Are you hosting Thanksgiving? Here is a quick checklist of last-minute details to do before your guests walk in the door to make it the most hospitable entrance ever!
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for so many reasons, but mainly because it is truly a holiday that everyone celebrates. The purpose is to practice gratitude, which we more of in this world, and it rings in Christmas, my second favorite holiday.
If you have the honor of hosting, I have a simple checklist of things you can do to make your home truly the "gathering place" that everyone wants to come back to year after year. Please take it as a compliment!
Think about the time of day and plan accordingly.
Primarily around food and drinks! Yes, you're all going to eat a huge meal, but have a couple of snacks ready, even if it's just a dish of little nibbles. As for drinks, know your audience. Are they drinking wine, liquor, microbrews, or not at all? I LOVE to have a festive drink and, ideally, one that can be served with or without alcohol. For example, at Thanksgiving, serve club soda with a splash of cranberry over ice, and for those who prefer to add vodka, perfect. Be inclusive of children and substitute 7-Up for the soda. Add a fun little turkey straw to make it even more special!
What can the kids do?
Speaking of kids, what are they going to do all day/night? Get out a fun puzzle and put it on a card table. Someone will end up there and enjoy themselves, I promise…not everyone watches football and it's an amazing way of bringing the old and young together. Grab a couple of crafts from the craft store. Is it too early for gingerbread houses? I love Eileen's Cookies "decorate your own kits" with plain sugar cookies and frosting. Pick up a few sprinkles and it's multi-purpose for all - the kids keep busy, enjoy eating cookies and everyone gets an alternative to pie!
Day/time & dress code - communicate expectations
We're going to back up just a touch…Make sure everyone knows who is coming, what time to arrive, and if there is a dress code. I know the dress code mention might sound a bit stiff, but God knows if there is anything I've learned from corporate America for 20 years, is that you have to tell people what you expect. If you don't care, great, but if you're going to complain for the next week that Tyler showed up in his workout clothes and you didn't communicate your expectations, then that's on you.
Take time to clean up the outside
Your front entry means more than you think - inside and out. Spend a few minutes and use your blower to make sure your porch is free from debris. Knock down old spider webs. Grab the Windex and clean the glass on your storm door and side window.
Add simple seasonal decor to your front porch.
Remove the dead summer plants from your planter if you haven't done so already, add some burlap and a couple of pumpkins. We, of course, have another idea for this as well…do you still need to order an Entry Envy sign? Christmas kits shipped today and they are SO CUTE!
Make sure all of your outdoor lights are working and on.
Even if you're having lunch, it will likely be dark as guests are leaving.
MUSIC! My favorite hospitality trick is to put a small Bluetooth speaker in an outdoor planter with music. Think about how much more fun it is to go into a retail store playing music outside. Your guests will be so excited to come inside! Make sure the music carries over indoors, it just has a wonderful way of "filling space," especially when the first guests arrive. Think about the vibe of the music and what you want your home to "feel" like. It will change as the event goes on, so don't be afraid to change the playlist. Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon music make this so easy. "Hey Alexa play…"
Leave the front door open
While making a great first impression and greeting guests starts in the driveway, it certainly doesn't stop once they walk through your front door. Leave your front door open if you have a storm door. Put your foyer light on a dimmer switch if it's not already. When it is already getting dark outside so early, there is nothing harsher than walking into someone's home from the dark and having to wait for your eyes to adjust because it's so bright when you walk in. Or maybe I'm just getting old!
Have a candle or diffuser near your entry
Try a cinnamon or pumpkin spice scent. It's instant warmth. Speaking of warmth, if you are having a bunch of people over, knock the heat down a few degrees and conversely, if you are only having a few, pay attention to your guests' body language. Do the ladies in cute sleeveless shirts have goosebumps? Perhaps turn up the heat if so!
Prep the powder bath.
Light a scented candle in the powder bath. It's incredible what it does for ambiance. Have an extra hand towel or two ready. Put spare toilet paper in the bathroom. Have a room freshener or Poopouri visible. Make sure the tissues are full.
When your guests walk in the door, show them to the coat closet or designated spot for coats/purses.
Guide them to the drink station.
Let people help themselves. Have cute Thanksgiving cocktail napkins, your festive drink of choice, a bottle of white & red open. No one wants to impose (or feel like a lush) and be the first to open a bottle of wine.
Seriously, no one cares if everything isn't 100% ready when they walk in the door. In fact, giving your guests a task or two can actually make them feel included and even more welcome. Everyone will be glad to help if you're set the tone of the "gathering place," have a drink in their hand, and the music is on!