By Roxanne Hughes Packham and Hannah Packham
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time to celebrate others because as the name so obviously indicates it is a time to “Think on these Things” as Philippians 4:8 commands us to do...whatsoever is worthy of praise...think on these things!
With that in mind my daughter, Hannah age 19, wrote the following as her advice for the best holiday tips, I’ll wrap up with a few more tips at the end!
It’s a close tie between Thanksgiving and Christmas for my favorite holiday, and not just because my Grandma makes the world’s-best-mashed potatoes. I love thanksgiving because it is centered around family and appreciating people you love. This can be done in various ways ranging from relationships to décor. The most important part of this holiday is showing people how much you love them, how thankful you are to have them in your life, and spending time building those relationships.
Before everyone arrives the first step is decorating your home. For Thanksgiving use autumn and neutral colors. You can even make centerpieces using fall leaves. Print out verses in cute font and autumn colors. Select verses discussing thankfulness, such as:
-Colossians 3:15 (NAS) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
-Colossians 4:2 (NAS) Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving
-1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NAS) in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
One of my favorite things my mom always does is set out seasonal candies. All you have to do is get some fall colored M&M’s and pour them in a dish and leave them out for people of every age to enjoy. Trust me that one is always a hit. Décor is really your area to be creative and use what you have to give your home unique Thanksgiving décor.
During Thanksgiving, relatives seem to appear from every corner of the country to share a home and a meal. This being said, a more than comfortable amount of people sometimes shares a home for this week. So many houseguests present the perfect opportunity to show love and hospitality. So, here are a few ways to show hospitality to your guests through their living space. Clean! The best way to show a guest you’re prepared for their visit is a clean home. No matter what the budget is, this is an easy, but huge way to say welcome. Leave a note on their pillow: just to say, “Welcome,” or anything else sweet you would like to say. Lastly, be considerate of your guests needs. After traveling I am always hungry, so I’m sure other people feel the same way. Offer food and drinks to your guests. If they need it, let them rest since traveling can be exhausting. It’s no offense to you if they want to disappear for a while upon arrival. If you were them, you’d probably want to shower too.
Now comes the most exciting part of Thanksgiving: the table setting for the big meal. The most important thing here is to truly incorporate thankfulness into the ambiance. I would do this by printing verses and framing them on or around the table. This serves as a reminder to everyone why they are gathered. Place cards aren’t necessary; they can be a bit too formal. However if you decide to use place cards, there is a sweet touch that can easily be added. On the outside of the place card, as usual, you write the guests name. The inside is where you can get creative: write a quality that you see in that person that you are thankful for. Though this is a small gesture, people will appreciate it. Now, set the table tastefully to your liking. Incorporate any festive flare that you like as far as centerpieces and decoration on the table. When it comes time for serving the food, make sure you’re organized so no one feels uncomfortable. Whether you decide on buffet or family style dinner, be sure it’s a practical approach to your situation.
Once everyone is seated, give thanks together through prayer and then enjoy your meal. Go around the table and say what you are thankful for. There are a few different ways to do this. One year we went around and said why were thankful for the person on our right. Another year, we just stated what we were thankful for. Maybe you could draw names and say why you’re thankful for the person whose name you drew. There are so many ways to do it, and though it can be cliché, it is important to vocalize your gratitude on this holiday. It can even result in a few laughs.
The most important thing is enjoying your company through the entire process. If you get too wrapped up making everything perfect, you will miss out on your company. Don’t forget the most important part of hospitality is relationships. Don’t expect everything to be perfect, I can guarantee it won’t be one hundred percent perfect. Instead focus on enjoying the time with family and it will be time well spent. That is true hospitality.
We are working on our next book, which I jokingly refer to as Holy Hospitality. However there is much truth in that. We al) strive to have hospitality in our homes that is Holy - set apart to be different, than this world. That means people are the focus. So...I will leave you with some specifics of hospitality with others as the focus:
1. Leave a note under everybody’s plate with a handwritten note about one thing you love about them or pass around a sheet with their name at the top and have everyone write one word that describes one of their attributes. (You’ll be surprised how long they keep it)
2. Have a piece of ribbon hanging on the wall (with a pushpin) with words of encouragement relating to your families collective attributes.
3. Sprinkle notes around the house (over the top even, like 100) of tiny little things you are thankful for. Like quiet mornings for example, or a son who takes out the trash. Little things are important.
4. Make this the holiday where you speak blessing and words of encouragement over everyone.
5. Print out (yes, on copy paper from computer is fine) quotes or scripture on thankfulness and stick in everyone’s water glass with a cut sprig of mint or such.
6. Hug everyone when they arrive! Don’t seem too busy for a hug and warm welcome.
7. Sprigs of greenery and a few pinecones is very pretty on the table, don’t fuss over the details: focus on the heart!
Roxanne Hughes Packham is an acclaimed California-based interior designer, whose classic designs grace homes from San Diego to San Francisco. She co-authored the hospitality book Inspired Design with daughter Hannah, as well as co-founded Inspired31.org a mentoring/mother-daughter group to inspire teenage girls to find, follow and celebrate God's DESIGN for their lives AND use it to impact others.