So, you’ve agreed to host Thanksgiving (or maybe it’s Friendsgiving)! It should be both an honor and a pleasure, but it’s normal to be at least a little nervous, even if you’re also excited. Luckily, there are lots of easy things you can do to make your home as inviting as possible, so all your guests will be extra-glad to be there. From the major tasks to the minor touches, here are ways to make your space cozier and your guests as happy as possible.
Clean and Declutter
That’s not to say you need to hide everything extraneous. Keep out your coffee table books and your beloved knickknacks that give your place your own personal touch, but stash all the truly random stuff like old magazines, mail, stray pairs of shoes and sweaters, rolled-up yoga mats, and half-finished DIY projects in a closet somewhere, or at least shove them out of sight beneath your bed or couch.
VonHaus Seagrass Storage Baskets, 4 for $37.99 on Amazon
Handsome storage baskets are a great way to stash your stuff and start getting organized.
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Set Up Some Mood Lighting
Candles and warm white fairy lights can lend a lovely glow and festive atmosphere to your place. Cluster candles—investing in LED versions is a smart move, since they’re safer and last longer (save occasional battery changes)—on tables and shelves, and don’t forget the bathroom counter.
Gold Mercury Glass Votive Candle Holders, 12 for $18.59 on Amazon
Pop in LED candles for a warm, flickering glow without actual flames.
Drape string lights around windows and mirrors, and suspend them over eating areas, or run them around the perimeter of your room. If you have trouble hanging them, you can just put them inside Mason jars surrounded by brightly colored leaves and mini pumpkins for cute centerpieces that also illuminate your table.
Maple Leaves String Lights, $10.99 on Amazon
These battery-powered autumn leaf lights can be used as a garland or woven into a centerpiece.
If you still need your overhead lighting too, consider swapping out way-harsh or too-dim bulbs for those with a warmer wattage. The right light really does wonders for any space.
Include a Few Seasonal Touches
Scatter a few pumpkins and gourds around your space, from the dining area to the coffee table (which may in fact be one and the same), and again, in the bathroom too—any space that guests will use.
You can leave the pumpkins au naturel, or paint them to complement your decor (matte white, bright blue, metallic gold…), even turn them into autumnal vases if you want to put in a bit more work.
Incorporate fall herbs and spices into your table setting too, and around the rest of the room. You’d be surprised how versatile everyday produce can be, and it’s certainly cheaper than going to a florist. Likewise, you can gather items like gnarled branches, colorful fall leaves, acorns, and pine cones for free on nature walks, and work them into your seasonal displays as well.
Gather Cozy Blankets and Pillows
This is especially important if you don’t have quite enough traditional seating—and even more so if you have bare wood floors. You’ll never regret having extra cuddly blankets stashed around your house, so now’s the time to invest in a few if you’re currently lacking. Leave them out and accessible, draped over furniture or rolled up in baskets, and let people know they’re free to use them.
Better Homes & Gardens Oversized Velvet Plush Throw Blanket, $9.48 at Walmart
Super soft with a herringbone pattern, in aqua, navy, or gray.
Chenille Throw Blanket, $16.99 at Target
This knit chenille version is just as soft and comes in an even wider range of colors.
If you don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend on fancy throw pillows, though, buy cheap ones and secondhand sweaters that are reasonably cute and cozy to the touch to use as pillow slips. If you can’t sew, no worries; there’s an easy fold-and-tie method to achieve a similar result.
Invest in Slightly Nicer Hand Soap and Lotion
Or at least get a semi-fancy dispenser and transfer your normal Softsoap to the classier container for an instant upgrade.
Hobnail Glass Soap Dispenser, $12.99 at Target
Even the cheap stuff seems more luxurious when it comes out of something this classy.
A pleasantly scented lotion is nice to set out alongside for those who want it—it doesn’t have to be La Mer hand cream, but going at least one step up from Suave can be a nice touch (literally), and you’ll have plenty left over to pamper yourself after the party’s over too.
Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Lotion, $10 on Amazon
A sweet and cozy scent with shea butter for soft skin.
While we’re in the bathroom, if you don’t have a hand towel, buy one of those now; they’re inexpensive, and even the very cheapest one is a much appreciated alternative to having to use someone’s personal bath towel for drying your hands.
Soft Jacquard Accent Towels, $6.99 at Target
These plush, patterned hand towels come in several colors.
Make Your Place Smell Nice
You’ve already gotten rid of anything that reeks when you deep-cleaned, of course, but consider making things even cozier on the day of by making the place smell really good. If you’re cooking, that’s probably already happening as a byproduct, but simply mulling some wine or spiced cider amps up the lovely welcoming vibe a lot (with the obvious bonus: you also have a nice warm drink to enjoy). Try our Slow Cooker Spiked Wassail for something that smells and tastes delicious.
Scented candles can’t beat that—but they can edge over into unpleasantly chemical territory at times. If you’re not a fan of mulled drinks, just brew up some stovetop potpourri to scent your space and give everyone the warm fall fuzzies.
Make It Easy for Guests to Find Things
Take the guesswork out of locating the bathroom or the water glasses by making signs to point people in the right direction, and setting things out in the open if you have the space.
Group glassware and drinks together—you can use a cooler for soda and beer to cut down on kitchen traffic, free up fridge space, and make it easier for people to grab their own refreshments. If you really don’t love the look of it, paint it, or cover the outside with washi tape for a quicker fix.
Hammered Silver Beverage Tub, $14.39 at Target
This aluminum tub is another stylish and practical way to set out bottles of beer, wine, soda, and sparkling water.
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Set out all the silverware people will need, as well as napkins, and make it clear where they can put their empties and other trash or recycling too.
Set Out Snacks
You don’t want people to fill up before the main event is on (so scale your cheese board back accordingly), but putting out a little something as simple as a dish of candied nuts is a nice touch that can make guests relax a little—and give them something to do with their hands (and cushion the impact of any alcohol they may be drinking before dinner). Use a generously sized bowl or platter, or a grouping of smaller vessels, so no one feels shy about partaking.
Ceramic Squirrel Candy Dish, $19.99 on Amazon
Adorable and practical; always a winning combination.
Don’t be reluctant to decorate with the things you truly love, from treasured photos to old trophies with sentimental value and odd objects you’ve acquired over time, no matter how idiosyncratic they may be. They’ll give your space a sense of character and could even be the basis for some interesting conversations, which is always a plus.
For more ways to up your hosting game, check out these Friendsgiving tips, and our Ultimate Guide to Friendsgiving. Don’t forget our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving for even more tips, tricks, hacks, and recipe ideas.
Related Video: Etiquette Tips to Help You Survive Thanksgiving
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.