It’s that time of year! I feel like we were just enjoying summer at the pool, but alas, fall is here and the most wonderful (and stressful) time of year has arrived. We have hosted Thanksgiving for several years at our home, and each year I learn something new about orchestrating the chaos that is cooking, cleaning, prepping, hosting, and enjoying the day. Here are a few VERY practical tips that will have you spending time with your guests and not holed up in the kitchen.

TIP 1 – HAVE A PLAN

A couple weeks before the big day, come up with a plan of action for the meal and timing of things. For me, this means ordering the bird through our local grocery store and any sides I don’t feel confident making. I’ll be making a couple of my go to dishes (spicing sausage dressing!) and if I’m feeling extra domestic, I might make an easy pumpkin pie with my daughter as an afternoon activity. Start a grocery list at this time and add to it as you think of additional things you need at the store when you go the week of Thanksgiving…or skip the craziness and order your groceries on line. Shipt just came to our town and I’m basking it all its glory!

TIP 2 – SET THE TABLE THE DAY BEFORE

I like to use our china and stemware on special occasions, so I only set the table the day before since we have kids at home, but if you aren’t having to ward off little hands and curious minds, set the table a few days out so you can call it D.O.N.E! This year I plan to use my trusty blue and white ginger jars paired with grocery store florals, dried eucalyptus greens (bought from Trader Joe’s) and small pumpkins and gourds scattered about. Nothing fancy, but pretty and a change from our ordinary table.

Add extra pizazz with these FREE PRINTABLE marble inspired menus and place cards.

TIP 3 – SAVE FESTIVE PLATES FOR APPS & DESSERT

Cut down on all the dish washing and use festive paper plates and napkins for appetizers and dessert (and the kids’ table). Make it more playful or more fun depending on your guests, but it helps make the day feel comfortable and less stuffy.

TIP 4 – GIVE GUESTS A JOB

How many times do you ask your host how you can help as they prepare the meal? Every time? Me too. Have a mental list of ways people can help: make drinks, pour the wine, refill the water pitcher, say the blessing, keep the simple appetizers filled, or take care of the coats/bags. I typically have my husband and toddler welcome people as they come to to the door for our parties – our guests love seeing the excitement in a child’s face and helps set the tone for a fun afternoon/evening.

TIP 5 – BE READY TO GIVE A TOAST

I sometimes forget the importance of a toast, but it is such a great way to address your guests and be intentional with your thankfulness for them. Whether friends or family, toasts have a way of making people feel warm, welcome and invited into a space. When giving a toast remember the following

– Toasts typically are offered by the host and come after blessing the food

– Make the toast short and sweet, under a minute is best

– Saying what everyone can be thankful for is a great start

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Since moving to Iowa and leaving most of our family in Texas, hosting family and friends for the holidays has become our new normal. From deep frying turkeys, trying to find canned pumpkin in Amsterdam (which we did!) and surprise engagements, some of our most treasured Thanksgivings have been those spent with our friends. So pull out those marble serving trays from Target, cook up a storm, and let me make the paper part of the dinner easy.

Download these free Friendsgiving Printables and pass the pie!

 

Hand out these recipe cards for guests to fill out and exchange so you can be thankful for your friends’ cooking throughout the year!

 

FRIENDSGIVING PRINTABLES

Invitation

Menu

Place Cards (can be used as food labels)

Recipe Cards

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