Thanksgiving for a Crowd | A Thrifted, Mismatched & DIY Holiday Party

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Plain and simple, bread dressing is too good to have once per year. With that thought in mind, I started hosting Thanksgiving parties several years ago and have held one to three per year since. And while each year’s party holds its own hostessing nightmares**, the event continues to be my favorite part of the year.

**While trying to make my first Thanksgiving, I sat on my kitchen floor, crying and on the phone with my mother, because I wasn’t tall enough to scrape the potatoes off my ceiling. How did it get there? I only had one pot, and it was the size of one potato. I boiled them individually, then kept them warm in the oven. To mash, I stabbed them into chunks and tried to use a stand mixer to do the rest. (In case you aren’t aware, don’t do that.) My mother gave me the best piece of hostessing advice, that I will undoubtedly pass down later in life: Do you have any alcohol? Have a drink and calm down. Now get on the counter, grab a spatula and get the potatoes off the ceiling. When people arrive give them a drink, then maybe another. After some alcohol, no one will remember there aren’t any damn potatoes. 

This year, I forgot to serve the cranberries and let myself get a little off schedule. Whatever. I was liberal with my cocktails, so perhaps no one noticed that, either. The biggest issue with an open floor plan apartment is that people end up congregating in the areas I need to cook (particularly near the fridge), which makes things take a bit longer; but staying social during the cocktail hour made the 20-minute delay worthwhile. While I (with the chopping and stirring assistance of friends Erin and Sara) finished cooking, guests nomed on appetizers like loaded sweet potato skins and deviled eggs. The dinner menu consisted of roast turkey, bread dressing, red skin garlic mashed potatoes with gravy, wheat bread and butter, and green beans with onion and bacon. And while I didn’t cook dessert this year, we still had some scrumptious items brought by some ultra-thoughtful guests: Biscoff Spread pumpkin pie with coffee-whiskey whipped cream; chocolate caramel oatmeal bars; and caramel apple pie with ice cream. There was also a fantastic Apple Pie cocktail that might as well have been its own dessert, and festive SoCos and Cranberries for all (or all who weren’t beer/wine people, like me.) I can promise everyone at this party with any taste (both literal taste buds and otherwise) left  happy.

For a festive fall table, I grabbed a few inexpensive ($2.50-$7) bouquets in mustard, burnt orange, white, and purple and arranged them in old, small glasses that I then hid inside a teapot, pitcher and cookie jar. Around the three centerpieces I scattered a small handful of acrylic pumpkins, felt leaves and metallic confetti, plus a variety of tealight holders. Since my tablecloths aren’t autumn-specific, I used some semi-cheesy leaf-and-turkey patterned place mats beneath the mismatched Fiestaware and mid-century glassware. The best part of non-matching dinnerware? When you break items over the years, new ones mingle in flawlessly.

Seating for twelve isn’t the easiest thing to do in an apartment, but for parties less than fifteen, I’m pretty committed to a full table. I attached our kitchen table to an affordable folding table using belts around the legs, but it still wasn’t enough room; to fit a few extras, we created a “T” at the end using our desk. The arrangement might be a bit nontraditional, but I think the matching (and very, very clearanced $6-$11) tablecloths helped keep it all together. Short on chairs? Borrow what you can and buy the rest at Goodwill; I scored two interesting retro options for the price of one ugly metal folding chair.

Now onto the party: full glasses, empty plates, and more turkey than your body has room for. 

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Looking for similar decor? Find it here… Pumpkins & Gourds | Paper Napkins | Tealight Holders: Target Dollar Section | Table Scatter, Confetti | Table Scatter, Leaves | Table Scatter, Pumpkins | Fiestaware | Tablecloths: Bed, Bath & Beyond clearance rack | Honeycomb Turkeys | Vintage Glasses, Blue | Vintage Glasses, Black & Gold (Tall) | Vintage Glasses, Yellow | Vintage Glasses, Black & Gold (Short) | Owl Candy Dish | Owl Lantern

I’m always on the hunt for holiday decor, because I’m apparently sincerely older than 23 and already a mom. But seriously, holidays make me happy and sales make me happy, so post-holiday sales involving clearance decor are kind of the best. Here’s what I’ll be hunting sale endcaps for this year…

Thanksgiving Decor
Thanksgiving Decor by ohjuliaann

Looking for more holiday madness? Check out my Thanksgiving cooking timeline and DIY autumn wreath tutorial.

Are you equally in love with Thanksgiving? Share your favorite recipes, hostessing tips and decor ideas in the comments!

PS: The pets were, per the norm, the life of the party. All that cuddling must be exhausting, because they were unbelievably sleepy after. Case in point: Cap’n Crunch, sleeping hard on a couch. After hours of cooking and that much turkey, I may or may not have looked the same way.



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