Turkey Day can be daunting if you’re the host. You’ve got the meal to tend to, a football game on the TV to compete with and the late day snooze that guests succumb to after eating a big meal. Here are my tips for a day that's beautiful, memorable and special to you and your guests.
Watch for our video for more ideas & DIY.
Save yourself some time and set the table before the big day. First the tablecloth; maybe even add a table runner to spruce up the table with a little color and contrast. Make sure you have a water glass and wine glass for each guest. Skip those less than desirable paper napkins; your friends are worth the cloth ones! You can even go one step further and add a beautiful napkin ring to make the place setting even more fabulous. If you don’t have napkin rings, then you can make them with the Cricut Explore® Machine among many of the DIY projects below.
Project- Fall Napkin Ring, Project - Leaf Napkin Ring
If you are serving the food buffet style, you will still want the table to look complete, so set the table with chargers or plate toppers. Go the extra step by sticking on or etching a message on these table toppers through a simple DIY project. Each charger or topper can have a different message for the season or personalized to each guest.
Made this with the Cricut Explore
Add fresh or faux flowers to create your own centerpiece, you can even add squashes and leaves for that extra autumn flair. If you have several couples attending your Thanksgiving or "Friendsgiving" meal then create place cards and mix up the seating or have guests swap seats during dessert. This creates great conversation and new friends.
For lighting, have plenty of tea lights or candles. Place them on the mantel, along windowsills, or in clusters on the dining table. Remember to have unscented candles on your dining table so the enticing smells of your food does not compete with the scent of the candles.
As for food, keep it simple. If you want a sit down dinner, minimize the guests to 10 and prep the ingredients or portions of the meal ahead of time. Remember that not everyone loves turkey and some of your friends may be vegan or vegetarian. There are a multitude of possibilities you can cook instead of turkey that are quick and easy. You can make salmon, eggplant or even a butternut squash pie. If you plan to serve the traditional turkey for the main course, but you’d rather not set a timer and spend hours near the oven, then order a turkey fully cooked ahead so you just heat it up. Remember to choose your turkey by adding 1 pound per guest, 1½ pounds if you want leftovers.
For the big meal, stay away from complicated recipes and main courses that need constant attention. Don’t hesitate to dole out side dishes to friends and order your favorite dessert from the local bakery. The point is to get out of the kitchen and enjoy the party. Once the menu is planned, print up a menu to place on the table so guests can immediately start drooling.
If your dining table is on the smaller side set up the food buffet-style in the kitchen or another open surface, so guests can help themselves and your table can be dedicated to the décor and lighting.
Serving booze? Stick to wine or a signature drink specific to the season, something with apple cider or cinnamon comes to mind. Don’t get frazzled offering too many choices of soda and drinks. Remind guests they are free to bring their own drinks if they are picky.
1 – Ask it. Type or write up questions for your guests ahead of time and place them under the dinner plates, dessert plates or in a bowl so guests are unaware until it’s time to share. You may suddenly learn of a hidden desire, their favorite gift given or received, or what they’d do if they won the lottery.
2 – Shout it out. I’m not talking about fighting or tantrums, I’m talking about playing games and getting your guests shouting out answers. Sure board games work, but games like charades and celebrity are so simple and fun. Pick up an easel and dry erase board from your local office supply store or arts store for your own version of Pictionary or download the $.99 app of Heads Up and all you need is your phone. If your guests want to watch the football game then play these games during commercial breaks and get guests off the couch.
3 – Make a face. Don’t forget to capture the memories. Create your own photo booth. You don’t need to hire anybody--Instead create a backdrop with something as simple as a large sheet. And offer your friends props like simple DIY masks. Take photos on each other’s phones and share.
4 – Show off some talent. Before your guests arrive send them a short email asking them to come prepared to share a talent. Assure them to not overthink it. Whether they want to play a song on their guitar, tie a cherry stem with their tongue, show off a card trick or tell a knock-knock joke, it will surely add some laughter and fun to the gathering.
5 – Give a gift. Don’t let guests leave empty handed. How about a monogram pumpkin? Or send them home with a mini loaf of pumpkin or banana bread, or even just cinnamon sticks (the real deal) and a packet of hot cocoa mix. Or even a leftover piece of pie. Guests always love to feel loved.
And don't forget to just have fun! Thanksgiving is meant to be a joyful celebration and gathering with people you love.