. This will help you get a handle on what you need and give you enough time to shop and delegate. Remember, if your guests offer to bring a dish, say yes! (And if not, you have permission to ask them to bring something simple, like a side dish or bottle of wine.)
- Table talk. Start prepping your table NOW. Play around with flatware, dinnerware, linens and table accents to get the look you want. There’s nothing prettier than a beautifully set table, so why not give yourself a few extra days to enjoy it?!? If you aren’t planning a sit down table, you can still make a buffet style table look just as pretty.
- Note to self. Planning a buffet-style meal? Set out all your serving platters on your table with sticky notes to indicate which food item goes where. This will help mealtime go smoothly and ensure you don’t forget to put a dish out! Don’t forget to add some florals and candles to this table as well. Even consider putting different dishes at different heights to give extra depth to the table. This can be done by putting large pots on the table then covering the entire table with a table cloth before placing on the actual serving dishes.
- Formal wear. Now is the time to pull out your wedding china, Waterford crystal and that vintage flatware set collecting dust in your attic. Don’t be afraid to mix and old and new to create a unique tablescape.
- Flower power. A beautiful floral arrangement is the perfect finishing touch to any table. While choosing a floral arrangement, you can stay in the same color family as your dinnerware or pick something that goes with the theme of the dinner. If you’re going to be a guest to Thanksgiving and the host insists that you bring nothing, consider offering to bring a floral arrangement. It’s the perfect gift and something that any host is sure to love. (Special thanks to Kelli Czajkowski of BLOOM in Berwyn for the gorgeous table arrangements pictured in this post; again, be sure follow me on Instagram for an upcoming BLOOM giveaway!)
- Linen love. A simple white tablecloth with smaller accents (think name cards, holiday greenery and candles) sprinkled throughout for color and interest always works well. If you have a pretty wood table, skip the table cloth and use a table runner instead. For my table, Brookie made my runner from fabric she found at Joanne Fabric. I can’t tell you how impressed with her I was when she laid down this inexpensive runner that went perfectly with my china and room decor. She mixed and matched my placemats and chargers and made these delicate plate decorations from tying fresh and dried flowers together. Two golden antler taper candle holders and the fresh flower arrangement from Bloom made my table look right out of a magazine. Watching her point out all the different elements on the table was like a big ‘ah-ha’ moment. Nothing really complicated, but all the elements pulled together made my table look picture perfect.
- Name game. Name cards are a pretty way to personalize your table. These are lovely or here are some DIY ideas. If you have the same people coming each year, you can have a larger name card (5X6) made for each person. After dinner, each person could write what they are most grateful for this year on the back of the card. Save the cards, pull them out each year and easily create a wonderful family tradition.
- Child’s play. Planning a kid’s table? Use craft paper for the tablecloth and set out several cups of crayons to keep the littles busy. Find some fun disposable plates for easy clean up. You can also have a Thanksgiving craft, game or activity handy in case the kids finish early.
- Keep calm and carve on. It all doesn’t have to be perfect; sometimes the biggest mistakes make the best memories! And remember, people enjoy your company more than they enjoy watching you cook, so keep it simple, or get help. Giving thanks and spending time with loved ones is what it’s all really about anyway.
Thanks so much Brookie! “Feel Like a Guest” can help you with party staffing, event planning and everything else from sending out Christmas Cards to polishing silver. They really are your one stop shop for all things entertaining around the Main Line. Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for details on how you can win a holiday arrangement from BLOOM as seen on my table ($150 value).
Wishing you a stress-free Thanksgiving filled with everything (and everyone) you love! Be sure to follow me on Instagram (my stories) this weekend to see my Friendsgiving celebration. Just need to go pick up a turkey now…and google how to prepare…..wish me luck!
Photos from Perfectly Paired Photography of the Main Line. Be sure to reach out to them for all things photos, from family photos to business marketing, they can help you will all your needs.
Writing blogs focused on all things home is my hobby, but just a reminder that I am a licensed real estate professional and would love for you to reach out with any real estate needs along the Main Line.