So, You Decided to Host Thanksgiving Dinner...

The baton has been passed on to you. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is an honor, an honor that carries a unique pressure along with it. The question isn’t what do you need for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s what do you need to do to host it? Preparation and presentation are key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner, and we are here to help.

Before you start writing out your grocery list or inviting your guests, take a moment and decipher what type of Thanksgiving dinner you are looking to host. Will family be involved or is it a Friendsgiving celebration? Are there any dietary needs that need to be considered when prepping the menu? In order to host a Thanksgiving dinner that goes off without a hitch, it is essential that you prepare ahead of time.

Preparation is Key.

Food isn’t everything when it comes to Thanksgiving. Ok, maybe it is, but there is more to consider when getting ready for guests. For the fall-loving hosts, holiday décor is everything. No party, event or holiday is finished without the proper decor.

Both Thanksgiving décor and other essentials are best planned out early. Interactive holiday décor such as a message board is an ideal statement piece that you will be able to cherish for years to come. This becomes especially meaningful for first-time Thanksgiving hosts. All you need is a corkboard, cutouts of fall-themed scrap paper and pins to put them on. If you want to personalize the message board, even more, request for guests to bring in photos of memories from the year that they are thankful for. Later that evening, share those experiences and memories with each other.

Avoid the awkward silence of going around the table on a whim to see what your guests are thankful for. “I am thankful for” placemats give your guests time to think and keep them occupied while the food is being served. They can be placed at the table, with the guest’s name, to also play the part of placeholders. Start the design with brown craft paper and make space for the guest to write a list of what they are thankful for. This simple detail will help keep the conversation going at dinner.

Natural displays of Thanksgiving décor are options that can be planned out ahead of time. Our local florists at Oakbrook Florist in Palo Alto, CA hand-design flower arrangements to fit your style and feel of your Thanksgiving dinner. Along with tying in your décor, our tasteful holiday flower arrangements help tie in the look and feel of both the holiday and the season.

As you are preparing your décor and menu, be sure to talk with us, so we can ensure your Thanksgiving flower arrangement, floral centerpiece or floral wreath is exactly what you want. If you have vases that you want incorporated as the base of your flower arrangements, be sure to talk with us about different pricing. Having flower arrangements designed to fit your holiday decor gives you one less thing to worry about when it comes to prep. Plus, we deliver, so you’ll have enough time for food prep.

Start Cooking Early.

What do you need for Thanksgiving dinner? The answer you’ll get will change depending on who gives it. Lists are always useful. Odds are, your list is going to vary somewhat from your grandma's list, and that is ok. With different guests, there are different dietary needs thus, different menus.

In order to ensure you have everything that you need for Thanksgiving, it is best to food prep and start cooking early. Yes, most things are better fresh. However, there are some dishes that are easy to prep, so they can be tossed in the oven last minute.

Your sweet potato and green bean casseroles can be put together the night before and go in the oven before guests arrive. Along with these iconic dishes are stuffing/dressing, cranberry sauce, rolls, pies and your signature cocktail for the night. Apple and cinnamon fused bourbon may do just the trick.

If you have done all the prepping you can do and are still running short on time, take a second look over your list to see where you can make things a little easier for yourself.

Store-Bought Food is Fine.

Contrary to popular belief, everything at Thanksgiving dinner doesn't have to be homemade. Start with deserts. Pies, cookies and cakes can be picked up from the store on the whim. Pre-tossed salad kits make for quick and easy side dishes or entrees for those with specific dietary needs or requests.

For those looking for entrees that are simple and can be thrown together in minutes, consider chips and dip and veggie/fruit trays, along with finger foods. Miniature quiches make for another tasty and easy store-bought dish.

Make your life easier when you are hosting Thanksgiving this year. There is no shame in paper plates, plastic cups and silverware. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner poses enough of a challenge. If you can eliminate some of the cleanup, why shouldn’t you? Spend a little extra time on the place settings and let us cover your holiday centerpieces. When it is all done and the food is served, no one will care about the plastic or paper dishware.

Take Help when it is Offered.

There is no shame in accepting help setting up, cleaning up or assisting with Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, you’ll be glad you did. Cooking, cleaning and setting up for a large crowd is a big task. Take help where you can get it.

There are several easy but tedious tasks that can be delegated for Thanksgiving prep. Have a trusted friend, with good taste in music, make the playlist, and be sure to consider your guests. You don’t want a questionable song playing when grandma arrives, so you may want to figure out your guest list in advance.

If you have a creative friend, put them in charge of invites. If you have already put your creative mind to the test and designed them yourself, let that friend put the invites in envelopes and send them out for you. Take it a step further and have them help with the setup of décor too.

There are so many people eager and ready to help with Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is where many traditions and memories are started and made. Plus, grandma will want to bring her homemade cranberry sauce. Let her, along with any other guest willing to bring a dish. You’ll thank us later.

If you have one specific guest that you want to show gratitude, thank them with something beautiful and festive. Talk to us about thanking them with flowers. Maybe you want to acknowledge the reigning Thanksgiving host that just passed the torch on to you. Thanksgiving is the time for gratitude, recognition and appreciation.

Make it Feel like Home.

You are the Thanksgiving host. For first-time hosts, everything is new. It is rather overwhelming, and the tasks keep piling up. You may even be frazzled to the point of wanting to quit. Don’t quit. These tips are here to help set the tone for a relaxing Thanksgiving at home.

There are plenty of simple accents that can be added to your home and holiday décor when getting ready for guests this Thanksgiving. These accents can really make your place feel like home. One of those key features in warming a home for Thanksgiving (both figuratively and literally) is with candles. Fall scents get people into the spirit of the holiday; clean scents offer a fresh mood and unscented candles add ambiance and character.

Make warm blankets and throw pillars readily available to guests while they lounge in the living room after Thanksgiving dinner. They look and feel homey and ensure that everyone feels comfortable. Add in a selection of hot cocoa and cider at the kitchen bar for a relaxing after dinner refresher. When your guests are cozy, they will feel more at home.

Among the most warm and welcoming Thanksgiving accents is a festive flower display. Let the holiday flower arrangements you choose help tie the décor, food and feel of the holiday together. Chilly weather, warm thoughts and good food are much of what encompasses Thanksgiving, but that is not the sole foundation of the holiday.

The sole foundation in which Thanksgiving is based is on gratitude. If you are looking for Thanksgiving hosting ideas because this is your first-time hosting, take comfort in the fact that all that really matters is that gratitude is celebrated. Your key points of focus should be on gratitude, on food, on fellowship and on sharing warm thoughts. If you can accomplish that, you have cracked the code for how-to host Thanksgiving dinner.

Best wishes for a happy holiday and happy hosting!

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