Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday! Every year my husband and I invite our family (3 Parents, 4 Brothers, 3 Sisters, 6 Nieces, 5 Nephews, 3 Great Nieces and 4 Great Nephews) and a few friends to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast. As our family continues to grown…so does the number of chairs at the table. Hosting ten or more people at your home is no small undertaking. In fact, it can be extremely stressful if as my Mom puts it, “You don’t have all your ducks in a row.”
If you’ve been searching for tips and inspirations for hosting a memorable, stress free Thanksgiving…today’s your lucky day! You’re getting a sneak peek at my Thanksgiving table and ideas for keeping sane for turkey day.
Although I am a fan of keeping things simple, place cards are a must at my Thanksgiving table. I’m aware some may view them as formal. However, as a host I feel they make it easier for guests to find their seats at a large table. They also allow me to seat family and friends in a way that encourages multigenerational conversation.
When I was first married, I was eager to impress my new family members with my skills for entertaining. I remember inviting everyone over that year for Thanksgiving. Being newly married, the C.P.A. chefy hubby and I were just starting our lives together. We didn’t have enough of anything to be hosting a dinner for thirty. However, after convincing my soul mate it was extremely important to me to have our families together for our first Thanksgiving as “Man and Wife,” there was no turning back.
Our “first” Thanksgiving was memorable. To be honest though, I’d rather forget it. Why? Well, since we didn’t have enough silverware for everyone, I had bought what I thought at the time was heavy duty plastic utensils. Oh, was I wrong! As my father began to cut into his turkey, there was a loud snap. Within seconds, the room filled with the sounds of snapping forks. In order for everyone to be able to eat their turkey that year, I had to pull out our real silverware. Since we obviously didn’t have enough…which was the reason I had to use plastic in the first place, relatives either allowed someone to cut their poultry for them or waited until a set became available. I can look back on things now and laugh, but at the time I was mortified.
I think you’ll understand why I’m not a fan of using plastic utensils when serving poultry or steak. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to invest money in expensive flatware. My recommendation is to frequent stores like Home Goods in search of good quality flatware for less. If you can’t find or can’t afford to purchase enough silverware in the same pattern, no need to worry! Eclectic is in, so there’s time to build up your collection! Set your table using various flatware patterns. I believe the same holds true with glassware and china. Look for everyday china that’s white or cream in color. Stay away from busy patterns and colors.
When investing in neutral colored plates and platters, you’ll be able to use them year round. Let candles, flower arrangements, napkins, table cloths, etc. transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
A few weeks prior to your feast, clean and set aside the items you plan to use for your Thanksgiving table. Taking an inventory in advance, gives you enough time to assess the items you currently have and purchase more if needed. Organize decor by holiday and label each container you’ve placed items in before storing. Inside each container, I usually place a list that includes the content and quantity of each item inside the box. Decor that is used throughout the year like candles, should be stored together in a container that’s easily accessible when you’re preparing for company.
Setting the table a day or two before Thanksgiving, gives a host the opportunity to focus on food preparation and presentation. Although I have a huge family, I still enjoy having everyone seated around a long (very long) table. After the chairs are placed around the table, space is limited. Therefore, my entire menu is served family style on platters and in bowls. Wine bottles are set on the table for guests to help themselves and water glasses are filling in advance of anyone taking their seats.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!