Hosting Thanksgiving outdoors
What sounded great two Coronas at the beach this summer… now sounds ridiculously hard and unfortunate. I was inspired by some photos I saw on Pinterest of twinkle lights and Al Fresco dining, cue the soft music in the background, and free flowing wine. I was going to CRUSH this! Envisioning an episode of “Parenthood”…each character represented. It’s August and I recall telling my mother how great this will be.
We will convene in Atlanta, as it’s halfway between my midwestern roots and my parents island retirement. That settles it. Thanksgiving in Atlanta. My sister, who I count on for sanity and counsel, (3 Coronas in at this point) thought this idea was FANTASTICAL (her words). Only this isn’t California, and we aren’t the Bravermans. But here goes.
The picture that started this whole mess… hiding guiltily away on my Insta with the caption…”Porches That Beckon”. Beckon what? Anxiety? Nervous breakdowns? Burned turkeys? That picture was fake…photo shopped, an illusion of grandeur, not to be replicated in real life. “What?? You believed the photo?? Hahahahaha”…I could actually hear them laughing. Well the fix is in….and I’m here to tell ya…it’s a doozie. And here’s how it’s done…period.
Mission: Create a Thanksgiving Al Fresco that people will talk about for years to come.
1. Heat Lamps:
Depending on where you live, bonus points for Chimineas…like seriously awesome and cool.
2. White Table Cloths:
White table cloths are a staple and can dress up any table in no time. Don’t spend a lot. It’s dark and no one cares…Target? No to mention, if people are having a good time there should be wine stains.
Think singer songwriter mixed in with classics: My hands down favorite right now…Jason Isbell and throw in Fleetwood Mac for good measure (everyone will ask you about it…just watch). Followed by a more upbeat Zac Brown later in the evening, as time permits. And don’t be afraid of a little volume.
4. Twinkle lights:
Twinkle lights don’t need to be fancy. I actually believe the less fancy, the better. I have been to a million dinner parties…and my favorite ones almost always end up with ordered in pizza and dancing:) My point is, the harder you try, the worst for the guest. Law of diminishing returns. See it all the time. Big believer.
Borrow card tables, pull tables out from inside…the more mismatched…honestly the more awesome! Throw those white table clothes on and no one knows the diff. Round tables encourage conversation and nobody feels left out. Come on guys! It’s 2018, let’s include everyone!
Wanna up the fun factor? Add cheap throw away cameras on the table and let the selfies ensue. They will ALL SUCK…fyi. But they’re fun to take!
Drinks are key! Big pitchers of wine and water at every table will keep your guests talking and happy.
Light up the back of your house with sconces or outdoor lighting, but not too bright…what’s even better (sometimes) is to let the indoor glow light up the outside too. Less bright = better. I’m tired of debating this…darker = better. True for restaurants and true for Thanksgiving outside.
Keep tables tight enough that everyone can visit table to table.
A fun game will get the party started and make everyone forget that you are vegetarian cooking Thanksgiving: BDG game. I learned this from PINK and well, she knows everything…so here goes: Have each guest talk about a BRAG, DESIRE and something they are GRATEFUL. If there are too many people, just share at their own table or make it optional to participate.
BOOM! You just delivered the best Thanksgiving these people have probably ever encountered…and they won’t forget it! Now, if they end up Dancing to Zac till after midnight…THEN YOU CRUSHED IT. Need help with your porch design or curb appeal, brick&batten would love to partner with you on a virtual exterior design.
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