The Thanksgiving meal may be one of my favorites of the year. Beyond the delicious food, having extended family members come home or fly in from afar makes the dinner table special. If you’re hosting the meal, it can take “some doing,” as we say in the South, to get that menu planned and the table set.
But gathering family and friends together for the main event shouldn’t feel like a hassle. In fact, some of my favorite ways to dress up the table are simple, but look seasonal and make the day feel festive.
Centerpieces: Easy and Au Natural
Don’t stress about elaborate centerpieces and flowers if that’s not your forté. Autumn makes it easy to use natural elements to decorate your dining room table, along with the card tables you may set up to accommodate a crowd. Arrange pumpkins and other colorful gourds atop trays, in decorative bowls, and on cake stands of varying heights along the middle of the dining table. Create smaller versions of those groupings on the smaller tables throughout the house for a cohesive look.
Even easier, ask kids and grandkids to gather acorns and pretty fall leaves from the yard and scatter them down the center of the table. Use wired ribbon like a table runner amid the foliage to bring the look together.
Personalized Place Settings: Making Every Guest Feel Valued
It’s always fun for guests and family to see place cards at their seats. This small, extra effort says, “You are important, and we couldn’t have this meal without you. Your place at the table makes our gathering complete.” Scour Pinterest for easy ideas, but some of my favorites are super simple.
Buy natural-looking gift tags — made of craft paper or backed with burlap — at a craft store. Use a gold pen to write names on the cards, and tie them around napkins placed atop each place setting. Tuck in a sprig of wheat or faux fall berries to complete the look.
Another option requires a few days’ notice but is just as easy. Spray paint mini pumpkins, about the size of apples, with various hues of gold, silver, and bronze. Tie each stem with pretty ribbon in autumn colors or a bit of twine for a more casual look. Write a guest name on each pumpkin with a permanent marker or on a tag that hangs from the stem.
Team Effort: Accepting a Little Outside Help
If you’re the host, offer to cook the turkey and host the day, but assign side dishes and desserts to lessen your work load. Heating up Sister Schubert’s® Parker House Style Rolls for the bread basket always helps make the menu a little easier, of course. Going from freezer to oven to table in minutes, these rolls can be a real time-saver on Turkey Day. Buy at least one more pan of rolls than you think you need — people always help themselves to “just one more” on a holiday!
Disconnecting to Connect
Now, I make the lunch or dinner table a smartphone-free zone any time of year, but it’s somehow easier at a special occasion like Thanksgiving. Delicious food on the buffet requires everyone’s attention. And passing the bread basket and butter requires two, non-texting hands!
Wouldn’t it be great to emulate that screen-free atmosphere all year round? Try these tricks:
-Encourage your family to charge their phones during dinnertime.
-Require reluctant teens — or spouses — to deposit phones in a basket in order to take their places at the dinner table.
There’s just no place for the distraction of screens at the table. That may sound a little old-fashioned, but I consider any time with family around the table almost sacred. The conversation. The connections. That’s what mealtime is about — not just at Thanksgiving, but any time of year.