Holiday Hosting 101

By Carmen Cristo

Photo via Alice and Lois

Due to a series of family homes being bought, sold and remodeled this year, Thanksgiving hosting duties have been assigned to the grandchild with the largest house and fewest number of children, which happens to be me. As if hosting a family holiday for the first time isn’t stressful enough, add a two month old into the mix and you have a truly impossible task; but, the torch has been passed from the matriarchs of my family and I intend to receive it. As with any event that will stretch my creativity, budget and time, I have turned to Pinterest for #inspo and a little help from the pros. I’m hoping to strike a balance between trendy and practical, between fine china and Chinet.

Check out my board here.

Image via Seven Layer Charlotte
Photo via Seven Layer Charlotte

Food – I think we can all agree that this is the most important piece of the puzzle. I think the key here is to be selective. The host cannot do it all (successfully) and the host with a newborn can do even less. I decided on potluck, but I wanted to elevate it a bit. I will be offering a cheese course prior to the buffet as well as three specialty cocktails to choose from. And, I got ambitious and volunteered to handle the turkey as sort of a rite of passage. Enter Martha Stewart (who else?) or in this case I like to think of her as my super cool grandmother who sends me detailed recipes and hangs out with Snoop Dogg.

Photo via Julie Blanner
Photo via Julie Blanner

Decor – Did I mention that I am on a TIGHT budget? My goal here is to find a few tablescapes on Pinterest for inspiration (check out my board at the link above) and then replicate them using things I have or can buy cheaply or reuse. I know I will have lots of fresh herbs lying around after I finish my cooking, so I will use those on the table, as well as pumpkins I still have lying around from Halloween. I will create height with candles and cake stands from other rooms in the house. To add color, I will use fresh fruits that will become snacks next week. For a runner, I will use craft paper that I will write each family member’s name on so that it doubles for place settings. Since I am not particularly excited about washing dishes all weekend, I’m opting for eco-friendly (and color-palette-matching) brown paper plates. I will use nice silverware and glasses and cloth napkins that can be thrown in the wash after the festivities. The final (and free) touch will be a few Thanksgiving-themed printables in different sizes in frames I already own.

Photo via
Photo via

Kids – If your family is anything like mine, you understand the need for planning activities for the children. While my two-month-old won’t be participating, my nephews will love to have something to do while the adults prepare dinner. I chose a couple edible activities like those on my board. It’s a win-win–there’s no waste afterward and the boys are doubly occupied, first with making the craft and then with eating it. No markers means no ruined furniture, and they feel like they contributed to the holiday feast.

That’s my fool-proof plan for hosting my first family holiday. Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest board for more budget-friendly ideas. Do you have holiday hosting tips or fun traditions? Tell us about them in the comments!


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