Celebrate Thanksgiving without a Hitch

Thanksgiving is more than a long weekend set right when the leaves are shifting their colours, reminding us that summer is long gone. It’s about family, gratitude, and, of course, feasting.

If you’re hosting the holiday, we’re sure you’re already thinking about a menu, table decorations, and how many people you can fit around your table. To help you navigate entertaining territory (especially if it’s your first time), we came up with a few ideas below.

THE FEAST

Unless you’re hosting a vegetarian or vegan evening, your main dish will likely be turkey. Everyone has an opinion about the best way to cook this bird. Food & Wine has some delicious recipes – take your pick.

For vegetarians, Thanksgiving can be just as enjoyable without turkey. Cauliflower steaks, green bean casserole, stuffed butternut squash… the list of tasty dishes is endless. Even meat eaters will love eating vegetarian. Browse through the recipes at bon appétit or Epicurious. Most of these recipes make the perfect sides to a turkey feast.

Images: (above) Anderson & Grant, Celebrating Everyday Life, Johnny Miller (header) Rose & Ivy

THE TABLE

From table-runners to place mats to name cards, there are a lot of creative ways to present your meal. Think rich tones, natural accents, and maybe something a little unexpected.

Scroll through the images at Real Simple, Elle Décor, and Martha Stewart for some beautiful inspiration.

GRATITUTE

There is lots to be grateful for as each day passes. A home, a family, a smile shared with a stranger in the street. To celebrate life, have your guests share what they are grateful for. These thoughts can be written down anonymously, tossed in a bowl, and read around the table at random. Or every guest can directly share something personal out loud. Another way to spread the gratitude is to collect donations from your visiting family and friends to give to charity. Or invite someone new to dinner, someone who may not have a family to share dinner with. Leave each guest with a Thank You note or keepsake, expressing gratitude for coming over.

GENERAL TIPS TO HOST BY

  • Let your guests help – especially if they ask what they can do. You’ll have your hands full, and an extra set or two will be appreciated.
  • Prepare as much as you can before the big day. Cut vegetables, decorate your table, and plan the cooking schedule a day ahead.
  • Make a timeline – know when to put the turkey in the oven, how many burners will be occupied at once and with what, when the gravy should be made, etc.
  • Make sure you have enough plates, dishes, cutlery, and glasses to serve everyone at the table.
  • Have a bar set up before your guests arrive and delegate bartending to another family member. Keep it simple – red and/or white wine, beer, and something nice that’s non-alcoholic.
  • Enjoy yourself! Don’t stress out! It doesn’t have to be perfect! Odds are, your guests are happy to be there and won’t even notice if the gravy’s a little lumpy. Remember, gratitude.

Here’s a checklist to help you along.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at StreetSide!

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