Getting Ready for the Hoo Ha

Just four more days and the 8th annual Thanksgiving Hoo Ha will be here! Thirty or so family and friends will be here this year. We love hosting this family reunion. I know not everyone feels as relaxed as I am when it comes to having large gatherings at their house.

Last year a friend was having 20 over for the big day and she was in a panic. Weeks beforehand, she was experiencing some anxiety wondering what to feed them, how to entertain them and what about all the chaos and noise?

I was in the grocery store this past Friday shopping for that night’s dinner. When I got to the end of the store, a friend walked up. It was then that I said out loud that I should perhaps go ahead and get my Thanksgiving shopping done now too. I just knew that the store would be jammed with shoppers over the weekend, so while it was relatively quiet, I’d get what I needed to feed the crowd. This friend asked how many I was having over. “Thirty or so”, I answered. She looked at me with her eyes widened and asked, “You haven’t bought your food yet?” Me- “Nope. But now seems like a good time.” My friend walked away completely aghast and offered a quick “Good Luck” over her shoulder.

She made me laugh. I still had over a week to prepare! I don’t know. I guess when you’ve hosted this many people for this many years, you just kind of know what you’re doing. The house is clean. Counters have been cleared off. I’m cooking up the same menu. And the bocci ball set is ready to go! I haven’t changed a thing. Some might call me lazy for not creating something new, but I like to call it tradition.

IMG_6959.JPG I tried jazzing up the outside of my house with flowers, but with a couple of days of freezing temperatures, then yesterday it poured down rain all.day.long. Needless to say, my flowers look a little frazzled. Am I going to freak out and replant? Nope. It is what it is.

IMG_6960.JPGHey at least my pumpkins still look fresh! Last year they turned into a soggy, mushy mess.

IMG_6961.JPGI’ve kept the decorating simple. This is the same banner I made last year.

IMG_6962.JPGA couple of days ago I needed to get crafty. There are some days when I just have to do it! I made this cute little swag.

IMG_6951.JPGMy dining room was looking a little sad. I didn’t want to buy anything new, so I just used what I had. But these candles looked even sadder!

IMG_6952.JPGI found this bag of pinecones and acorns in my cabinet.

IMG_6953.JPGHot glue gun and pipe cleaners, I knew I could do something.

IMG_6954.JPGAfter measuring around the candle, I started hot gluing the pinecones and acorns on the pipe cleaner.

IMG_6958.JPGYup! That will do.

Over the years, I’ve learned to keep the important things important. A perfectly clean house? Not important. With 30 or more people walking through and hanging out…it will get messy. There will be glasses and plates scattered about. There will be spills and accidents. Everything is cleanable. No need to worry. Just have the paper towels and spray cleaner handy.

The most pin-worthy decorating? Not important. The cutsie stuff is nice to set the mood, but it isn’t what makes the memories. Turn off the tv. Play games, talk, hike, get moving! These are the things that make memories.

Cooking up a gourmet meal? Not important. Let’s get real. With lots of people, lots of ages and lots of tastes, you just have to go with what the majority likes. Who doesn’t like sweet potato casserole with marshmallows? Is it the most healthy-diet friendly-sugar free-gluten free-paleo dish? Nope. But if you are not in danger of being taken to the ER because you had a spoonful, Go For It! It is one meal. Enjoy it. Go for a walk after the dishes are done.

Don’t have the huge farmhouse table that seats 20 outside? Neither do I. I set up several tables all over the place. I encourage people to sit wherever- inside and outside. Maybe rent a table. I use a large painters cloth for my tablecloth. It works. You could cover the tables with brown Kraft paper. “Linens” don’t have to be pressed and matching. I think they are awfully pretty, but if I don’t have the energy to pull out the iron, it’s ok. That’s not important.

Finest Thanksgiving China from Williams-Sonoma? Not important. Let’s get super real here. There are plenty of pots, pans and casserole dishes to wash, without adding hand washing a bazillion china plates. Large, oval Chinet plates work great, because they are big enough and strong enough for a spoonful of all the offerings and you can throw them away. Personally, I would rather be outside playing Bocci Ball or throwing a frisbee than wasting time doing the dishes.

What are the most important things?
1. Family and friends are gathered in love, laughter and grace.
2. Food is shared.
3. Memories are made by doing something together.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Enjoy today. Make some happy some memories.

Thanks for dropping by!

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