Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a white tablecloth and polished-silver event to be elegant. Small, thoughtful touches are all that guests need to feel the Thanksgiving spirit. Here are a few ideas to spruce up your table decor:
Using fruit can be a nice touch and inexpensive (especially, if you already grow them).
Use pears, acorns, persimmons, crab apples, etc.
Bring a bit of nature in for a more organic look (and inexpensive). Search your yard for autumn leaves, twigs, branches or use your sweet gum trees for decorating your table.
Personally, I LOVE the idea of using natural decorations like fruit and foliage because you don't have to store them!
And we can all use some extra storage space!
Start the day with a list of kitchen tasks. In general, begin by assembling the stuffing, mashing potatoes, and making pie crust. The cook can rest and dress a couple of hours before guests arrive, while the turkey roasts and the pies bake. As guests arrive, you can be caught preparing appetizers, salad dressings and opening wines, social activities that allow you to chat and prep at the same time.
Sounds like a lot of work, right?! Well it doesn't have to be.... try sharing the duties by having a pot luck (welcome to 2010). If that's the route you go, then you (the host/hostess) should make the main dish (turkey, ham, etc) and allow your guests to bring the mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies, etc. Instead of using name cards on the each place setting, use the name cards in front of the side dishes to let everyone know who brought what...for example: "Aunt Gina's Creamy Mashed Potatoes" or "Mom's Corn Bread Stuffing".
Host/Hostess Do's and Don'ts:
You have the menu, the decorations, the guest list -- the biggest variable left is your stress level, and stress has a funny way of making us morph into those beings (or other B-words) we don't want to be. Relax. Or you could just find yourself behaving like...
BAD PLANNING=NO VISITING...AND THAT'S WHY YOUR GUEST ARE THERE....SO SIT DOWN AND VISIT!!
The Insecure Faultfinder: Do not start telling everyone whats wrong with your food dishes before they even pick up their silverware. If you're one of those that sit down and say...."So no one thinks the soup's too salty?" or "Sorry, but the turkey is probably really dry", or "Are the mashed potatoes are too lumpy"....Really, what can they say?! Stop worrying! Let your guests decide what's good....and unless your preparing Thanksgiving dinner for Emeril, you shouldn't worry about your guests critiquing the entire meal. RELAX and let them just enjoy the food!
The Child Chaser: Okay...okay...we all know your house is GORGEOUS....but do you really need to chase all of the kids around with paper towels and glass cleaner? They're guests too, and they also need to be "entertained". So, keep things "kid friendly" and "house friendly", by setting up a special kids table. Use butcher paper as a table cloth so they can draw or write messages. Set up some crafts/activities or have Thanksgiving themed coloring books on hand. This will keep them entertained and keep their parents happy too!
The Bickersons: It's a challenge to have people over when you and your spouse or significant other are in the midst of a squabble, but it happens. No matter what, avoid nit-picking at each other and rehashing any long-running arguments. Your guests WILL feel the tension and become uncomfortable. So, put it to rest before your guests arrive and enjoy each other's company.
The Depriver: A good host/hostess always has some wine or other alcoholic beverages available for their guests. Just because you aren't a "big drinker" doesn't mean you should deprive your guests from what they enjoy. Just avoid the KEG....you DO want everyone to be responsible, so too much isn't always the best way to go either....Need a festive beverage idea? Here's one I found that looks perfect for turkey day!
• 1 lime wedge
• Red sugar
• 8 ounces vodka
• 1 ounce cranberry juice
• 1 teaspoon vermouth
• Skewered fresh cranberries (for garnish)
Rub the rims of 2 martini glasses with a lime wedge, and then dip each rim into a saucer of red sugar, rotating gently to evenly coat. Chill in freezer at least 10 minutes. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake vodka, cranberry juice, and vermouth until chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into chilled glasses, and garnish with skewered fresh cranberries.
So, that's all I have for you today....happy planning!