*This post is sponsored by La Crema Wines. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to bring you original content.
Of course, Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and grace, but sometimes the idea of hosting a major dinner party at home can be so overwhelming that the last thing you want to feel is thankful for the responsibility! The good news is that a bit of pre-planning and creative musing can ultimately save the day (that is, the dinner) before stress puts a strain on your role as host.
Drawing inspiration straight from the warm wood tones and cozy atmosphere of the new La Crema Wines estate located in the picturesque Russian River Valley wine region in Northern California, our editorial director, Caitlin Kruse, was able to infuse her own Thanksgiving gathering with a sense of West Coast calm. By balancing the earthiness of the estate with her signature ivory and blush-toned palette, Caitlin’s tablescape effortlessly inspired gratitude among her guests. Lovely fall foliage and flowers, freshly-poured glasses of wine and soft linens were the foundation for one memorable evening, and below, Caitlin’s sharing all of the details—from holiday hosting tips, a wine guide and even a DIY gratitude exercise that everyone will appreciate!
Tips for hosting the best Thanksgiving yet:
- Have a plan: Prep your ideas ahead of time, including having pinned or printed recipes on-hand, grocery lists made and duties delegated for the big meal.
- Prep ahead: Try keeping your mashed potatoes in a crock pot right out on the countertop so they’re ready to be served at dinner. Another idea is to pre-chop all of your veggies a day or two ahead so that these traditionally more cumbersome ingredients simply need to be tossed or quickly added to their respective dish.
- Know your wines: We all look forward to a glass of wine or two at Thanksgiving, so have a solid plan about which varieties to serve and when! Start with lighter whites like La Crema’s Pinot Gris, or bubbly while your guests nibble on appetizers, and then move along to something a bit richer like Chardonnays or Pinot Noirs. See our full Thanksgiving wine guide below!
- Stock up: A great rule of thumb when it comes to wine is to know there are about five glasses of wine in a bottle. Assuming your Thanksgiving dinner is lasting well beyond two hours, you can assume each of age and wine-consuming guest will have at least three to four glasses, around one glass an hour. Multiply the number of glasses per guest, divide by five and once you get your number, be sure to round up! And remember, it doesn’t hurt to have a few extras.
- Pre-set the table: Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to set your table. Have it all ready the day before so that it’s one less thing to worry about.
- Assign seats: We’re all mentally prepared for the chaos of juggling food in the kitchen come the holiday, but one thing many of us forget to plan ahead for is juggling guests. With a surplus of people roaming around, it’s best to have assigned seating for dinner so that your family members and visitors know exactly where to go. Bonus for cute tabletop place cards!
- Exercise gratitude: It’s what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Below, we’re sharing an easy yet meaningful way to show your appreciation for your guests (i.e. loved ones!) this Thanksgiving.
Our Thanksgiving wine guide:
- Monterey Pinot Gris: Perfect as a pre-dinner aperitif! It pairs with a variety of passed appetizers and is a lovely, easy sipper to get the evening going.
With the meal….
- Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are our go-to wines for a family-style meal that includes a bunch of different sides. Both of these wines pleasantly complement a Thanksgiving feast, and provide guests with the best of both worlds—a red and a white.
To end the evening…
- Late Harvest Gewürtztraminer: For dessert, always grab a late harvest wine, port or even a digestif so that you can cap off the meal with something sweet or herbal. La Crema’s ‘Sweet As’ Gewürtztraminer is a great option to have on-hand for pies, cheesecakes and cream- or fruit-based desserts.
We learned of this idea from a relative who had it set up for us one year! It’s really quite simple. Have an envelope with each guests’ name written on it along with little cards and pens. Throughout the day invite everyone to write a note for each person saying why they are grateful for them and stick it in the respective person’s envelope. At the end of the evening or during the meal, pass out the envelopes for everyone to open or save for later to read in private.
This year, we challenge you to give thanks for each and every moment at your upcoming holiday dinner party—even if there are a few hiccups along the way! As we discovered, good conversation, great food and stellar wine tend to fix even the biggest of hosting headaches, so don’t forget to laugh it off and embrace the day and dinner as they unfold.
For the ultimate inspiration, be sure to visit the new La Crema Wines estate in Sonoma County—we have a feeling that the sprawling grounds and impeccably designed space will have you feeling bolder about your hosting duties for many, many holiday events to come!