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Guest List, Menu & Décor: Tips for Hosting Your First Thanksgiving at Your New Home

One of the thrills of owning your own home is getting to play host to your family during the holidays. Follow these easy tips for hosting your first Thanksgiving with grace.

Guest List

The odds are when you make your guest list you will need to shave a few names off the list. As tempting as it is to invite everyone you know to show off your new home, the reality is there is only so much space at the dinner table and so much time for you to cook, serve and play host. 

Things to consider when making a guest list:

  • Time of the Party: If you have guests who have young children, chances are they would prefer an afternoon affair rather than an evening soiree. Keep this in mind when choosing who to invite.
  • Group Dynamics: Stick to a core group of family and friends that mesh well together. It’s okay for everyone to not know each other, but it is always nice to see a familiar face or two at a holiday celebration.
  • Number of Seats: Whether you want to do a formal sit-down meal or have a more laid-back meal where people eat where they can, will determine how many people you can invite while keeping your vision in mind. 

Multi-generational family in kitchen preparing a holiday dinner

Menu

There are plenty of options to choose from. For your first Thanksgiving, you may want to try your hand at the traditional menu of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy (lots of it!). If you’re not into cooking a whole bird, you could opt for a spread of festive appetizers. Think baked brie with a cranberry spread or turkey pinwheels. Or, why not host a potluck where you’ll get a wide variety of delicious dishes? If the food is tasty and served at a decent hour, most people won’t complain! Don’t forget to ask guests about allergies and dietary restrictions in advance of grocery shopping.

Tips for having a memorable Thanksgiving menu:

  • Have a Festive Cocktail – The holidays are a time for celebrating, and nothing says festive quite like a seasonally inspired cocktail! The Thanksgiving Cocktail is a classic choice; a refreshing blend of gin, dry vermouth, apricot brandy and lemon juice. If you prefer to stick to wine, a Pinot Noir or a Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with traditional Thanksgiving herbs. For beer, something on the hoppy side with a few spice notes should satisfy most guests.
  • Offer Appetizers – Most people come hungry to a party and most hosts, especially new ones, are running behind on when dinner will be served. By having finger foods available while finishing touches are being added to the dinner, your guests will keep “hangry” emotions at bay.
  • Splurge on Dessert – Now is not the time for low-fat! Offer a decadent dessert to cap off the meal to leave a delicious taste in people’s mouths (and minds). A traditional pumpkin or apple pie with vanilla ice cream is always a hit or try your hand at something new! As always, Pinterest has 1000’s of ideas for a memorable Thanksgiving dessert. 

Holiday feast with turkey

Décor

Although décor isn’t an absolute must, adding some decorative elements can really add to the ambiance of the meal. You don’t have to decorate your home top to bottom to set the mood for your autumnal feast. 

Décor that will get noticed:

  • A Festive Tablescape – Considering this is a dinner party, having a festive table will make an impact. If you want to keep it minimal, opt for a festive floral arrangement and some unscented candles. If you want to take it to the next level, check out these inspiring tablescapes
  • The Front Door – A wreath in fall colours along with a few pumpkins will create a welcoming entrance for guests. 
  • Comfort Accents – Add some throw blankets and pillows in seasonal colours to the living room. If you have a fireplace, turn it on to create a cozy atmosphere while guests enjoy cocktails and appetizers.

Fall dinner place setting with pumpkins and candles