Decorate and Plan with Love for a Better Thanksgiving

We are headed full-tilt into one of the busiest seasons of the year – Thanksgiving. So many of us have this mental image of how things should look, and that image is probably from some magazine’s pristine, overly decorated photo.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to decorate for the holidays, and set my table with a bit of pizzazz. But when looking at that photo, I can’t help but wonder a few things: 1) where do you put the food? 2) What are my real chances of getting cranberry sauce stains out of that? 3) Even if I thought that sounded good, where on earth would I even get the ingredients to make it? 4) It would cost HOW MUCH to do that??? Yipes!

Thanksgiving place setting

A Confession

I hate to tell y’all this. My only nod to Thanksgiving in my table décor is Dot’s fruit dishes and cloth napkins that are placed in some metal painted fruit napkin rings I got lucky enough to find.

This is all placed on an assortment of tables. My farmhouse table seats six. A card table seats four. If necessary, I have no problem pulling up barstools to the island. In fact, I prefer to sit there, because I am closer to the food and in the prime spot for seconds. It is minimalist, but it’s perfect for us!

Family at Thanksgiving

The Real Decorations

My real Thanksgiving decorations are in a different form. The hearts of family, friends, neighbors and the invited guest that is seated around these tables, offer a stunning display of love. The food on the table is the best incense you can find – and it can’t be bought in a bottle.

The laughter is the twinkle in the air. The conversation is the garland stretched around the room. Not a magazine in the world can truly photograph decorations such as these.

Baking for Thanksgiving

Prepare Ahead of Time

Are you going to be doing a lot of the baking for your Thanksgiving meal? With a few weeks to go before the big day, take a look at your list, and see what you might be able to make ahead of time. Most desserts freeze well, so whip them up this weekend and remove one worry off your plate.

In our family, everyone brings a dish. In keeping with tradition, I am usually elected to make Dot’s Macaroni and Cheese and hot rolls. Both are easy to do and the mac and cheese can be partially prepared the night before and put in the refrigerator.


Want the recipe for Dot’s Macaroni & Cheese?  Get it for FREE HERE!

The rolls are done in segments (mixing, rising, forming, rising and baking). In between I can do other things. The turkey is usually done by Timmy, and my mouth is already salivating in anticipation of one of Rose’s desserts. Don’t try to do all the cooking yourself. Let others share in the work and enjoyment of bringing a meal together.

overnight guests at Thanksgiving

Overnight Guests

Will you have overnight guests? Spruce that guest room up the week before Thanksgiving. To make it more welcoming, add a small basket in the bathroom filled with items they may have forgotten, like toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant. Go the extra mile and add in some of those handmade soaps and maybe a bottle of bubble bath.

I have a vintage plate on the bedside table that I fill with Andes Candies or other treats, along with a bottle of water and a glass. And don’t forget to add a book or magazine that would appeal to your guest.

Washing dishes

Time to Clean Up

Regardless of where you are, there is always plenty of clean up after the Thanksgiving meal. One thing you can do to make it easier is to clean as you go. Keep a sink full of hot soapy water and wash as much as you can as you finish with it.  (For some great items to wash those dishes, check out these crocheted Dish Draining Mat, Dishcloth and Pot Scrubber ideas!)

After the meal, grab a helper or two, and use this time as quality visitation. Catch up with your cousin. Find out the real story behind that pointed look at the table. Reminisce about holidays of the past.

Even go so far as to assign someone to make up plates of leftovers. Give them masking tape and a pen to label each plate with a guest’s name to make last minute distribution a snap. The work will get done in less time and will be a joy rather than drudgery.

The whole concept behind Simply Living is just that – learning to live simply.  To do that, we need to remove any opportunity for stress to move in. Instead, don’t worry so much about a ‘perfect’ presentation.  Just embrace and enjoy the day, your family and life.

Take joy in preparing your Thanksgiving meal. Set the table with whatever you have on hand. Bake ahead, and clean as you go. Keep in mind all the things you have to be thankful for. Allow yourself to just enjoy the day, and be thankful for all those wonderful people who have provided the ‘decorations’.

Need more Holiday Preparation Information?  See how Annie does it!

Thanksgiving Dinner Tips to Make Your Holiday Easy!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.