Preparing a full-fledged Thanksgiving meal is understandably stressful enough, but now add on hosting a party and you’re probably in overdrive. You don’t have to do it all—you just need the tools (and a strategy) to help you pull it all off. Trust us—you’ll be so thankful you started planning this one one well in advance.
Decide what spin you want your party to have. You could go sophisticated and formal, or keep your celebration more laidback and carefree. Depending on where you live and the weather that time of year, you could even consider hosting outdoors. Let those factors help guide you when picking a theme. A Thanksgiving party is likely going to be more conventional than, say, your Friendsgiving get-together might have been. Your guests and family are going to expect the classics, so you want to pick a theme that still allows for tradition, but helps tie everything together in a way that’s fresh and unique.
The biggest question is how much of the cooking responsibility you want (or feel you can handle). Are you going to prepare the whole meal, or hire a caterer? While incorporating the classic offerings, from turkey to stuffing, is a failsafe, you can switch up your format. If a plated meal feels too stuffy or formal, offer everything buffet or family style. You can never go wrong with a dessert table, where all the Thanksgiving favorites (and then some), like pumpkin pie and pecan squares, can be accounted for.
Though the focal point is the meal, music can make the soiree more atmospheric, but choose something more ambient, like a pianist or jazz ensemble. While your theme will dictate your decor, you can never go wrong with pumpkins. Use one as a vase for a centerpiece, or attach place cards to mini pumpkins.
For a traditional sit-down meal with a glamorous spin, turn your dining area into a vintage railway. A jazz ensemble provides the soundtrack, while wall murals provide your guests with beautiful scenery. Light your table with candlesticks, and opt for luxe linens. This one is perfect for a plated dinner filled with the classics.
Take your fete outside and throw a woodland wonderland. It’s rustic-meets-formal with a long, reclaimed wood table, bistro lights and plenty of bronze accents. Incorporate texture with organic table linens. Since you’ll be dining al fresco and want to evoke a relaxed ambiance, consider offering your meal buffet or family style.
Hosting a crowd? Liven up your Thanksgiving with a Western-inspired celebration. Ranch wear is encouraged (bring on the cowboy boots!), and a country band can help bring the theme to life. Use bales of hay and plenty of pumpkins for decor, and set up an outdoor bar. If you can pull off hosting this in a barn, even better.
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