by Amy Wood
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love that a day is set aside for the express purpose of being thankful for all that God has done for us. You may find yourself with a house full of family and friends on this special day, so whether it is your first time to host a Thanksgiving gathering or you are a seasoned pro, I wanted to share some tips I have learned over the years that might make your day one that you can truly be thankful for!
Who is coming to your home for Thanksgiving? Is there anyone you know who will be alone for Thanksgiving? Many times there are international students who are studying in your area who have never experienced an American Thanksgiving. Take the time to pray and ask God who He wants to be at your home for Thanksgiving. Make sure you give them a call and let them know how excited you are that they will be in your home. Ask them if there is a dish that is important to their traditional Thanksgiving meal and if possible include it. Begin praying for the people who will be at your home.
Once you know who is going to be there you need to think through the seating, dishes and utensils you will use. You may need to borrow some folding tables or chairs from your friends. Do you need to wash or iron your tablecloths? What are you going to use for table decorations? You don’t have to spend any money for decorating. An arrangement of leaves and branches from your yard can make a beautiful table. Remember disposable plates and utensils can look very beautiful but if you use them you might consider using real glasses. Do you have all the serving dishes you will need or do you need to start calling your friends to borrow some?
What are you going to serve? Make your menu first then get out your recipes and make a list of what you need from the grocery store. This is a good time to plan out the timing of making and baking all that you are going to serve. It can be tricky to get everything timed correctly and on the table for one big meal. Look at the recipes and make a timeline for when dishes need to be started and what order they will be put in the oven. One year I used my neighbor’s oven to cook the turkey!
Many of the dishes that are traditionally served at Thanksgiving can be put together the night before–which really helps! Look over your menu and decide what can be done ahead of time. Most of the casseroles, pies, boiling the eggs, chopping and cleaning can be done ahead. Don’t forget that defrosting a frozen turkey can take several days! Butterball has a Turkey Talk-line 1-800-BUTTERBALL or you can email them at email@example.com throughout November and December.
How are you going to guide your guests towards thankfulness? Each year just before we pray for our meal, we give each person an unpopped kernel of popcorn. We explain that the corn is a reminder of the pilgrim’s thankfulness to God and His provisions for them even though they had very little. We have everyone stand in a circle and share with the group one thing they are thankful for as they place their kernel in a bowl that we pass around the circle. This can also be done at the table during the meal.
When the big day arrives, remember to keep the main thing the main thing. The focus of Thanksgiving is giving thanks. So, whether your meal is the picture of perfection or not, whether your table decorations look like they jumped out of a magazine or not, the only thing that matters at the end is if your guests felt the love of God while in your home. That, my friends, is something to be truly thankful for.
That my soul may sing praise to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalm 30:12
Please share with us your ideas for showing hospitality during the holidays and how you guide your family and guests to show gratitude to God.
Click on the fifth button above to get a printer friendly version of this post.