As a recent college grad, I am just getting used to serving as a host. At Stanford, no one hosted dinner parties. Though I love entertaining, I am still learning a lot each time I host a brunch or dinner party.
Thanksgiving, in particular, is especially tricky. You want delicious food, a beautiful home and tablescape, plenty of time to get dressed before guests arrive, and a relaxing day with family.
Here are some of my tips and tricks that really helped me as I was planning Friendsgiving! I hope they help make your Thanksgiving Day run smoothly!
- Decide where your priorities lie. I realized early on that I didn’t want to spend all day cooking every single dish for Friendsgiving, so I delegated dishes and drinks to my friends. I got to focus on the three recipes I was particularly excited about–the turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin tart.
- Make what you can the day before. I made my cranberry sauce and pumpkin tart on Friday evening instead of rushing through them on Saturday.
- If you are asking guests to bring food, remember that you will need to reheat dishes before serving. While my friends and I were drinking champagne, the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and brussel sprouts were warming up in the oven.
- Have two bowls for sauces and sides. That way, your guests aren’t constantly passing cranberry sauce and gravy.
- For an easy and beautiful tablescape, cover your table with a white tablecloth, then use craft paper as a runner. It creates a rustic feel that is perfect for Thanksgiving and other fall fetes.
- Add color with napkins and flowers. I was able to find some great burgundy cloth napkins at World Market that brought in a fall feel to my table. Then, I used the burgundy as inspiration for my centerpiece!
- Know when to go to a professional. Theoretically, I could have made my own centerpiece with flowers from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Instead, I went to my new favorite flower shop, spent $20, and got a beautiful bouquet that looks 1000 times better than if I did it myself. Plus, it only took 10 minutes!
- Set the table in the morning. This will allow you to run the dishwasher again if you need more silverware, plates, glasses, etc.