Magazines make it look so easy to hold a picture-perfect Thanksgiving. In their idyllic vision of the holiday meal, the turkey is perfectly browned, the guests blissfully happy and the table large enough to seat 20 or more people. In reality, hosting a holiday meal doesn’t always go so smoothly. Family members bicker, the new sweet potato casserole recipe is a bust, and you really wish you hadn’t put off that home remodeling project to expand the dining room. Luckily, hosting a memorable Thanksgiving gathering is possible if you keep these tips in mind.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely special holiday. Not only does it kick off all of the winter festivities for 2018, but it also is a celebration of what we are grateful to have. At Master Remodelers, we are so grateful for 30 amazing years serving our community. We truly believe that we are doing more than simply remodeling homes - we are making families happier, healthier, safer, and more comfortable.
In our 30 years of remodeling, we've met dozens of families. We've had the distinguished pleasure of learning their stories, and in some cases, even learning their Thanksgiving traditions! The following ideas are all inspired by YOU - our muses. Do you have any ideas we haven't included? Let us know in the comments below!
Plan, Plan, Plan
Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner Planning
Some events come together easily with hardly any planning. Thanksgiving isn’t one of them. Spending a little time on planning before the gathering not only ensures that you won’t miss any of the minor details that make the holiday so special, but also helps reduce your stress level. List every single task that must be accomplished before the big day, from borrowing chairs from your neighbor to unearthing the Thanksgiving decorations to picking up the pies from Prantl’s Bakery in Shadyside. Once you have determined what you need to do, try to accomplish a few tasks every day.
Planning Your Guests
Who will be attending your 2018 Thanksgiving feast? Your home can only fit so many guests comfortably, so it's best to make sure you cap your invitation list at a comfortable number. Pick out your favorite invitations at a custom stationery boutique like Scribe and send out your invites! You won't know how many people are actually attending until you receive RSVP's, so the earlier you can send out the first wave to nail down seats and numbers, the better.
And speaking of seats, don't forget to put some thought into your seating arrangement. Does Aunt Bertha need to be a little closer to the restroom as she looses some mobility? Should the younger kids be set up at a separate table to cut down on spilling on your beautiful hardwood flooring? Learn all about design build remodeling for your dream hosting space here.
Spruce up the House
Cleaning Your Home for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner
Whether you’ll be hosting the family for the entire weekend or just Thanksgiving Day, preparing your house is a big job. In addition to cleaning your entire home, you’ll probably want to focus on deep cleaning guestrooms and guest bathrooms, particularly if they haven’t been used for a while. Do you plan on serving the meal in front of the tall bank of windows that faces your wooded backyard? A little cleaning will help keep the focus on nature rather than the smudges on the windows.
Thanksgiving Decor Ideas
Are you ready to really impress your guests? Decking out your home in fall colors, Thanksgiving themed decor, and seasonal scents will be sure to do just that.
Colors are a quick way to immediately add warmth to your home. Fall ushers in warm, neutral tones with bold accents such as tan chunky blankets with maroon velvet throw pillows. We recommend adding in some furs reminiscent of winter as well - either as a blanket or rug. Another quick and simple decor idea for fall undertones is to stack your wood near your fireplace. It may sound minimalist, but it harkens the warmth of a bursting fire with family gathered round.
Thanksgiving decor doesn't have to be cheesy. In fact, we are head over heels for chic Thanksgiving-themed statement pieces. Not all decor needs to be decaying gourdes and fabric turkeys. Think copper, metal, natural wood, or other earthy tones to bring out the fall feeling of a more stylish piece of Thanksgiving decor. For some inspiration, check out our local boutique Hot Haute Hot on Penn Avenue for some creative pieces.
Scents are actually one of the quickest ways to ensure your guests remember your Thanksgiving dinner. Studies show that memories are strongly attached to our olfactory sense, meaning that if you deck out your home with the perfect scented candles then your guests will always remember your meal when they smell a similar scent. Try making your own home recipe of fall scent with this simple recipe, or find your local Yankee Candle storefront to pick out the perfect scent for your feast.
Mix Old and New Traditions
Traditions reign on Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t introduce a few new elements, whether you want to change your usual tablescape or try a new recipe.
Tablescapes that Will Impress Your Guests
While we already have a full blog on this topic, we'll dive into a few of our favorite ideas briefly. We always recommend you allow ample space for each setting. Thanksgiving means over-stuffing ourselves, and you don't want to shame your guests for indulging themselves by squeezing seating too tightly together. Give your guests elbow room to enjoy their turkey!
Speaking of turkey, we've seen amazing examples of tablescapes where the focal point is the turkey itself. There's no need to over-think your tablescape when you already have the perfect statement piece - your meal! Adding warm colors, bold reds (such as in wine glasses), and thoughtful napkin designs are all you need to really wow your guests this year.
Make the Holiday Fun for the Kids
Patience is an important attribute on Thanksgiving Day. Hours before the turkey is ready, tantalizing aromas escape from the oven, making you wish you could dig in to the bird immediately. Although you understand the benefits of waiting, your younger guests may need a little persuading. Luckily, you can take their minds off the wait by offering a few kid-centric activities, such as:
- Thanksgiving Crafts: Whether the kids decorate their handprints to look like turkeys or try more elaborate projects, an arts and crafts project is sure to be a hit. Parenting magazine offers several creative suggestions, including handmade place cards and turkeys and miniature Mayflowers made with disposable cups.
- Scavenger Hunt: Give kids a list of items to find in your backyard and let them blow off a little excess energy before the big meal. In addition to asking kids to find pinecones and colorful leaves, stash a few pumpkins or miniature toy turkeys throughout your property.
- Turkey Day Games: Many games can be modified slightly to reflect a Thanksgiving theme. Do your kids like Pictionary? Make your own game cards and ask them to draw Thanksgiving-related items. Or create bingo cards with graphics of pumpkins, turkeys, leaves and pilgrims instead of numbers.
Offer Entertainment Zones
The football game is an integral part of Thanksgiving for some people, while others believe that the TV and digital devices should remain off all day long. If you’re hosting a big crowd, particularly if your group includes kids, it may be difficult to impose a completely TV-and-digital-free zone.
Although you may ask everyone to refrain from tweeting or cheering on the Redskins or Cowboys during the meal or immediately afterward, dividing your home into a few zones may help keep everyone happy. Designate your living room the place for good conversation, the den the spot for football and the family room the place for games and other activities. Will any members of the younger generation require naps? Keep a bedroom free for just for that purpose.
New Recipes for a Very 2018 Thanksgiving
New recipes are a fun way to mix in some new with your old family traditions. The last thing you want to deal with on Thanksgiving is a recipe fail, however, so be sure to try out the new dish a week or two in advance to make sure it will please your guests. If you're looking for some recipe inspiration this year, check out this thoughtful blog. From new takes on stuffing and fun finger foods while the main course is cooking to tasty cocktails, there are plenty of ways to infuse new traditions into your 2018 Thanksgiving dinner.
Ask for Help
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work involved in hosting a Thanksgiving gathering. Chances are you have a few family members who could help share the burden if you only ask. Take advantage of their good will and delegate some of the holiday prep work. Even young children can help by setting the holiday table, making place cards or removing clutter from the family room.
Your cleaning service or housekeeper will probably welcome the opportunity to make a little more money doing a pre-holiday deep cleaning. Not sure how you’re going to prepare a four-course, gourmet meal and socialize with your guests at the same time? There’s no rule that the meal must be cooked in your home. Ask a catering service to take care of the cooking or buy a fully-prepared meal from a local grocery store instead.
Holidays are all about enjoying spending time with your family and friends, and if things aren’t absolutely perfect this year, there’s always next year. During the next 12 months, you’ll have plenty of time to complete that kitchen remodeling project or finally begin the family room addition you’ve been contemplating. Contact us and let us know how we can help you create the perfect gathering space for your home.
Kitchn: 12 Essentials to Know When Hosting Thanksgiving for the First Time
Cooking Channel: 10 Ways to MacGyver Thanksgiving
HouseLogic: Tips on How to Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests