Thanksgiving Countdown: How to Make Hosting a Little Easier This Year..

My friend Emily {from Burlap Kitchen} and I have joined forces to fight the anxiety of hosting a huge holiday meal. She’ll be taking charge of the menu planning, cooking, and budget and I’m sharing my general hosting and decor thoughts. As the host or hostess, it’s too often that we can’t even enjoy our own event. We want to make your holiday hosting experience enjoyable again!

Here’s the scenario: It’s the night before Thanksgiving, and you’re hosting 20 guests at your home.

The clock has not frozen in time like you hoped it would, and now there’s only a matter of hours sitting between you and the big day. Are you ready? The menu has been planned for weeks, meal ingredients have been pulled and staged on the counter and in the fridge. The serving dishes are out and waiting to be filled, the house is clean, and the table is set. You probably already have a completed dish or two in the fridge.

Still.. there you are.. laying in bed thinking about all that must be done yet. You can’t fall asleep. Who can blame you? There are so many things involved with hosting a large event, let alone something with as much hype as a holiday dinner. You want everything to be amazing.

Simple centerpiece

How can we throw the perfect party, and still get sleep the night before?

Here are my top 5 recommendations for hosting a simpler Thanksgiving:

  1. Don’t feel the pressure to try something new.

    Thanksgiving is a day steeped in tradition. It’s why we love it so much! The most important thing about this holiday is being with those you love and thanking God for everything you’ve been blessed with. Sometimes, we feel like we should take this time to try out a new recipe, but it’s absolutely OK to stick with traditional food. Family recipes you’ve always made – like Aunt Anne’s green beans – are what make the day so special. As your guest list changes over the years, so will the menu. Be sure to talk about the food with your guests and see if everyone agrees on what is working and what isn’t.
    Oh.. and can we all agree on one thing? If you’re not getting the chance to eat the food you’ve prepared, something has to go. Thanksgiving is not a day to become a martyr. If you need help, there are plenty of people that care about you and would be more than willing to take on some of the responsibility! Don’t feel like you have to shoulder it all.

  2. Ignore Pinterest for the month of November.. and maybe December as well.

    This is something I’ve preached on before, and I mean it. Pinterest can be detrimental. It traps you like a web of insecurity, telling you that whatever you’re doing just isn’t good enough. There are thousands upon thousands of pins for Thanksgiving crafts, activities and games, and expensive tablescapes. I’m sure you could be inspired enough to buy all new beautiful linens and plates, as well as furniture and accessories.. all because of one day. Oh, don’t forget to run to your local florist for a couple of perfect centerpieces!
    Don’t buy into the lie that a perfect holiday meal is one with as much decor as a wedding reception.
    {If you need reminded just how much a wedding costs, you might not have been the one who paid the bill.}

  3. Remember: It’s just ONE meal.

    You might burn the stuffing, or spill your drink in the middle of dinner.. but is that what everyone will remember? Probably not. They’ll remember the people they saw, the love they felt, the laughter experienced, and the hugs given. It’s about making memories, so even if the burnt stuffing is talked about for a few years, that’s alright. Give yourself a break! There’s always next year.

  4. Write it out.

    I’ve watched my mother-in-law throw 7 successful Thanksgiving dinners without a single hitch. Or perhaps there was something that went awry; but you’d never know it! One thing I took note of {no pun intended}, is that she is a list maker. From family recipes to her lengthy to-do list and the menu, it’s all written down. She marks things off as they’re completed, and she can assign remaining tasks by simply checking the list. Even if you normally operate just fine without a list, there are too many things on your plate to wing it. You’d be very disappointed if you found something left in the refrigerator long after dinner has been served.

  5. Analyze: What Worked? What Didn’t?

    Another thing that my mother-in-law does to make her huge Thanksgiving event successful is to take the time AFTER everything is done to look back and analyze the day. They can be statistical, or humorous, but no detail is unimportant. These things are all helpful to save and look back on for future years! Some of the notes she takes:
    * The number of people at dinner  * The amount of food & drink she prepared and how much was used – was it enough, or was it too much?  *Comments about the food (“Mashed potatoes were perfect this year – substituted sour cream for milk!”)  *Decor  *Things people said or did that were memorable

    Dinner Table Set

Thanks to her note-taking skills, the Miller family will be forever blessed by these Thanksgiving memories:

  • The year the stove had a fire from the cherry pie drippings. Had to spend 2 hours cleaning the over before I could get the turkey in.
  • The year the broccoli salad never made it out of the fridge.
  • The year the warming rolls never made it out of the microwave.
  • The year of the hard mashed potatoes because we tried the boxed kind. It’s really tough to make a lot when you do this!
  • The year someone got bb’s from the wild bird.
  • The year Alivia {the youngest talker at the table} said the blessing and no one could understand her!The holidays really can put you under a lot of stress and become totally overwhelming. Sometimes, the added pressure just becomes too much. Often, I’ve found the problem isn’t in the expectations other people have of us, but the pressure we put on ourselves. Quit striving for life to be picture-perfect all the time, and don’t feel like you have to document every party or event on Instagram. In fact, maybe we should ban that word PERFECT. Nothing is, anyway. Let’s stop adding chaos to our lives and start simplifying!

Published by CDH Designs

I am a Mom and self-employed Interior Designer. I own a small design studio & home decor shop in downtown Emporium, PA. It’s a small town in the PA Wilds of north-central Pennsylvania. We have some of the most beautiful scenery, and Fall (my favorite season) is breathtaking. I blog for fun to keep my friends and clients informed of what's going on in the design and decorating world, to share my designs, and to show what we're working on in our own home.

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