There’s something that’s so cozy and calming about Thanksgiving—the gathering of loved ones, some serious comfort food, and traditions that help us feel connected to family and friends. So it should be no surprise that our creative director, Rebecca Proctor, is a whiz when it comes to hosting. Here are some of her favorite tips and tricks—and a peek into how her family celebrates the holiday.
“Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday because the focus is on four very important things: gratitude, family, friends, and food. And what could be more important? Here’s my fairly straightforward approach, which I’ve refined from year to year, for making this day special,” says Rebecca.
Get organized. “We have a tiny home, so space is always at a premium. I’m also a compulsive tidier, so everything must have its place (that’s an understatement—my spices are in alphabetical order). Thanksgiving dinner requires a lot of prep with the menu plan, setting the table, and all the details that go with it, so being organized is the secret to a successful day. Planning is everything.”
Menu creativity. “How do I say this delicately? Some members of my family don’t like turkey! My husband is a vegetarian, so I’m challenged each year to come up with a menu that everyone will enjoy. And yes, we always have a turkey. What is better than turkey, stuffing, and cranberry chutney combined together on one fork?”
Timing is also key. “I cook in advance of the big day to reduce last-minute stress. It allows me to spend time with my guests the day of, too.”
Set an extra place at the table. “At our house, this seat always seems to get filled. And by all means set a beautiful table! Think of setting the table as an expression of creativity and get into it—it’s best to do this the day before so you can add in last-minute details that you always think of as you’re going to sleep.”
Have take-out containers on hand to send leftovers home with guests. “This little extra package at the end of the evening is met with great delight by all my departing guests. I tie the bundles up with pretty baker’s string and send them on their way.”
Stock and style your bar. “Fresh flowers are a must. Our Courtly Check Enamel Wine Cooler anchors your statement and basically says, ‘Let the party begin!’”
Music! “Our son is a college freshman this year, and we expect a few of his friends to join us. The more the merrier! He, my husband, and many of our family members and friends are musicians, so the day is filled with lots of music and cheer.”
Remember the reason for the day. “Ask everyone to share one thing they are grateful for and then have a toast.”
Since we’re all about traditions at MacKenzie-Childs, here’s how some of our other employees spend their Turkey Day:
“Because my job is taking care of living things (plants, flowers, trees, and animals), my department doesn’t get days off. So seven days a week, holidays included, one of us is here. I’ve always covered the Thanksgiving holiday, so my annual tradition is to come in and take a walk around the campus with Simon, our resident goose mascot. It’s a nice way to work off all that turkey, and she seems to really love wandering around the grounds, just the two of us!” – Corinne B.
“After we sit down at the table and before we eat dinner, we will go around the table and each say something that we are thankful for. Whether it’s health, wealth, happiness, or a new pair of boots, it’s a nice way to show gratitude!” – Lacey R.
“My Thanksgiving tradition is putting up outdoor Christmas lights! While my mom and sister handle the cooking, I’ve always been outside, initially with my dad and now with my brother-in-law, putting up the lights so we can flip the switch as we sit down to a beautiful meal with friends and family. I have a strong preference for white lights, though there is always one tree with the multicolored old-fashioned bulbs. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!” – Tammy D.
“My husband’s mom always cooks a special breakfast (she has a different one for every holiday…for Thanksgiving, it’s meat pies), and she usually uses MacKenzie-Childs pieces we’ve given her in the past, especially her ceramic fish dish and her White Flower Market Butter Box. Then we drive to my parents’ house, where we actually go out for Thanksgiving, but the next day we begin putting up the Christmas decorations. Our favorite? The MacKenzie-Childs tree topper I gave my parents a few years ago.” – Andrea E.
“My little guy, Cash, and I make pumpkin bread the day before Thanksgiving so that when our guests wake up they have a yummy breakfast option.” – Ali K.
“Growing up, Thanksgiving was always the holiday we celebrated at our house with the whole family. My aunt had Christmas, and my Yia Yia had the most important ‘Greek Easter.’ No matter what holiday it was, however, it was Yia Yia’s meatballs that stole the show. Turkey? Meh…my brother and cousins and I piled our plates so high with meatballs that she used to have to bring two stockpots full of them to our house. If she were alive today, those would be our Courtly Check seven-quart stockpots!” – Mark B.