The unfortunate fact is, not everyone is a natural hostess at heart. There is decidedly an art to entertaining in the home, and for many — whether it's due to time or budget constraints (or just a simple lack of knowledge on where to begin) — it's one that doesn't always come easily. That's why the impending holiday tends to be a tad intimidating, as just knowing which Thanksgiving tableware essentials to invest in can seem overwhelming.
Luckily, with a little guidance from professionals like event planner Stefanie Cove, who specializes in full-service global event design and hospitality consulting, hosting a group of friends and family for Thanksgiving doesn't have to seem so scary. The Los Angeles-based entertaining guru has put together her fair share of private dinners for high-profile clients, so helping others plan a low-key holiday affair is no sweat for her.
Not only does Cove have some tried-and-true items for a chic yet manageable Thanksgiving tablescape, but she's also able to share which you'll want to pass on. "Skip placemats," she advises, "They are overdone recently, and if you have a surprise guest you may not have enough and then it throws off the table setting and spacing!" As far as what to shop for when planning your feast, find her four must-haves (that will make your holiday feel totally professional) ahead.
Don't underestimate scent as a powerful tool for setting the mood. Besides the fragrance of whatever you're whipping up in the kitchen, the scent and look of a seasonal candle can immediately get your guests in the holiday spirit. “Make your house smell amazing so when guests walk in they instantly feel at home and ready to relax and enjoy the day," Cove recommends. In lieu of going the obvious pumpkin spice route, consider some other subtly seasonal smells. "Diptyque has an amazing fig-scented candle that does the trick," she suggests. "Light a few of these before your guests arrive and your house will smell like a dream!”
Neutral Table Linen
If over-the-top Thanksgiving decor doesn't sound like your cup of tea, do as Cove advises and take a more minimalist (and versatile) approach. “We suggest going a bit neutral with a linen or table runner, and then every year you can add different candles and floral palettes," she says. Another pro tip: Don't forget to toss a table pad underneath to keep your table in tip-top shape. "The pad will make the table feel comfortable and will also save it from any scratches or water stains,” says Cove.
Brass Candle Sticks
Not only are bronze candle holders a beautiful and timeless adornment for your table, they serve a very practical purpose in Cove's opinion. "I prefer using candles for height, as opposed to florals you can’t see over," she says. And once you've sorted which color will work with your scheme for this Thanksgiving, the event planner has a solution for keeping your sticks looking bright and shiny year-round. "A tip to keep the brass candle sticks in good shape after each use is to put them in the freezer over night," she says. "The next morning the dried wax will chip right off.'
“Take the time to assign seating at the table," Cove says. "It shows extra thought." Some sites like Minted offer the option of picking up pre-printed cards, or you can make your own with pretty paper. Mark each setting with them using a festive place card holder or, if you prefer a DIY approach, take Cove's recommendation and affix it to a fresh herb snippet and place it on top of the napkin.