Have you ever gotten past a “big” holiday only to realize that you missed it? Oh, you celebrated with the food, the decorations and the flare, but you got so caught up in all the trappings that you didn’t really celebrate the true holiday. I think we’ve all been there a time or two (or twenty)!
In order to help us not regret “missing Thanksgiving,” I think it’s important to do some thinking and planning NOW to ensure that the holiday will be celebrated in a way that is a blessing to all who gather because we focused on what was really, truly important. That would not mean the lumpy gravy, the squashed rolls or the dry turkey, but on giving thanks. It’s just so easy to sit down to a bountiful table, everyone starving and ready to dive in, have the blessing for the meal, finish with dessert and football and totally overlook stopping for worship and givng of thanks to our great God for ALL His blessings.
Let me make a couple suggestions to help you plan for this time – no matter the size of the group that gathers.
If you’re married, talk to your husband about how you could incorporate a time of giving thanks into your day. Ask for his input and depend on him to help implement this (if possible).
Consider the food. If the meal is hot and on the table, the time of the blessing might not be the best time to also go around and have everyone share the things for which they’re thankful. That’s spoken from the hostess side who wants the food to be hot! Perhaps during the meal or afterwards would be better.
Let everyone that’s coming know that they need to be thinking about the blessings they could share. Being prepared is helpful for everyone.
Reading a portion of Scripture after dinner would be a great tradition. Psalm 34, 44:4-8, 92, 95, 100, 111, or 138 would all be good choices.
Sing a hymn together. If your family isn’t musical, use Alexa to play it and join in singing!
Spend time praying for one another.
My family has had what we call “Puff Moments” for many years on Thanksgiving Day. We gather in the living room after supper and share our blessings from the past year. There are inevitably many tears shed as we rehearse the ways God has answered prayer or helped in trials. The Puffs get passed around the room! What a sweet time it always is.
Plan ahead and prepare your own heart and that of your guests so you won’t miss out on giving thanks this Thanksgiving.
Share one blessing from this past year. I have my Puff ready!
I love to have guests in our home and my guest book is reflective of that, but I also know that it takes a lot of planning, work and preparation. It’s my desire today to complete the list I started earlier this week and give you some tips about how you can have guests in your home this holiday season and do it with joy, rather than fear or dread.
Reason #5 why we dread hosting is that we don’t feel like our home is good enough or big enough. I can remember days when we lived in our ranch style home and didn’t have a big enough kitchen to host my whole family – I believe we had 14! What to do? We set up tables in our humble basement. It certainly wasn’t fancy, but we managed! I even had to use the church oven because at the time, my oven was so small the turkey didn’t fit inside! But all that isn’t what I remember! I remember that we had so much fun! At the end of the day we all piled into our church van and went to Bristol Speedway to see the Christmas lights! I think if we don’t make a big deal about being squashed together, our guests won’t either. If you don’t feel your house is “nice” enough, do what you can to make it fit for company – ~Clean the spaces you’ll be using. Make the bathroom shine. Unclutter all counters. Dust. Vacuum. Sweep off the front porch. Make sure the kitchen sink and stove are clean and ready for use. ~Don’t apologize for your house! If you start pointing out all its flaws and problems, you’re not going to make your guests feel welcome. Use what you have, make the most of it and be thankful. It’s God’s provision for you. Use it for His glory. ~Focus on your time together – not on the beauty (or lack thereof) of your home. Turn on a playlist of instrumental music for background beauty. Light the candles. Set the tables and turn your interest to your guests. That’s what they’ll remember.
Reason #6 why we fear hosting is not knowing what to do before or during the meal. Perhaps you fear “small talk” and not knowing what to say. Those gaps in conversation can feel awkward. Or if little ones are tearing through the house you feel your blood pressure rising. ~Planning ahead for children is your best option. Have a little box of things they can play with in a secluded spot. If it’s a pretty day, offer outdoor activities – balls or jump ropes to play with. If they’re older, you could set out coloring books, board games or puzzles. ~Share blessings. Why not plan on going around the table or the room and having everyone share three things for which they’re the most thankful? Again, focus on your guests instead of worrying you won’t know what to say. Ask them questions about their lives – “How did you spend Thanksgiving when you were a child?” “What family traditions did you family do on the holidays?” “What you favorite memory of Thanksgiving?”
Reason #7 – Fearing how to keep everyone entertained. ~Plan for some board games or group games for the time your guests hang around after the meal. Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese Pizza is a hilarious game that will loosen everyone up!
~Maybe everyone could work on a huge puzzle together. Set it up on a game table and let guests work on it throughout the day. ~Have a simple craft the children can work on. There are so many ideas on Pinterest! ~While the guys watch the football game, have the ladies work on crafting a simple Christmas ornament together. ~Don’t miss the opportunity to turn everyone’s hearts upwards to the Lord. Read Psalm 100 together. Stop and give thanks in prayer to the Giver of every good gift! Perhaps you could also sing a song together. Dear friends of ours always close our fellowship at their table by singing while our host plays the guitar. What a blessing that time always is!
I pray that these suggestions have been helpful. If you have other needs or questions, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me using the address on my contact information page.
Here is a detailed post about how you can be a gracious guest, and also tips on hosting. You’ll find hostess gift ideas that will be a small way to say, “Thanks for inviting us!”
Hosting for the holidays can be associated with anxiety. There can be many reasons for that. See if any of these resonate with you…
Fear of a food failure
Little time to prepare
Feeling like your home isn’t good enough or big enough
Not knowing what to do before or during the meal
Wondering how to keep everyone entertained
I’d like to try to address some of these topics today and we’ll finish the rest later this week.
Tight finances – The meal doesn’t have to break the bank. Decide what parts of the meal are important to your family. Is it the turkey? Then get a good sized, good quality bird and add a couple of essential sides like mashed potatoes, Green Bean Casserole and some rolls. Enlist your guests to bring a dish to help. Get someone to bring a pie and Cool Whip and someone else to bring a relish tray.
Stressful company – Sometimes the people that come are related and might be difficult to deal with. Pray about your attitude. If our heart is right, our responses will follow. Ask the Lord to give you His love for your guests. Don’t have expectations about what they should be to you. Only desire to be a blessing to them. It’s just a day – you don’t have to invite them to move in.
Fear of food failure – Watch a You Tube video by Barefoot Contessa or another Food Network chef you love and watch them roast a turkey, bake a pie or make that great side dish. It’s like having an assistant in your kitchen with you. If you can try to make the dish ahead of time as a trial run, you’ll know what needs to be improved. Little things like setting a timer when you put the rolls in the oven, or putting reminders on your phone to thaw the turkey or put the casserole in the oven can help you avoid big mess-ups! My best tip is make dessert delicious!That’s the last thing everyone eats and that’s what they’ll remember! If you need to buy a Pumpkin Pie at Sam’s Club, do it, then whip up your own whipping cream and sprinkle the top with Pumpkin Pie Spice to make it beautiful!
Little time to prepare – I think we’re all nodding our heads on this one! The best thing to do is PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME as much as you can. If you saw my recent post, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of getting as much done beforehand as possible. Here’s a detailed list from a few years ago about my day before preparations. It made everything so simple!
Remember to keep your focus on the why of the holiday! Don’t let yourself get sucked into the trap of trying to do everything. Make the menu simple, but delicious. Make your home inviting (we’ll talk more about this Friday), and keep your own attitude sweet, welcoming and brimming over with thankfulness.
Are there other stress factors about hosting the holidays that I overlooked? What triggers anxiety in your heart?
My church is hosting a Ladies’ Brunch and Ornament Exchange on Saturday morning. I’m always up for a fun event at church where we can fellowship over good food, open God’s Word together, and share the special Christmas season! Because we could have visitors who might not come prepared for the ornament exchange, I decided to bring some extras with me. I wanted them to be special and pretty, but not too pricey.
I had seen some Rae Dunn ornaments that were lovely, but they were way more than I wanted to pay since I needed about six. Then when I was Hobby Lobby this week, I got inspired to try to mimic the look of the Rae Dunn ornaments. Let me show you my finished product then I’ll tell you how easy it was to create. Continue reading “Homemade Rae Dunn-Like Ornament”→
I love hosting showers! Babies and weddings are just fun events to celebrate! They are both gifts from God, and that alone makes them special! This past Saturday I had the blessing of having a wedding shower in my home for a sweet young woman who has been a part of my Adult Bible Fellowship this year. I had so much fun coming up with a menu and decorations to help her celebrate her upcoming fall wedding!
I thought I’d show you how I plan and work ahead of time to keep things from being too stressful the morning of the shower.
Decide on a color scheme – I used pink and deep maroon flowers, the colors of the bride’s wedding.
Begin to decorate the week before. Here are some things I had done before Friday~
Sketched on my chalkboards
Make/prep whatever food you can ahead of time. My do-ahead’s included:
Cooking the sausage for the sandwiches
Cutting strawberries for the scones
Putting all the dry ingredients for the scones in Ziploc bags, ready to mix
Get out all the dishes/platters you’ll need ahead of time. The night before set the tables, label platters and places where the food will be placed. I use sticky notes on the platters telling what food goes there. Then the day of the shower, if someone wants to help, they know where to put things. or if I’m working alone, that keeps me from getting frazzled!
Get the pitchers, utensils, plates and napkins ready.
The day of the shower, try to have the food ready for the oven, or finished, if possible 30-60 minutes before your guests arrive. Then you can have the kitchen clean and you’ll be ready to greet your friends as they come.
Also, accept help if others offer! A friend from church did the fruit and the punch. My daughter came an hour early and helped me finish plating food. Oh,and having a husband who is so wonderful to do dishes is a super-duper blessing!!!!
Working ahead is the best way to keep from being stressed. A relaxed hostess can make her guests feel welcome because she really will be glad they came!