For most Americans, tomorrow is a special day of gratitude, family dynamics and loads of delicious food. My sister-in-law is hosting the holiday gathering at her home this year, but in years past (and hopefully many years to come) we have embraced the craziness that comes along with a houseful of family, way too many cooks in the kitchen and too little space.
Even with the chaos, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (no, it’s not the food), because I love to have loads of family around without the hyperactive exchange of brightly colored gifts, the shreds of wrapping paper floating all about and the over extravagance of way too many gifts (with way too many parts and pieces to keep track of) that accompanies our next big gathering at Christmas.
To me, Thanksgiving is pretty low key. If there is family, tasty food, a warm place to sit and a cozy place to watch the parade and football, I count it good. With that being said, if you’re hosting your own family gathering tomorrow, here are a few inspirational ideas that might help you set the mood, welcome your guests, embrace the chaos and come out the other side feeling. . . well, “thankful.”
Create a warm and inviting room (literally and figuratively).
Consider turning down the heater for your gathering and light a fire instead. Everyone loves the warm glow of crackling logs, but if your weather is too warm try lighting a few candles instead. Add some warm throws, even if no one plans to use them — they simply say “stay awhile.” Also add some fall color and simple rustic décor to quickly make a room more inviting.
Create seating that is conducive to conversation.
Arrange your seating so that people can have a direct line of sight with one another. This makes conversation so much easier and more natural. If you don’t own a sectional, try creating a sectional-type arrangement for a popular seating option.
Create a table that screams or even just whispers something special.
Thanksgiving table settings can be extravagant or simple, but they should make folks want to sit, stay and eat for a while. Make sure your display is short enough for guests to easily see over so they will hopefully want to linger long after the dessert is done.
Give your guests an opportunity to be thankful.
Set aside some time for guests to express their blessings either verbally or with the written word. Consider your family and how each member is comfortable sharing. You can even play some fun Thanksgiving games to lighten the mood.
Encourage guests to take it home.
Save some cleanup, refrigerator space and calories by stocking up on boxes, bags or plastic tubs your guests can load up and take home. Dress up the carryouts so that people will remember to take them along and provide a marker or pen for labeling.