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Tips For A Successful Holiday Gathering

Whether it’s your first time hosting Thanksgiving or you’re a seasoned vet, there is a lot of pressure to make your event flawless. From decorations and food to ensuring guests have a good time, hosting is certainly involved, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are some fun and useful tips to get you through your holiday party with grace and fun!


Hosting Decorations
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Nothing creates a more inviting and comfortable setting than decorations. When considering your décor, first consider your audience. Will your home be full of children and families, coworkers and friends, or all of the above? Or are you having clients over for a special treat this year? Whatever the demographic, make sure your decorations send the right message. Incorporate organic materials into your theme, such as gourds, corn stalks, and even bales of hay. It's said that smell ignites our fondest memories, so be sure to create a lasting impression by engaging your guests’ sensory palates with seasonal scented candles and oils. Embrace the colors of the season, contrasting dark and light tones to create a vibrant atmosphere. Burlap is trending this fall - it's cheap, rustic, and doesn't require sewing. Find a unique patterned burlap or paint one for yourself using black, yellow or red paint. Lighting is key to the feeling of a room, creating a sense of visibility and comfort. If it's too dark, guests will feel sleepy, and it won't just be because of all the turkey consumption.

Meal Timing and Planning

Hosting Cooking
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Avoid disastrous mishaps ahead of time by preparing not only your Thanksgiving meal, but also timing your day-of tasks to allow room for error and relaxation. There is always the potential for disaster during holiday gatherings, from unexpected guests to an uncooperative oven. Purchase a little extra meat and prepare side dishes for plus twos. This will allow you to feed unexpected visitors, or simply give everyone plenty for seconds. Prep non-essential food dishes a night or two before the big day, such as cooking pasta, dicing onions, and pre-making dessert crusts and custards. Be sure that when planning out your day-of cooking and preparation tasks, that you make room for leisure as well. Assign someone to the task of dishes or employ help along the way to free up more time for you to enjoy your holiday also. While hosting can sometimes be like a full time job, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. Consider your strengths and utilize them when mishaps occur, but remember to keep your cool and enjoy your holiday.


Hosting Wine
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Cocktails, brews, and luscious wine are holiday favorites so include them in your Thanksgiving repertoire this season. Herbal infusions are all the rage for cocktails this fall, and seasonal brews like pumpkin ales are great ways to compliment your holiday grub. Put an unexpected twist on a classic like a maple bourbon old fashion, made with pure maple syrup, bourbon and bitters. Be sure to use a pure maple syrup to ensure ultimate flavor infusion. Herbal liquors are great ways to mix up the drab usual wells, such as vodka and tonic. Make a homemade cello, with a seasonal fruit, simple syrup and grain liquor then allow two weeks for the flavors to infuse. You can even make kiddie-cocktails using fruit juice and sparkling cider so the kids don’t feel left out.

Things I’m Thankful for

Hosting Give Thanks
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As a table setting idea, include a card or slip of paper for guests to write one thing they are thankful for - keep it anonymous and read aloud to everyone before the meal starts. This will encourage positive conversation and create subject matter to engage new guests. Don’t forget the little ones. Whether they get their own table or they get to dine with rest of the guests, don’t leave out the kids. Butcher paper or brown wrapping paper are both great for tablecloths, allowing the children to draw on them without ruining permanent linens. The best part is they make cleanup easy as pie! Include fun facts for the kids to read and incorporate learning in an unsuspecting way. So while you’re getting to know your guests, the kids can be learning more about the holiday.  

Games/Team Building

Hosting Games
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Be sure to include some fun games at your holiday gathering for a non-traditional, fun-filled evening. Whether it’s a gathering at home or a company event games are a great way to engage guests and promote interaction. Board games, word games and even video games will get the group working together while having fun. Get creative with simple games like Camera, a hot-potato-like game in which everyone sits in a circle and passes around a camera with a timer posing for a “selfie.” The person holding the camera when the timer goes off gets their picture taken and sits out for the round. This simple game is sure to get the group laughing and having some fun. Games encourage group cooperation, creating strength among families, coworkers and new social groups.

Remember Thanksgiving is about relaxation and reflecting on the good things in life, starting with family and friends. Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

Michelle Perez is a freelance writer staying on the pulse of all that's new and exciting. Her work can be found on

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