This year, I'm heading to my parents' house in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. It's idyllic - a cozy New England house in a charming New England town. My mom is a great cook and is very organized so it's very relaxing for all. I'm very happy to be their guest. There is a part of me, though, who misses hosting Thanksgiving. I used to host Thanksgiving for a very large crowd - sometimes up to 25 people. My favorite part was transforming my small-ish house into a welcoming home ready to feed and accommodate LOTS of people. The food part is boring to me - I thrive on moving furniture around and being creative with tablescapes and "moments". All on a very tight budget. I'm a Yankee so I don't like to spend money. Here are some of my favorite tricks that I've gathered along the way...
A convenient bar is of utmost importance when hosting a holiday gathering. I like to place it pretty close to the front door with a lot of room to circulate around it. I usually keep beer outside (the men can brave the cold), while keeping wine and booze inside. You don't need an official bar cart to create a bar. All you need (besides the beverages) is a tray, glasses, an ice bucket, a container for lemons and limes, and a stirrer. I think it's also nice to have some candles and maybe a little bouquet of greens. Just to elevate things a bit. Here's an example of a tray that's packed with style.
If you're hosting a crowd, it's hard to have everyone sit together at a table so I try to have a proper table and chairs for my older guests and a kids table for my younger guests. The rest can make do sitting on sofas and occasional chairs. Folding tables and chairs are a must. I'll spread them out throughout my house so it almost feels like a restaurant. I unite them with white craft paper and put a jar of crayons on each table to encourage creativity. Of course, candles are key as well as little bouquets of greens cut from your garden. Or you could pick up some bouquets of flowers from the grocery store and put them in little glasses throughout your house. If I'm going to buy flowers from the store, I like to do all the same kind. Keep it simple.
If you're having a sit down dinner, the table can be a source of STRESS! Here's what I say - there are no rules. Mix and match your linens, plates, silverware and glassware. Just try to do it in an organized fashion. Like every other place setting has matching items. Or you can mix and match within each place setting. As long as it looks like there is some order, you're good.
In the example below (this is from a holiday house tour that I did a few years ago), I mixed three different sets of china (dinner plate, salad plate and dessert plate), gold with silver, and old with new. Another favorite trick is to put a sprig of greens in the napkin. If you need place cards, you can take a Seckel pear and throw a tag on it and there you have it!
I'm all about sharing ideas in home design, gardening and living so we can love our homes. I'm joined by my dog, Boomer, who is always by my side.