Thanksgiving can be a joyful time with family and friends, or it can seem like you the host, have taken on too many responsibilities as the cook, server, and dishwasher. Whether having dinner with new in-laws, old friends, or close family members, there are certain tricks and tips that can make you look like a pro at hosting a thanksgiving feast.
Plan ahead. Make the turkey and side dishes in advance. Set a schedule and lay out exactly how much time you will need.
Accept help. If others offer to bring an item or come early to assist you, always welcome their kind gesture.
Set it pretty. Entertaining is the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops when it comes to your table setting. Use the china, crystal, and silver that you have. Place flowers, candles, and seasonal items down the center of the table to create ambiance. It is well worth the extra minutes and effort.
Shake up the seating arrangements. If possible, separate couples so that they are not sitting across from or next to each other. Seat people according to personality and interests.
Set the tone. Most guest will follow the host’s lead. Your mood is critical to set the tone of the dinner. Always remain positive and keep a smile on your face. Your attitude can put any guests at ease.
Get dressed and ready early. If you stayed up all night cooking and cleaning, never allow your guests to know you are tired or stressed. It is always best to plan ahead and make sure you are refreshed and ready for any small emergencies that may occur.
Steer the conversation. Stay away from conversations about sex, religion, or politics. These topics have been known to put a damper on the evening. Do your best to direct the conversations so that they don’t lead down a dangerous path.
Have your 10 questions ready to go. If you are acting as host, consider the opposing views of dinner guests. Plan a list of appropriate discussion points ahead of time. Stick to topics suitable and appropriate for all audiences. Pick 10 questions to get the conversation going – include the weather, pets, movies, books, travel and so on. Pay attention to local and national news so that you are well informed about things happening around you.
Make it a game. Between courses, if there is a lull in the conversation and guests get that glazed-over look, pull out a game such as Table Topics. Have guests draw a card and answer questions that are posed. Boredom be gone!
Stay neutral. Try not to take sides. Make your guests comfortable by listening to different points of view. The relationships between guests in your home are far more important than anyone being right or feeling superior.
Being a great host takes planning and patience. Good conversation is as important as good food, wine, and flowers to ensure that everyone will have a great time - including you, the host.