Let me set the scene: I’m still in my pajamas with a cup (more like cupssss) of coffee watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, possibly handling a slight headache from that extra glass of wine the night before, and if I’m being honest, totally looking forward to stuffing my face. It’s Thanksgiving morning in the Bacon house and I’m guessing that this scene could be playing in your home too (at least I hope I’m not alone!).
It seems like Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for so many of us and I think it has a lot to do with that awesome attitude of gratitude, not feeling so much decorating pressure for the day and not having the added stress of gift-giving. If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, I want to share five simple tips that will hopefully let you linger on that couch in your PJs just a little longer.
Tip No. 1…Mood Maker: Before you take off with all your plans, think about how you want the day to feel. Is it all about football, comfort food and cozy sweats? Or is it a more formal sit down affair? Or maybe somewhere in between with a help-yourself-buffet setup? Let that mood set the tone for your day. Think about creating a music playlist that you can have on in the background that will add to your overall vibe. Before you start Pinterest-ing your centerpiece ideas, keep in mind that they should also take their cue from your mood (stiff and formal centerpieces will feel out of place with football and finger food). For ideas, look around your house and see what you have that you could use. Round up some votives (they don’t have to match) and place them in groups down the center of the table with some taller candles mixed in. Add in some greenery (faux or real) and then sprinkle in a mixture of pumpkins and gourds and you’re good to go.
Tip No. 2…Menu Plan: I know that some (maybe most?) of you have a traditional Thanksgiving menu used from year to year. But if you don’t or if you’re looking to shake things up, check out Real Simple’s ThanksgivingPage. Be sure to scroll to the last slide which offers 4 different full Thanksgiving menus including apps, dessert and even wine pairings. One thing I always try to keep in mind when thinking about a menu is adding in some recipes that can be made the day before. There is enough going on that Thursday so try to take a little off your plate (not literally off your plate…eat up, buttercup) by getting done what you can on the Wednesday. I also recommend having a little list of what you plan on serving to make sure everything gets out on the table. Might sound silly but there have been years in our house where one of the side dishes didn’t get the chance to make an appearance.
Tip No. 3…Craft your Cocktail: It’s no secret…I LOVE a good cocktail. Having your own signature cocktail for the day does two important things. One, your family and friends will feel super welcomed and special when they find there is a holiday cocktail ready and waiting for them to enjoy. Two, it will allow for you to have a little extra time when guests first arrive as they can get right into all the cocktailing on their own. I’m not sure about you, but there have been MANY a time when the doorbell rings and I’m just stepping out of the shower. If you have all the fixings, garnishes and glassware set up in a designated area or on a bar cart, guests can just make their way over and serve themselves. I always like to print out and frame the instructions for how to mix so no one will miss a step or be left wondering what to do.
Tip No. 4…‘Twas the Night Before: We love to entertain over here and if one thing is for sure it’s this: THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME. I always feel like I have plenty of time to get everything done and then I end up like a holiday hurricane whizzing around the house (and yes, I probably should have gotten out of my PJs a little earlier). To combat this as best as possible, I try to do as much as I can the night before. Iron the linens (if you’re the ironing type), actually set the table, prep all the food that you can, clean the house, set out your serving dishes and serving utensils, get your dessert plates and coffee/tea station ready and prep as much of the cocktail cart/bar area as you can. We sometimes will even create a prep schedule for the next day letting us know when things need to get into the oven so we can do as little thinking as possible!
Tip No. 5…Clear it Quickly: Everyone loves to eat but no one loves the dishes. This last tip may seem completely ridiculous but has really helped us to enjoy the day when we are hosting. I make sure our dishwasher is clear to start the day. After eating, it gets loaded with anything that can fit. The rest of the dishes, pots and pans get (discreetly) placed into a large Rubbermaid container and brought down to the basement where the bin gets filled with water and a little dish soap. No one is stuck washing dishes, they aren’t sitting in your kitchen sink or on the counter and they also get a good soak overnight. You can rejoin your party (and your drink) and no one feels like they have to stand over a sink helping.
Guys, I know these aren’t revolutionary or mind-blowing tips….but they have helped over here along the way and maybe one or two of them can do the same for you. I hope that when your guests show you’ll be ready, relaxed and have a glass of wine in your hand but if you don’t….that’s totally okay (because you have signature cocktails ready to go, remember!?).