If you’re the lucky one to host Thanksgiving over this uniquely American holiday, start with your own thankfulness. Consider it a delight to serve family and friends who may come from next door or across the country. With a little planning for all ages, the day can run smoothly, fill the air with love and laughter and tummies with yummy food and drink.
Under 12 – This crowd of kiddies might need space for playpens, portable baby beds and play spaces, indoors and out. Plan ahead with balls and games, nap places, kids’ table for dinner, highchairs, puzzles, activities and entertainment. Hire older kids with the going babysitting rate to spend an hour or two organizing and supervising games.
Teens – These guys and gals may not even want to be there, so give special attention to involving them in some tasks of the day: bringing in firewood, keeping the woodstove or fireplace going, setting their own table, lighting candles, refilling snack bowls, organizing a soda drink station. Set up a teen spot with age appropriate magazines, puzzle space, board games, decks of cards where adults can drift through and chat. Suggest they take random photos to document the day, greet people at the door and offer to take their coat to a designated place.
Young Professionals and Families – Have short to-do lists handy for those you know are worker bees and enjoy being in the kitchen. Let the others mingle and connect in conversation with folks they may not have seen for a long time. Show them where babies and toddlers can play and nap.
Medical concerns – Set aside refrigerator space if you know someone carries medicine. Place chairs in appropriate sizes in places that face the action with end tables nearby for those who cannot stand a very long time. Move your couch if you have to so the furniture is open and all-inclusive.
Fresh flowers – Brilliant fresh blossoms from Mother Nature and bloomstoday.com brighten any room, any table, any corner. Place a small bouquet on the foyer table, in the powder room, on the teens’ table (why not?). Ask an early arrival to make little arrangements, then place one at every place setting with place cards resting against them if you assign seats.
Seating arrangements – To mix up dinner conversation, have everyone draw a table seat on a slip of paper from a basket. This can be very interesting and pair up people who might discover lots of common ground.
Things handy to spur some fun and conversation:
- football and other balls if outdoors is nice
- jigsaw puzzles in different sizes
- decks of cards and card games
- board games
- campfire style games
- clippers to add twigs and dried grass to flowers
- football TV schedule
- menu so special diet folks know what’s coming
- age appropriate library books
- plastic utensils and measuring cups for toys
- Tinker Toys and building blocks.
By Joanne M. Anderson