When it comes to my favorite holiday of the year (otherwise known as Thanksgiving, otherwise known as The-Day-We-Get-To-Eat-Like-There’s-No-Tomorrow), I take no chances. I’ve got checklists, countdowns, I do stuffing practice runs, and my turkey’s brining three days out. But when it comes to making things really special, it’s often the little touches that count the most. Here are a few of my most-loved last-minute moves that always take the holiday to the next tryptophan-laced level.
1. When it comes to table centerpieces, forgo fresh flowers in favor of things that are a little more appropriate for the season and the occasion. I like to scatter ugly/cute gourds, mini pumpkins, decorative corn, and wheat around lots of glowing candles until the table looks like it’s overflowing with warmth and abundance.
2. Put on some music! Hopefully you’ve created a Thanksgiving playlist beforehand, but if you haven’t, just throw on some classics like Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald. Or you could go with something a little more fun like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors album. No one can resist Second Hand News.
3. Light candles all over your home. It’ll make for a cozy, comfy atmosphere.
4. Prepare your toast! At the end of the day, this holiday is all about remembering and acknowledging what you’re thankful for—so get yourself ready to toast to that eloquently (and briefly).
5. Let your guests know what’s coming to them by making fun DIY menus—write out all your courses on paper (colored construction paper is fine here) and create simple, thematic borders by gluing on wheatgrass or pinecones.
6. Pour out some cold bubbly to hand out to your guests as they arrive. Nothing makes people feel instantly comfortable more than having a flute of champagne in their hand.
7. Make sure you’re stocked up on to-go boxes and festive ribbons that you’ve already pre-cut to fit around each container. You’ll want to be able to send your guests home with little portions of their favorite dishes of the night. Quickly tie a ribbon around each person’s box, and you’ll be giving out a fun, delicious party favor instead of tired leftovers.
8. Lastly, don’t forget about the Morning-After-Breakfast. If you’re having a guest or two stay over to avoid a long drive home, make sure that you prep ahead of time. Buy seasonal fruits (apples and pears work well here), bread, some creamy Greek yogurt, and if you’re really in overachiever mode, make a batch of pancake batter the day before and stick it in the fridge for easy access the next morning.