Creative Ideas for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re the lucky one who gets to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, you might be stressing a bit about how to make the dinner table (or tables!) look festive or how to manage your guests. Let not your heart be troubled! There are plenty of adorable and easy ways to dress up that dinner table for your family’s feast and some careful forethought will help your celebration run smoothly.

Be Consistent With Your Linens and Dishes

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get your old table leaves out of the closet and pop them in to give your guests those extra few inches of space. If you have more than one table to set, your dining room will look nicer if each table looks the same. Using different colored and different patterned table cloths can make the room look busy and muddled. A simple cloth in a rich fall color such as deep red, burnt orange, or brown will be especially appropriate. Cream or white are also classic tablecloth colors and lend an elegant look. Once you’ve covered the tables in matching cloths, lay out your placemats and dishes, being mindful that each guest has plenty of elbow room. Use cloth napkins which coordinate with your tablecloth, not necessarily matching, but rather a complimentary color of the same autumnal palette. If you didn’t splurge on cloth napkins, nicer quality disposable napkins will work just as well and can be found in a variety of different Thanksgiving designs (plus you won’t have to wash them later!). Finally, put down your glasses and silverware, being sure that each piece is free of fingerprints and is properly placed. Unsure how to set the table correctly? Check here for help:

Making the Table Look Pretty

Once the basics of the table are in place, you’re ready for the fun part – decorating. Depending on how formal or informal your gatherings are, your table should fit your personal style and personality. Some inexpensive and lovely table items come directly from nature: pine cones, gourds, acorns, and Indian corn. Fill an empty glass vase with any of these items and then scatter some randomly on the table. Tie three ears of Indian corn together with raffia or ribbon and place it in a wooden bowl as a centerpiece. Fresh flowers are another excellent centerpiece option. Just be sure what you do for one table you do for all the tables. When it comes to centerpieces or any table decoration, be sure that the item is not so high that it blocks your guests’ views of one another. This can be annoying as people are trying to have a conversation. Small pumpkins, candles, and artificial fall leaf garlands can all look glorious on your dining table without obstructing views or taking up too much room. Artificial cranberries are also available from craft stores and look especially festive in a glass vase or bunched around a candle on a small platter. Play around with different items and arrangements until you have the look you’re trying to achieve.

Considering Your Seating Arrangement

When hosting Thanksgiving, it is up you whether you decide in advance where your guests will sit or whether you will let them choose as they are ready to sit down to eat. If you have relatives who are notorious bickerers, it might be a good idea to set your tables with place cards in advance to avoid any awkward seat-shifting later when the bickerers realize they’ve ended up next to one another. There are many clever ways to make place cards. They can be simple or ornate, depending upon your preference. Using card stock and your computer printer, select a fancy font and print your guests’ names, then cut them out and place them on the dinner plates or propped up on their dinner glasses. Another cute idea is to create cartoon versions of your guests, print them out and set them on their plates. They will have fun guessing which one represents them and lots of laughs will ensue. These can be made at Children also love to make place cards for their family members. It is a very cute touch to have a crayon-written child’s scrawl at each place setting.

Other things to keep in mind in regard to seating is that the hostess is positioned close to the kitchen and can easily excuse herself from the table to grab any forgotten condiments or a replacement fork for someone who dropped theirs. If you have a table exclusively for children, seat parents of younger children closer to the kids’ table so they can easily help with serving food and keeping their little ones in line. If Uncle Ray and Aunt Mathilda haven’t exchanged a kind word in years, be sure to seat them at different tables. Thanksgiving is not the time for a family feud.

Take Time to Be Thankful

It’s a nice idea to go around the table and have everyone express what they are grateful for that year. These moments can be especially memorable and often humorous or touching. This is also a good way to settle everyone down and give them something to do while the hostess is bringing out the food.

With these ideas, you should be able to formulate a plan for your celebration and have a good idea of how you want your tables to look. Remember that less is often more and that simplicity is often elegant. Keep your cool and be willing to be flexible if something doesn’t go as planned. Most importantly, remember to take the time to enjoy the holiday and your family. The dishes can wait until they’ve all gone home.

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