Six months ago I got married, and this year my husband and I volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner with both our families. With the holiday only a couple weeks away, I reached out to Meg Roberts, our Home Design Director and hostess extraordinaire, for tips and advice for this first-timer.
Q: How many people come to your house for Thanksgiving?
A: We usually have 22 – 27 people, so it’s no small undertaking!
Q: How do you prepare for that many people?
A: I set the table the day before. I work full time, so I do a fair amount of the shopping the weekend before, and finish it up Wednesday morning first thing. (I take the day off Wednesday.)
Q: That is so smart to get the table out of the way the day before. What about day-of?
A: On the day of I am cooking with my friends and family. My fabulous husband, grown kids, extended family, friends, and a few “orphans” who are in New York without their families have all gathered early to hang out, play football and watch the parade. Even though I am most likely going crazy in the kitchen, it gives me such pleasure to see everyone together for the day.
Q: Thanksgiving at your house sounds amazing, no wonder you are the perennial host! Can you tell me about how you manage to fit everyone together for dinner, or do you split people up and have a kids table?
A: I have a buffet laid out in the dining room, and set the tables up in our sunporch. We are usually crammed in, but I always want to have everyone in the same room.
Q: You were even kind enough to give me a sneak preview of how you are thinking of setting your table this year. Can you tell me about what you did?
A: I have never gone with the traditional colors of wines, rusts, oranges and reds associated with Thanksgiving, but rather go with a palette of browns, sages, and ivory. This year, I am using Echo’s new Ishana grey table linens. They have inspired a whole new color story!
Q: What is your color story this year?
A: I have fallen in love with white pumpkins, and those weird bluish-grey gourds, so I decided to have a grey, bluish, yellow, orange and ivory table. Pumpkins and gourds are an easy way to create an interesting and abundant centerpiece. They can keep for a long time. You can cluster them down the middle of the table. You can also see I added in succulents because the colors were so perfect, and again, they can be bought any time during the fall. I added in low vases (using vintage glass biscuit jars) with some late-blooming hydrangeas from outside, and then some large pinecone shaped candles. I finished the look with nice silver candlesticks – it is very important to have candlelight.
Q: Do you have any other personal or unique touches you like to add to your Thanksgiving table?
A: I enjoy patterned plates, but for Thanksgiving, I use large white buffet plates – they are like a blank canvas waiting for the array of foods! Every year I like to do something special for the place setting. Last year it was a turkey feather on each plate. This year I was struck by the particularly spectacular fall foliage, so I started gathering leaves and pressing them. The colors match perfectly with the linens – pulling out the accents of yellow and spice. I will tuck one into each napkin ring, and center the napkin on the plate. If you want to add a special touch, take a metallic sharpie (gold or silver) and write names on to the leaves as place cards.
I love setting a beautiful table and serving delicious food, but the most important thing is spending the time together – so it doesn’t have to be perfect! Just make it warm, relaxed and inviting. And have fun!
Want some advice or have a question for Meg? Feel free to ask in the comments section below!
Meg Roberts is the Home Design Director at Echo.