How to host thanksgiving

this past sunday, my precious little apartment hosted its 3rd thanksgiving dinner! i know there are people out there that would rather be shot in the foot than host an event in their house; whether it's lack of space or the fear of people going thru your medicine cabinets BUT i really enjoy it. i blame it on the desire to always be needed and hosts are needed ALOT and i love it. it's the Monica Gellar in me. always the hostess. i've posted in the past my tables and decor and how i like to arrange my house for parties and this post aint no different! so here's my quick little run down of fun ways to get your house party-ready and how to make hosting a pretty easy and awesome gig!
anyone that's followed along this blog for a while knows that the thrift store is my second home and i'm not too keen on matching. so a table full of mismatched glasses and plates is totally my eye candy. some would disagree i'm sure, but they weren't invited so it doesn't matter. i've always decorated with the firm theory that there should always be something unique and fun for people to look at in your home. whether it's the small copper piggy bank placed randomly in the middle of your thanksgiving table setting or the White Castle restaurant water color that is hanging above your fireplace mantel. (both of which exist proudly in this apartment)  i like weird stuff and weird stuff is great during the holidays when there's a house full of people in every room. 
i bought my mint green plates from ikea in the "as is" section for about 25 cents each. the more artsy, pretty plates came out of either goodwill bins or they were begin thrown out by my friends that didn't want them anymore. that brightly colored plate above is from anthropologie and i'm pretty sure it has since been discontinued. a friend of mine was throwing them out 8 years ago and i'm still obsessed with them. the mason jars and wine glasses have been around for years, too. collections are key, you guys! 

try and arrange your table in a patternless pattern. does that make any sense? probably not. i just try and set it up to look effortlessly scattered. i don't want two matching plates next to each other. i arranged down the middle of my table PLANT/KNICK KNACK/CANDLE. all of my copper bowls and antlers and anything else that was weird and quirky made center stage on the table. you may recognize that brown paper down the middle of the table, too. i bought a huge roll of it 5 years ago and that paper has lasted me thru sooo many table runners, crafts, prettier than average scrap paper and and gift wrappings. my friends all pretty much know at this point if there's a gift wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, it's mine. whatever. they love it. 
it might not be everyones cup of tea, but i just love a big full table covered in stuff. like i said, i like my guests to have plenty to look at. now this year, we kinda messed up and forgot to grab a second table to make ours longer. we had a lot of guests and under estimated the space we would need. now, that's ok, that's what couches are for and no one minded. but make sure when you set up your table you leave plenty of wiggle room. you can't carve up your turkey without a little elbow space! 
light EVERY single candle you won. that's what they're there for! unless the smell is amazing and i just have to have it, i pretty much only buy white or cream colored candles. you can pick up partially used ones at the thrift store for pennies and they look great everywhere. soft lighting is the way to go when there's a party going on. also, when your house is full of yummy foods, there's no need to break out birthday cake scented candles. 
i went to trader joe's a few days before our thanksgiving and bought two of those Cinnamon Brooms have you heard of them? most of our grandma's probably had one or two when we were growing up and now they're coming back as really popular. now, i added a link up there so you could see them but don't buy it from there. that amazon user has it listed for like $8 and they're $3 at trader joes. so anyway, i bought two and hung one in the living room and one in the kitchen and they're amazing. maybe a little strong for thanksgiving since there's already 50 smells going on, but no one seemed to mind. plus, cinnamon just smells like warm, happy, holiday feelings- does it not? so yes, buy those. and light all of your candles. 
i like to do a buffet style at my thanksgivings. our dining room table is super narrow and long and the idea of people asking me to "pass the anything" throughout my entire meal would drive me nuts. also, i would rather fill the middle of my table with candles and pretty things. but that's your call! do whatcha like! but over here, i set up a food table and let people grab their plates and help themselves. this year, my roommate and i hosted a thanksgiving for both of our families and his girlfriend was able to make it, too.  aka we're talkin about 15 people… and it worked out perfectly because that's a hell of a lot of helping hands and everyone brings a dish. it's amazing. jon made a turkey that was pretty much all this house was responsible for. i will say though, one day, i want everyone to pick what dish they are bringing and then that's just your dish you bring forever. i have 4 thanksgivings to go to this year and i think a lot of the stress comes from people not knowing what to bring, doubling up on things accidentally or bringing something no one likes. wanna take one small stress out of the holidays? make a check list of staple holiday foods, everyone pick one,  and that's your food responsibility forever! 
also, just like the table filled with mix matched fun, i try and do the same thing with the food table. it's time to break out all of those cake stands that sit unused most of the year. all of those $3 thrifted cutting boards? yeah, bring those out too, WHY NOT?  also, before guests arrive with their hands full of casserole dishes, have all of your big serving spoons, knives and spatulas out on your table ready. the less people have to go thru your cabinets that you didn't have time to tidy up, the better. have everything out before people even ask. my mom is a whiz at this it's insane. like, jon was preparing the turkey and he couldn't find the salt and pepper shakers so i ran down to the gas station to grab new ones and right as i got home and walked in the door, my mom text me "hey we're gonna bring an extra salt and pepper shaker just in case. love you" I MEAN, HOW DOES SHE DO THAT?? love her. 
like i said, the candles. do you love the fireplace? haha. 
so to sum up:
mix match is fun! it's cheap, interesting and gives people a lot more to look at. thrift stores will become your best friends. 

light lots of warm candles. go easy on the scents. we aren't trying to give grandma a migraine at the dinner table. 

assign everyone a dish and keep it that way. people like low stress and structure. trust me.

clean your house, sure, but don't kill yourself. no one will notice if you dont shampoo your basement carpets or scrub all of your base boards. i learned after the first year of hosting that i didn't need to bring in a ladder and clean the tops of my ceiling fans. and neither do you. just make your place smell good and run a mop/vacuum over your floors. 

don't feel guilty when people ask you "ok we're on our way. can i bring anything else? do you need anything?" i used to feel like i was burdening people if i said yes. but everyone appreciates the host. you're the person opening up your home so trust me, they will not be offended if you say "yes! please stop for an extra bag of ice! thank you!" 

enjoy yourself! my favorite part of hosting anything is standing proudly in doorways and just looking out into my clean apartment filled with loved ones. everyone enjoying themselves, having separate conversations, eating and drinking and just enjoying their holiday. YOU made that happen. good job, hostess! 


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