Updated: Nov 12, 2020
It's no secret that 2020 has been full of disappointments. For some, the upcoming holidays will be no different. Typically a time of togetherness and joy, Thanksgiving has the potential to be the next item added to the long list of downsized events in 2020. However, it doesn't have to be! A friend just sent me a fabulous (and applicable) quote,
"People who wonder whether the glass is half empty or half full are missing the point. The glass is refillable."
And I'm going to add to that - "it is refillable with a different liquid if necessary." Maybe instead of aged sparkling wine, we'll sip some Truly ;) In other words, just because we can't have the Thanksgiving we typically have each year, doesn't mean that we still can't have an awesome celebration. This year has been a year of adjustments and Thanksgiving shall be no different. Besides, I think this year deserves a little "extra-ness" and a little "above and beyond" to make a typical holiday feel exceptional. We deserve to feel special, have something to look forward to, and have fun! AND, you don't have to be Martha Stewart or a Pinterest-worthy host to do so. Here are 8 easy ways to make Thanksgiving awesome:
1. Create Stunning Place Settings (the cheater way)
Bringing out your nice China is a standard practice on Thanksgiving but 2020 needs a little extra dressing up... ok, some major dressing up! However, designing and purchasing beautiful place settings is timely and expensive! If you're in the Chicagoland area, Dish and Decor Vintage Rentals has done the work for you! Owner, Janet has a stunning collection of mismatched, authentic vintage China. Simply pick your favorite China collection, your favorite color of stemware, and either silver or gold flatware. Each place setting includes a dinner plate, salad plate, colored water goblet, wine glass, salad fork, dinner fork, and knife for $8 per setting. Clean up is easy when renting from Dish & Decor, too! Simply clear each item of debris and place the unwashed items back in the dish racks you received them in (Janet takes special care when cleaning and sanitizing these vintage pieces and will handle the clean up for you). For those looking for a way to spruce up your table with minimal work, this is for you! A formal place setting will make dinner feel special and easily create a holiday atmosphere.
2. Provide Personalized Place Cards (that you don't have to make)
Whether you are a local to Aces Event Planning's hometown (Geneva, IL) or states away, this easy tip will work for you. There's something warm and fuzzy about walking up to a dinner table that has a special seat with your name on it. A handmade place card is a beautiful and meaningful sentiment to add your table setup. If your handwriting is anything like mine, it is nothing you want to have on display! Luckily, Jess, owner of The Letter J Creates does have display-worthy penmanship! Her place cards are stunning and extremely affordable at only $10 for 5 place cards (twine included). If you're local to the area, there will be a pickup in Wheaton on November 25th. If you're not near Wheaton, or choose to save some time, Jess can hand-letter your order, make it digital, and email you a printer-friendly version! JUST WAIT, THAT'S NOT ALL (sorry, had to...) If you mention Aces Event Planning when you place your order, you'll receive 10% off! Be sure to email or DM Jess on Instagram by 11/23 to secure your order.
3. Dress... However You Want, but Have Fun With it!
Dress up, dress down, dress purple, dress orange - dress with creativity! In may be the sorority girl in me, but having a theme ALWAYS makes things more fun! Maybe you want to make everyone feel special but creating a formal setting and therefore will request everyone get fancy. Ditching your normal attire and putting on your best can be fun, especially when many of us haven't have a reason to get dressed up for some time. If that sounds like a hassle, no worries! Your theme can be anything! Maybe you prefer to create a Thanksgiving the is comfy and low key... hoodies or pajamas it is (2020 is the year of the sweatpants after all). Plaid party, black and white party, wig party, hat party, anything goes!
4. Support Local
Local business are struggling. The pandemic has challenged us all but especially restaurants and local businesses being faced with immensely difficult operating conditions. There is no better time than the holidays to support your local restaurants. Many restaurants have become extremely innovative in the take-out options. Check out your neighborhood favorites, or somewhere you've never been, to see what you can order to save hours in the kitchen while supporting local.
If you are local to the Geneva area, here are some notables:
Obscurity Brewing in Elburn, IL: This is truly the best smoked meat I've ever had. Obscurity is not your typical brewery. Not only are their beer and meads amazing, but their food is to die for! Check out their carry-out Thanksgiving menu which includes smoked turkey *insert drooling emoji*
The Sugar Path Bakery in Geneva, IL: Tiny. Pies. Need I say more? Not only is Sugar Path delicious and total pros at the Thanksgiving pie game, but they offer tiny pie sets that are extremely adorable! These tiny pie sets can serve as an awesome hostess gift or simply be a charming addition to your dessert spread.
Graham's Chocolate, Geneva and Wheaton, IL: Graham’s Chocolate has been proudly serving the City of Geneva Illinois since 1987, making all of their delicious treats by hand. I like to consider myself a caramel apple connoisseur having tasted them at every farm and pumpkin patch I've been to. No caramel apple has even beaten Graham's! The peanuts have the perfect amount of salt to compliment the sweetness in the apple and -- well, I could go on but this isn't an article all about caramel apples. Just trust me, if you haven't had a Graham's caramel apple, you must! The apples can serve as an adorable party favor for each guest, be added to each place setting at the dinner table, or added to the dessert buffet.
Farmdog Flowers in St. Charles, IL: It's not only restaurants that need local lovin' during these tough times - it's all small businesses! Garrit, the owner of Farmdog Flowers, is truly an artist. Farmdog Flowers is a micro flower farm specializing in sustainably grown, farm fresh flowers and bespoke floral design services. Purchase a stunning centerpiece for your own table or to bring as the prettiest hostess gift you ever did see.
5. Make a Thankful Mural
Yes, the food is delicious and yes, the decor is fun but we cannot forget to acknowledge all that we have to be thankful for this year. Pick any open space in your home - a wall, a countertop, a window - and begin the mural by hanging a paper that says, "I am thankful for..." While everyone waits for food to be ready, ask them to fill the thankful mural with [at least] 3 things they are thankful for. You can supply post-it notes for everyone to write on and around the original paper, supply magazines and everyone can cut things out, provide larger piece of paper and as everyone to create their own mini-mural of things they are thankful for and hang it next to the "I am thankful for" sign. The options are endless and there is no right or wrong way to create a mural - work with what you have and let everyone get creative. If the thankful mural becomes a tradition in your home, be sure to take a photo of it each year have have fun reminiscing on family member's past gratitudes.
6. Download these Free Placemats!
Whether you are an adult or a child, traditional brain teasers and the ability to scribble is always fun! If you are going for a more casual place setting, I created a simple and fun placemat for you to print at home. You can arrange a mat at each place setting, only provides them for the kiddos, or simply have a pile on the counter for anyone who is interested to take. Click here to download and print the placemat.
7. Create an At-Home Escape Room
Let me start with a quick disclaimer - The point of this entire article is to help you create a fabulous Thanksgiving Day celebration with minimal work. This final tip does require a bit more work than the previous tips; however, it's awesome! In fact, my family will be creating an at-home escape room using Lock Paper Scissors this Thanksgiving. I came across Lock Paper Scissors after going through the stages of thinking through this Thanksgiving. The thought process went like this, "2020 sucks. What are we going to do for Thanksgiving??? It's only going to be our close family. That stinks... What can I do to make it extra special to make up for any sadness that we may naturally feel due to the circumstances? GAMES! No. No games. Sometimes people get annoyed with my games... Hire a magician to come! No. No magician. My husband will kill me if I pay a magician to come..." After some more thought and some Googling, I came to the idea of creating an at-home escape room. I've hosted several at-home murder mystery parties and those are AMAZING! However, they require a lot of prep work and need all participants to assume a full character including costumes and acting. While I'm all about that, it's not necessarily how my family would like to spend Thanksgiving. So, I found a fantastic alternative - an escape room! After reading great reviews, I determined that Lock Paper Scissors would be the best company to purchase from. For only $29 you get a downloadable kit that includes everything you need. Instructions for the host to setup, printable props, suggested playlist, and more! Everyone loves a great puzzle so this "game" will be something that everyone is the family can get on board with. Plus, if you're solving this escape room you won't be able to talk about COVID, the election, or any of 2020's other miseries ;) I cannot wait to share how this kit goes!