Hosting the perfect Thanksgiving celebration requires a lot of pre-planning. With so many details to consider, from prepping the food to organizing the guest bedrooms, preparing your home in advance will ensure it’s a fun, festive celebration for everyone attending, including the host. Whether yours is a small, intimate affair or you have numerous friends and family coming for the holidays, use our top six tips to make it your most relaxed Thanksgiving yet…
Choose Your Menu in Advance
With just two weeks to go, now is the perfect time to plan your Thanksgiving menu. First, determine the type of meal you will serve, will it be a traditional sit down menu or do you prefer a casual buffet? Whatever you choose, start by making a shopping list, taking into consideration any guests’ special dietary requirements. Plan the big food shop a few days before Thanksgiving to avoid the rush, and take advantage of dishes that can be made ahead such as cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, yam casserole and pies.
We suggest sticking to tried and tested recipes for the holiday season, now isn’t the time to try out a new turkey recipe or risk making a new side dish without testing it beforehand. For minimum stress, stick to classic family recipes and tried-and-tested methods.
Don’t be afraid to delegate, one of the joys of Thanksgiving is having friends and family come together with dishes they’ve lovingly made. Pick the dishes that are most important to you, love your turkey recipe? Then stick with that and ask family members to contribute the mashed potatoes and appetizers. For the non-cooks in your party, ask them to bring easy-to-transport foods such sweet potato rolls, whipped cream and shop-bought pies. The less cooking you have to do on the day the more time you can spend enjoying the festivities.
Plan your Tablescape
Family and friends taking the time to enjoy a meal together is one of the highlights of the holidays. The seating plan can make or break this treasured time, so it’s important to carefully consider where you will seat your guests and the sort of tablescape you will create.
First, ensure you have enough space to seat your guests. Will they all fit comfortably around one table? If not, how are you going to divide the party? One of the simplest ways to combat this is to create separate tables for adults and children, keeping in mind if the children are grown up enough to sit by themselves without supervision. However you split your guests, ensure, as the host, you are closest to the kitchen to keep an eye on the food and top up drinks when needed.
When it comes to the tablescape, consider the menu you have created and choose tableware to complement this. For informal buffets you can play with color and styles to create a fun and festive setting. Your everyday tableware is perfect for buffet dinners; the focus is on the food and not the setting so using what you have to hand is fine. To make your Thanksgiving meal different from an everyday dinner, invest in plaid tablecloths in fall colors and finish the look with scattered pumpkins and candles for centerpieces.
If you’re hosting a formal sit-down meal for Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect time to pull out your finest tableware and flatware. Keep it on theme with fiery fall colors such as rich golds, reds and oranges, and add a touch of luxe with ornate candle holders and napkin rings.
Prepare Your Kitchen
Thanksgiving usually means catering for a small crowd so prepping your kitchen in advance is key to avoiding any culinary disasters. Before the big day arrives, ensure your kitchen appliances are performing at their peak. Is your stove’s thermostat accurate? Could your microwave do with a wipe-down? Double check each appliance and make room in the refrigerator and freezer for the extra food and Thanksgiving leftovers.
To ease congestion in the kitchen during cooking, designate a specific countertop for serving food only. If you’re limited in space, consider a pop up table to use as an extra kitchen surface, this will also double as an extra space for the big clean up after the meal.
By prepping your kitchen before holiday guests arrive you can ensure you have enough cookware, casserole dishes and utensils to cater for your party. If you find you’re short on some of the essentials, ask family and friends to bring what you need with them. Less time spent feeling stressed in the kitchen on the day means more time spent enjoying a seasonal drink with your loved ones.
Create a Cozy Guest Bedroom
Creating a cozy guest bedroom is essential if you have overnight guests this Thanksgiving. Turning a barely-used bedroom into a tranquil retreat for family and friends is as simple as adding a couple of home comforts. Think of the things that make a house a home; a fluffy bathrobe and slippers, their favorite magazine or flickering tealights to help them relax. A small coffee maker and fine china coffee cups will be a welcome addition to the room and will also keep your guests out of the kitchen before you’re ready to serve breakfast. Simply place them on a tray with a small vase of fresh flowers to recreate the feeling of a luxury hotel break.
For the perfect finishing touches, look to silk eye masks, a heated blanket and a radio or television. To truly spoil your guests, consider the type of fragrance they like to wear or use in their own home, whether floral, spicy or fresh, investing in a room spray or fragrance diffuser in their favorite scent is a thoughtful touch that any guest will love.
Provide Bathroom Essentials
Treat overnight guests to a visit they’ll remember by creating their own luxurious bathroom space. Nothing says spa break quite like soft, fluffy, crisp white towels and complementing toiletries. A mood-enhancing scented candle sets the scene for a relaxing soak, whilst new soaps, bath oils and fluffy bath mats bring an added touch of luxury.
To avoid any Thanksgiving Day dramas ensure you are prepared with basic essentials guests may have forgotten to bring with them; toothbrushes, toothpaste and body wash. Stock up on plenty of toilet paper, hand soap and hand lotion in advance, and remember to have a backup of freshly laundered hand towels for each bathroom.
The Finishing Touches
Stock up on those must-have finishing touches to enjoy your coziest Thanksgiving yet. Layer plump pillows in an assortment of fall hues to add warmth to your living space, and finish the look with soft blankets and chunky knitted throws. Furry poufs and floor pillows provide much-needed extra seating and add to the cozy setting, whilst large fur rugs set in front of the fire create the perfect place to unwind after a leisurely Thanksgiving meal.