It's that time of the year again to give Thanks & cut some turkey! Wow - how time flies. Getting ready for Thanksgiving can be a lot of work, especially if you're hosting. It seems like no matter how soon you start your preparations, there's never enough time. Either the grocery stores are crowed, your to-do list keeps growing, or you haven't started cooking. On top of that, you have no idea what you're going to wear. It can be very stressful. We totally understand, having helped host countless parties and events we know how stressful party planning is. But what we have learned is getting stressed out only delays your preparations and is no fun. That's why we've found staying organized is your friend. You shouldn't be in the kitchen during Thanksgiving; you've got to enjoy yourself too. So we put together five tips for hosting a flawless Thanksgiving party!
1. Have an Approximate Guest Count
When people are hungry, they are hungry. And when it's their turn to spoon some mac and cheese, and there's no mac and cheese left, oh they're going to be agitated. When I was in the catering world, one of the #1 rules was to overestimate everything - especially the number of guests. So let's say you're expecting 15 guests, then cook for 20 - 25 guests. The difference in number may sound small but it makes a whole lot of difference. As a general rule, a 9" casserole dishes feeds up to six to eight comfortably, maybe 10 if you have at least three other dishes for guests to select from. A half size, deep (4" deep) aluminum pan feeds 18 to 20 persons comfortably. Do relay your approximate guest count to any guests bringing dishes, especially if they're brave enough to bring a main dish. And don't forget extra ice for the drinks! Guests will more than likely want to take a plate on the road with them. So don't be afraid to cook a little bit more than expected to attend :)
2. Stick to a Menu
Creating a Thanksgiving menu shouldn't be too hard given we all know and love its staples. What, however, sets a dinner party or special gathering apart from any standard dinner is you're leading your guests to the main event - a lovely spread of some yummy entrees! Plus, this gives time for all guests to arrive to enjoy the grand meal together. Don't get me wrong - you don't have to print a menu for everyone to have. But it's a good idea as the host to jot down the menu for the occasion and categorize all the dishes into these three categories:
- Appetizers -
- Entrees & Side Dishes -
- Desserts (includes coffee and teas) -
Remember to place dishes guests are bringing into the above categories too. Organizing your meal is tremendously helpful! It helps you as a host to stay organized by guiding the order you prepare meals (prepare easy meals first and store until ready to serve - trust me) and by prioritizing which meals need to come out when. It's not a bad idea to have a tentative timeline for each category. For example, set aside 1hr for appetizers, 1 to 1.5 hours for entrees, and desserts and coffee for the rest of the evening. Having such time frames will encourage guests to mingle and gives you time to sneak away a few minutes to ensure the next dishes are ready to go.
3. Dress Your Table Beautifully
It's one thing for food to taste good, but it's even better when it looks good! Aside for being attractive to the eye, it really gives your guests something delicious to look forward to. It shows you the host really went out your way for well deserved guests. If you're having a sit down dinner, where you're placing food in the middle of the table, it may be difficult to have a stunning centerpiece. Instead, transfer food into beautiful platters of similar colors/designs (I love white and pewter platters) and focus on using quality pieces (e.g. plates, silverware, napkins) for you table setting. Show off your attention to detail by using place cards in the shape of acorns or leaves and using beautiful serving utensils and salt/pepper shakers. If you have the room, stick to low centerpieces and a simple garland/runner or several small floral arrangements. Avoid tall arrangements unless you are decorating a buffet table. If you're having a buffet, chaffers are helpful and buffet cards add a very nice touch!
4. Be the Chicest Host Ever
Who said the host can't look fabulous? You're the host, so you have to be the best dressed person of the party. Yes, you will be busy running between greeting everyone and making sure nothing is burning in the kitchen. But you'll just do it all looking chic. To help keep you moving but looking ah-mazing, try a fitted, well-cut sheath dress that has a touch of spandex/stretch to it. A nice caramel, earth tone, navy or black color flatters almost everyone. Pair your dress with some bling accessories, like a stunning necklace or bracelet, and some hott stud earrings or low-maintenance hoops. Throw on some badd pumps (have your ballerina flats nearby) and finish your outfit with a smoky eye or your favorite make-up. Add some red lips and you're done!
5. Light Candles
While I was growing up in sweet home Alabama, we would boil cinnamon sticks to scent the home before guests arrived for a party. Not that the food didn't smell delicious, but we didn't want guests to know we just finished cooking :) In hindsight, I would totally do that again, but I'd enlist the help of scented candles. I adore candles; the ambiance they create is undeniable and perfect for a cozy gathering! I'm not saying your home shouldn't smell like your yummy food, but a lovely scent helps set the mood for a memorable time with family and friends. The smell of food is best reserved for when it's actually time to eat :) A few scented candles safety stationed at your foyer, living room and bar/beverage station and whereever guests will gather will do the trick. Light your candles 20-30 mins before guests arrive, and they'll totally love that you were anticipating their arrival!
Let us know which tips you loved and leave us your comments. Have a blessed Thanksgiving! Remember - joy designs homes!