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thanksgiving holiday planner pdf

THANKSGIVING ENTERTAINING TIPS AND BUYING GUIDE

Professional Caterer’s Thanksgiving Entertaining Tips

Entertaining at home is something I look forward to, and truly cherish the time I spend with my guests and family.  That’s one of the reasons I take being a hostess so seriously. That, and having been a professional caterer for over three decades!

One thing that I learned from catering parties and events in people’s homes all those years is that all hostesses are not alike.  I realized that just giving you a list of “cookie-cutter” holiday entertaining tips wouldn’t really do the job.

I happen to obsess over details, but my best friend doesn’t.  She’s a “big picture” gal. Another friend will go out of her way with her menus, and can’t be bothered with more than a matching tablecloth and napkins.  But her food is always killer!

So, today I’m going to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving entertaining tips that will really help you plan your Thanksgiving Dinner.  My hope is to give every level of hostess some tips that can be used to make this holiday season a bit less stressful.

 

thanksgiving entertaining tips

WE’RE HEADING INTO THANKSGIVING “CENTRAL”!

Then, I’m going to share with you exactly what Home Entertaining Essentials you should consider having to be a great hostess with less stress.  I’ve even got a “Basic Home Entertaining Essentials” Printable to help you inventory and keep track of your own collection!

Lastly, I’ll be sharing some of the fabulous holiday home entertaining essentials I found to help make your Thanksgiving extra special.  Just consider them one more of my Thanksgiving Entertaining Tips!

 Click on any item’s image in the THANKSGIVING BUYING GUIDE to check out each of these fabulous finds.

Oops! I forgot to mention the invaluable THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY PLANNER printable that I created to help you plan your Thanksgiving celebration.  I’ll tell you all about it at the end of this post.

 

THANKSGIVING ENTERTAINING TIPS FOR A STRESS-FREE HOLIDAY

YOUR THANKSGIVING TABLESCAPE

  • For The Hostess In “Over-Drive” –

Start your tablescape planning early to ensure you have all the items you’ll need, including enough of everything for your number of guests.  Purchase or borrow what you’re lacking.

  • Do a “test run” for your Thanksgiving Dinner table by setting it completely, as it will be that day, sans anythanksgiving entertaining tips living greenery, flowers, etc. 
  • Take pictures of all the details so you’ll have a record of the final look you want to achieve.  The pics also allow another person to help with the set-up!
  • Deconstruct the table and store the needed items in bins in the garage, butler’s pantry or laundry room.  When it’s time to set your Thanksgiving table, you’ll have everything you need in one place, ready to roll!

 

  • For The Busy Hostess –

The Thanksgiving entertaining tip that’s almost universal is to start thinking about your Thanksgiving table early too. I know you’re a busy gal, so don’t hesitate to get a little “helping hand” to prepare for the holiday.

  • A few weeks before Thanksgiving, place the orders for your holiday centerpiece, dessert and anything else you want to bring in for your Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Take the linens to be cleaned and pressed in early November.  They’ll be ready and waiting for table setting day.
  • Take a quick peek into your china cabinet to make sure you have enough of everything for serving your guests.  Replace, purchase or borrow anything you still need.
  • When a friend asks if you’d like some help, say YES, and make a plan of action!   Having an extra set of hands will make setting your holiday table a snap!

 

  • The Organized Hostess –

thanksgiving holiday plannerAgain, there’s no getting around it, you really should start thinking about your Thanksgiving dinner table by the end of October.  This gives you plenty of time to inventory your home entertaining essentials and purchasing or borrowing anything you still might need.

I’m an organized gal, so I love checklists and “to-do” lists!  Using my THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY PLANNER is a must for a truly organized hostess. This is one of the most important Thanksgiving Entertaining tips I can give you this holiday season. Boy are you going to thank me on Black Friday!  Your holiday celebration will be smashing, I pinky promise.

Being an organized hostess means that you just might want to do a “test run” for your table like the hostess in “over-drive”.  The choice is yours, whatever your time and energy allows.  

Definitely plan on setting your Thanksgiving table on Wednesday to give you extra time for other tasks on turkey day though. 

 

thanksgiving dinner buffet tipes

BUFFET STYLE – FAMILY STYLE – OR A HYBRID PLAN?

How will you serve Thanksgiving Dinner to your guests and family this year?  Here’s a few more of my Thanksgiving Entertaining Tips.

I don’t have a set plan, as my guest list for Thanksgiving varies in size from year to year.  There are a number of factors to consider when deciding which way to serve your holiday meal.

Let’s go through each method individually:

BUFFET-STYLE DINNER SERVICE

Serving a holiday meal buffet-style is a lovely way to serve a large number of guests efficiently.  It also makes it easy for return trips to the buffet for seconds with no hassle for the hostess.

When catering events and parties professionally, we served hundreds of buffet-style meals.  One of the big advantages of this style of food service is the opportunity for a fabulous seasonal display as part of the buffet table.

Alternatively, serving your holiday meal from a buffet also lets you construct an “all-season-long” Fall display on your dining room table.  You won’t need the center for serving dishes, so why not do something special on your dining room table?

 

fall all-season-long tablescape display

SEASONAL THANKSGIVING DISPLAYS

I wrote a fabulous article giving you the entire scoop, from “soup to nuts” for creating an amazing long-term seasonal centerpiece.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE:  How to Create a Thanksgiving Table Display Worthy of Instagram!

Now, here’s a few ideas for your own Thanksgiving Buffet Table Display:

  • Try tumbling seasonal squash, pumpkins, apples, pomegranates and greenery from a cornucopia or baskets for a “living display”.
  • Use bundles of Indian corn, burlap and living branches of fall leaves for a rustic, but natural table décor.  The wonderful mixture of textures make a very pleasing assemblage.
  • “Shop” your home and seasonal décor for great buffet decorations to help give it a festive holiday feel.  Just using a few choice items tucked here and there can make a huge difference between “blah” and “beautiful”!
  • Don’t forget the power of color when choosing the buffet linens.  A seasonal print with a few solid-colored accents, like pumpkins and squash is fabulous.  Or, using a solid fall hued linen allows for the addition of lots of textures and colors from your buffet decorations.  Both buffets will turn out fabulous!

 

thanksgiving entertaining tips and buying guide

PRO CATERING TIPS FOR ASSEMBLING THE PERFECT HOLIDAY BUFFET TABLE:

  • Place the plates at the beginning of the buffet line so guests will have a free hand to serve themselves.
  • At the opposite side of the buffet, place the flatware and napkins for your guests to grab as they leave the buffet station. I like to wrap my flatware in the naps and add a festive ribbon!
  • For large crowds, consider creating a “two-sided” buffet that allows guests to form a line on both sides of the table.  Plating up two smaller platters or bowls of some of your dishes will let your guests serve themselves from either side. Open chafers of hot foods and entrees can be placed down the center so both lines can easily access them.
  • Place several extra serving utensils near the buffet to replace any absconded/dropped utensils throughout your meal.
  • Make a separate beverage station or bar for serving guests drinks throughout your celebration.
  • Ditto for desserts!  Plan to have a little time between dinner service and dessert/coffee.  You can have a small dessert and coffee station set up on the kitchen island or other accessible spot. 
  • AND, adding a selection of after-dinner-digestifs with the desserts is especially lovely after a hearty holiday meal.  Offer your guests a few choices like Aquavit, Brandy, Sambuca, Gallano or Benedictine. 

 

thanksgiving entertaining tips and buying guide

FAMILY-STYLE DINNER SERVICE  

While a “sit-down” dinner usually signals a more formal function in the catering world, its sibling, Family-Style dining is how most folks eat their dinner on a daily basis.

Family-Style dining is especially lovely when you have a smaller gathering planned or are lucky enough to have a fabulous harvest dining table for 14! 

  • Keep your tablescaping to a minimum in the center of the table, perhaps just a lovely bunch of flowers or Fall grasses.  Leave plenty of room for serving platters and bowls.
  • Place most of your decorative emphasis on the placesettings and linens.  This is where you’ll get the most “bang for your buck” and create a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner table.
  • Set up a “tableside” beverage station on your hutch or island to keep them off the table.  Once a bottle of wine is opened though, do keep it on the table for ease of refills without getting up.

 

OR DO A HYBRID OF BOTH STYLES!

This is actually my favorite way to serve a large meal that’s got lots of moving parts, like Thanksgiving Dinner!    Between the family favorites and new recipes I have to try, there are lots of serving vessels involved.  A hybrid plan is the perfect solution to my excessive cooking habits!

  • The Thanksgiving Dinner entrees like roasted turkey, goose or vegetarian lasagna should be placed on the dinner buffet.  
  • Place any accompanying relishes/condiments on the buffet also.  (NOT the gravy, some guests will put it on more than their turkey)
  • Breads/rolls/butter should also go on the buffet (half way through dinner you can pass a basket of bread around the table if you desire)
  • Don’t forget to give your buffet a little Fall flavor as we discussed in the buffet section above. 
  • Serve your side dishes and gravy on the Thanksgiving dinner table.
  • Have a few extra serving utensils at the ready for when the mashed potato spoon goes MIA!

 

Now it’s time to talk about exactly what you’ll need to pull off this fabulously planned Thanksgiving Dinner! 

 

LIFESTYLE DIVA HOME ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS 

home entertaining essentials

As any good hostess knows, having the right basic home entertaining essentials can make your home entertaining stress and hassle-free.

If you want to figure out just what the status of your Home Entertaining Essentials collection is, I can help!

I’ve created a set of three printables to help keep track of what you’ve already got and figure out what you still need.

 

HOME ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS PDF

My 5-PAGE Basic Home Entertaining Essentials List will give you a clear idea of what kind of collection you’re working towards completing.

I’ve grouped the items needed to flesh out a basic home entertaining essentials capsule to help give you a plan of action as you look towards your future purchases and acquisitions.  

Now that you know what your Basic Home Entertaining Essentials Capsule should ultimately contain, it’s the perfect time to get started on the right foot.

 

home entertaining basics

HOME ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS INVENTORY CHECKLIST

The next Lifestyle Diva Printable is the Home Entertaining Essentials Inventory Checklist. It’s designed to help you take inventory and keep track of exactly what entertaining pieces you already own. 

Then you’ll add each of your new acquisitions, be they purchased new, or acquired by alternative methods! 

I find it really empowering to be able to see what pieces I have available to use for all my home entertaining in one place.

 

TABLE LINEN AND NAPKIN INVENTORY CHECKLIST

 Lastly, I think it’s absolutely necessary to know exactly what linens, napkins, table runners, etc. you’ve got stashed around the house. 

I know I’d be lost without my Table Linen and Napkin Inventory Checklist!  

Since I keep it in my Home Entertaining & Household Binder, it’s easily added to whenever I make a new purchase.

It certainly makes the holidays and all my home entertaining  a real snap to plan!

CLICK HERE TO READ AND ARTICLE AND GET YOUR OWN COPY OF THE HOME ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS PRINTABLES:   HOSTESS HOME ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS

 

Now let’s jump into the window-shopping portion of this article and see what fabulous Thanksgiving Entertaining Essentials I’ve rounded up for you this season!

We’ll be starting with some of the  “basic essentials” that are included in my Lifestyle Diva Hostess Home Entertaining Essentials and move on to more seasonal essentials from there.  Let’s get started!  

 

ENTERTAINING BASICS FOR THE HOME HOSTESS

 

SEASONAL DISHES AND SERVEWARE

 

TABLE LINENS AND RUNNERS

 

YOU’VE GOT TO SEE FRONTGATE’S NEWEST FALL COLLECTION

When I stumbled upon Frontgate’s new PUMPKIN CERAMIC SERVEWARE COLLECTION I fell in love.  I’m a sucker for ceramic pumpkins and squash, as evidenced on my Thanksgiving seasonal table image shown above.

Frontgate put together a lovely collection that can be used together or separately all season long. Personally, I’ve got my eye on the large serving bowl and grey pumpkin platter, they’re so unique.

Let’s check out the collection!

PUMPKIN CERAMIC SERVEWARE COLLECTION – Frontgate

 

DECORATIVE FALL HOME DECOR

 

TWO AMAZING FALL COLLECTIONS FROM TERRAIN 

Have you heard of Terrain.com yet?  I found their amazing company last year researching another article and absolutely fell in love with their merchandise.  I’ve been a loyal customer ever since.  

And this year they didn’t disappoint.  They are offering a huge array of fabulous Fall items, including their Teak and Botanical Fall Collections.

I hope you love them as much as I do.   Just click on an item and you’ll go right to their amazing website.  Enjoy!

 

TEAK SERVEWARE COLLECTION  – Terrain.com

 

 

BOTANICAL FALL SERVEWARE COLLECTION – Terrain.com

 

I promised to tell you all about the printable THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY PLANNER earlier , so let’s dive in!

 

2021 THANKSGIVING  HOLIDAY PLANNER

2021 Thanksgiving Holiday Planner PDF pages

It’s my standard practice when organizing a catered affair, to have a menu planner, prep schedule, prep list and grocery list

  • November Holiday Baking Prep Schedule Calendar
  • November Baking Grocery List
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Daily Prep Schedule Calendar
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Planner
  • Master Thanksgiving Grocery List
  • Day-Before Thanksgiving Prep Checklist
  • Thanksgiving Day Prep Checklist
  • Thanksgiving Master To-Do List

 

You’ll have everything you need to plan and celebrate a fabulous Thanksgiving with the 2021 Holiday Season Planner.  Use the November Holiday Baking Prep Schedule to start making and freezing your Christmas cookies and Thanksgiving pies. corn husk fall mantel garland

From there it’s breeze if you use all the pages to plan and organize your Thanksgiving celebration.

RELATED RESOURCES:

Thanksgiving Dinner Preparation Essentials

Corn Husk Fall Mantel Garland

Fabulous Front Porch Fall Decor Ideas

 

DO YOU FEEL A LITTLE MORE READY FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON?

I hope you feel more prepared to meet the holiday season head-on with all the valuable Thanksgiving Entertaining tips I shared here today. 

Being a professional caterer allowed me to hone my entertaining skills and I’m thrilled to be able to share that expertise with my readers and IFAFL community.   

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links or images and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission.

 

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Why not join in on the fun!2021 thanksgiving holiday planner pdf

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