Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, thanks to its simplicity. It's a chance to be surrounded by good vibes and (hopefully) good food. It's one of the more low-key holidays and yet, stress can creep up in unexpected places.
In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, I asked a handful of event experts to provide their turkey day hacks. Whether it's your first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner or your 10th, these are the things to keep in mind in order to pull off a memorable time with family and friends.
Ask for help.
Consider ordering certain menu items from a local caterer to alleviate some of the stress," says Christina Kassi of A Fare Extraordinaire. "If you don't want to cater food, then get your friends and family to bring over dishes, but don't try and do it all yourself! Just remind the guests that if they bring any food, it needs to be ready to eat."
Set the mood with music.
Cue up a jazzy soundtrack. "There's something about mid-century crooners that make any event sound like an elegant holiday party," says Alessandra Wood, director of style for Modsy. "Miles Davis, Otis Redding, Etta James, or anyone from The Rat Pack creates the nostalgia of a vintage cocktail party, synonymous with the holiday spirit," she added.
Keep things comfortable.
"Even though the weather is cool, you might want to consider turning down the A/C depending on the amount of guests you are expecting," says Christina. "For a large guest count, we suggest keeping the temperature at 10 degrees lower than the typical temperature to ensure the house is cool enough when the guests arrive and the temperature remains cool during the evening."
Greet your guests with something special.
Specialty drinks are a fun way to welcome guests, says Christina. A fall inspired cocktail is the perfect touch for your family and loved ones as they walk through the door. Her favorite is an autumn old-fashioned made with bourbon and a cinnamon and nutmeg infused syrup. Garnish the drink with an orange twist and cinnamon stick. Cristen Faherty, event planner for Cristen & Co, recommends making a big batch the night before and placing it near the entryway. Making it easier for you to serve, day-of.
Dress up your table.
Pumpkins, flowers, candles, fruits, vegetables and garlands are some of the fun decor items Christina uses to dress up tablescapes. "A long, leafy garland made of smilax, ivy or your choice of a vine, works best for long, rectangular tables," she says. If you opt for the fruit and veggie combo, Christina recommends jewel-toned shades such as eggplant, lemons, red apples, grapes, artichokes and oranges.
Kick your pumpkins up a notch by painting them. "Navy, blush, peach and your choice of a warm metallic hue is a sophisticated palette you can experiment with," says Christina. Candles work well with any of these options or as stand-alone items. However, Christina warns against using scented candles. "You don't want them to compete with the amazing smells from your food!" Provide plenty of food options.
"Thanksgiving is the ultimate farm-to-table meal," says Dana Klitzberg of Blue Aubergine. "It is a celebration of the bounty of the season and the best kind of family-style feast." Which means there's plenty of vegetable options for non-meat eating guests. Seasonal items include squash, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, potatoes and stuffing which can easily be dressed up with apples, pears and nuts.
Don't be afraid to mix and match.
Lifestyle expert Reyne Hirsch recommends hitting your local antique mall to pick up unique plateware. Look for depression glass plates and glassware. Single plates are very affordable and there are numerous patterns to mix and match. Keep an eye out for various wine or champagne glasses and napkin rings to add to the uniqueness of each place setting.
And don't forget, the most important part of the evening is the chance to share a meal with loved ones while giving thanks for all of life's blessings. Style Me Pretty Contributor - Ximena N. Larkin is a writer and publicist. She lives in Chicago with her husband and dog. More info at ximenalarkin.com