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Throwing a Thanksgiving Dinner for Friends

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Sometimes the unexpected happens that prevents friends from heading home for the holidays. It could be canceled flights, winter storms or just a lack of time and finances. If you and your group find yourselves without plans for the most delicious of holidays, a cozy get together amongst friends will make it feel like family, and remind you to be thankful for each other.

Planning a Thanksgiving party that is both elegant and casual is no easy task, but with a little forethought and some basic DIY skills, you’ll be impressing your guests with your decor and spread in no time. Just follow these easy tips for an amazing party.

Provide the main dish, but ask for some help. With family or close friends, asking everyone to bring a dish can be the easiest way to make sure all dietary needs and dishes are covered, without having to be in the kitchen all day or foot the bill. Each guest should be asked to bring something different to avoid repetition, like appetizers, drinks or dessert. If you feel uncomfortable asking your guests to help provide, be sure to keep things simple, so you’re not overwhelmed or in the red over a friendly dinner.

Decorate with style. While your food spread will be enough to make mouths water, thepresentation is just as important to add a touch of elegance. Clean, crisp tablecloths and a beautiful centerpiece will make your table look good enough for a magazine. Try making a DIY cornucopia that reminds everyone that this holiday is all about the bountiful harvest. Display your menu or a specialty cocktail with beautiful antique picture frames, so your guests know exactly what they are about to indulge in.

Display your favorite pictures of your guests. To make your home feel more like a family gathering, take some gold picture frames and change out the photos for your favorite prints of friends. This will make them feel like they are where they belong this holiday, even if it’s more of a family of friends than blood relatives.

Plan a game or two. Having some games on hand to entertain with before the main meal will help everyone to relax, and really get to know each other in a casual setting. The games can be more traditional like board games or charades, or you can take the extra step and plan a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt to keep everyone laughing until you are ready to sit down. Make sure to include easy to find items, and either keep it on the grounds or not too far outside. You don’t want your guests trying to finish their lists when it’s time to eat.

Clean as you go. No one likes to see the host scurrying around after the party to try and clean up the mess, so picking up a glass or plate here and there will keep things under control. Afterwards, do what you can and leave the rest for the next day. There’s no need to add extra stress to a successful dinner.