Ummm…. How to “enjoy” Thanksgiving!? Yes! If you’ve ever hosted this holiday at your home…. you know what I’m talking about. We, at LeaderOne Financial, have the pleasure of helping many first time homebuyers purchase their first homes. Often, along with this rite of passage, comes the “honor” of hosting a major holiday gathering in your home. Also, for those who we’ve helped upgrade to their bigger dream homes, get ready to become the new hot spot for family gatherings! I’d like to offer this advice to those who have risen to the challenge of playing host:

Set the table the night before

I mean EVERYTHING! You can even place the empty serving dishes to strategically plan where everything will go when it’s time for the real deal. If you have children, give them the task of makingImage result for thanksgiving table decor place cards. 2 things will be accomplished here; the kids will be occupied for a couple of hours AND you can avoid seating crazy cousin Eddie who still talks about his crazy college partying days next to Uncle Joseph who is a pastor at a local church.

A super easy centerpiece that can also occupy the kiddos:
Have the kids gather dry twigs from the yard. Have an adult gather vases and mason jars and cut the twigs to set in the containers. Fill the containers with fresh cranberries or cherries (whatever’s on sale) and place the twigs in the jar. Line the jars down the center of the table(s). You can run string of battery operated lights down the center of the table as well or place candles between every 2nd or 3rd jar. HINT: Don’t use scented candles. You don’t want to lose that amazing Thanksgiving dinner smell!

Don’t experiment with new recipes

Thanksgiving is all about the classics and traditional family recipes; so just stick with the standards. You may even have the recipe cards hand with pens and index cards so guests can jot down the recipes they absolutely loved.  New Year’s Eve is a great time to try out new dishes and appetizers. At a certain time of the evening, many guests won’t even remember how bad the burnt salmon puffs were 😉

sangriaHave a cocktail (or wine) ready to go

Have wine/beer chilling in the fridge or a pitcher of sangria ready to be poured. If everyone has a drink in their hand, they won’t care if dinner is served an hour later than you planned. Here is a recipe for Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria. Perfect for fall! Say yes when guests offer to bring a bottle of wine. If you don’t use it all, you can always add it to your bar stock for Christmas!

Don’t make a big deal over appetizers

Thanksgiving is a huge meal so don’t stress over appetizers. This is a great item to suggest to someone who asks “what can I bring?”.

It’s fine to buy some of the items for your meal

EVERYONE does it! Don’t let them fool ya! If you don’t want them to know, put these items in their serving dishes the night before, cover and refrigerate.  Make sure the trash gets taken out with the evidence before guests arrive. An item I’ve tried that’s as good as from scratch are the Bob Evan’s mashed potatoes. They are in the refrigerated section. You’re welcome.

Never turn down help!

It’s not a sign of weakness! Accept your guests’ offers of help. They take joy in knowing they are lending the hostess with the mostest a hand. If you are dealing with a bunch of lazy duds, assign a task to them (unless they plan on leaving you a fat tip)

Don’t forget to allow time to get ready

This may seem like a given, but sometimes we lose track of time and don’t allow enough time to get cleaned up for the big feast. Someone else can supervise the kiddos for a bit while you transform from chef to host.

Soak it in

Remember; people are there to gather with you and one another, not to be entertained. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Listen to the stories and tall tales, laugh a lot, and make new memories with the ones you love. We can all find special moments in the midst of a busy, messy, loud, and delicious holiday.

~Carrie Gibbs-Hair