10. Extra plasticware
You’re going to have more leftovers than you’ll know what to do with. Rather than risk having some of them go bad in your fridge, stock up on disposable plasticware from the grocery store and send your guests home with some food. You will still be able to keep enough for your family for turkey sandwiches on Friday. But this way, you won’t have an over-packed fridge, and you won’t be stealing forkfuls of pecan pie for the following week.
9. Holiday crafts for kids
Sitting for a long meal can be really hard for kids. Why not set out a little craft (or in the very least, some crayons and paper) wherever your tiny guests will be eating? It’s important to make sure all of your company is happy, including those under four feet tall. You can get some craft ideas here!
8. A lighter dessert option
Sometimes it can be difficult to stuff that pie à la mode in after a couple of plates of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and casserole. For those who want a sweet finish to the meal, but who can’t necessarily handle pumpkin cheesecake, put a little platter of fruit or chocolate mints on the table as an alternative.
7. A fun non-alcoholic drink option
For your guests who do not drink, or who don’t want to double-down on their chances of passing out after the huge meal, offering a fun mocktail is a nice way to include everyone in the festivities. People who opt not to drink should have a more elegant option than soda or water. Here are some fun ideas!
6. A vegetarian dish
Thanksgiving can be a fun opportunity to make things as unhealthy as possible. As a result, sausage, ham, or just about any other animal protein tends to find its way into every dish. Chances are you’ll know if one of your guests is vegetarian, but just in case you’re not up on everyone’s preferences (especially college students returning from campus), it is a nice gesture to offer a vegetarian dish.
5. Good music
It’s a festive gathering, after all, so why not let the music help! Growing up, my family took the opportunity to play Christmas music for the first time of the season during our Thanksgiving gatherings. While this works for some people, it doesn’t work for all. Take a moment to create a playlist, or to find a great Pandora station, that will play some music to set the mood. Maybe some light jazz? Or classical piano? It’s your party, and you can choose whatever floats your boat.
4. A new recipe
Instead of the same exact dishes that everyone eats every year, why not take this chance to show off your cooking skills and creativity, and introduce a dish that no one has had at your family’s Thanksgiving meal. Who knows? Maybe you’ll start a new tradition?
3. A traditional dish
While it is important to change it up, it is equally as important to keep one or two classics. If your cousin Tommy is coming to your house because he knows he’s going to get that sausage stuffing with a pound of butter, it’s probably best not to disappoint.
2. A killer centerpiece
Your table is where your guests will gather to eat together, give thanks, and have great conversation. But it should also be visually appealing. You don’t need to go all Martha Stewart on everyone, but a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a fun centerpiece will make everyone feel welcome.
1. Assigned seating
If you don’t do anything else, do this. As the host, you probably know whose personalities mesh well, and whose do not. You know who’s more conservative, and who is liberal. You know who can’t keep their mouth shut about having Botox, and who can’t stand hearing about said Botox. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and seat people where they’ll be most likely to behave throughout the meal.