“We’ve had to rent an extra table and chairs in past years,” says the Celebrate author, who schedules the dinner a week and a half before Turkey Day. “You have to take into consideration that a lot of people travel for the holiday,” she explains. “So you can do it one of two days: You can do it in addition to a Thanksgiving, or you can do it in place of it, if you have friends who don’t travel for the day.” (Watch the video above to get her tips and see her setup.)
To assemble her menu, the LC Lauren Conrad for Kohls designer takes care of the bird, “since it needs to cook all day,” and sends an email to guests inviting them to “call dibs” on contributing any favorite sides or desserts. But the 31-year-old doesn’t stress about trying to coordinate flavors. “Most people go classic,” she notes, “but if there’s a bit of a mish-mash, it’s not a bad thing.”
Conrad created a casually elegant vibe by hand-drawing place settings on a butcher paper “tablecloth.” Slightly elevating the short mauve-and-cream-colored floral centerpieces on rough-hewn wooden discs leaves enough room on the table for serving dishes, she notes, but doesn’t obstruct anyone’s view — or ability to pass platters of food.
“We wanted to have either the flower arrangements or the food elevated,” elaborates Conrad. “People don’t typically have giant tables, but Thanksgiving is a larger meal, so this way, the food is still easy to access for everyone. So much time goes into the meal, and people tend to do seconds. Having the platters right there doesn’t call as much attention as having to get up with your plate and re-serve yourself.”
Of course, notes Conrad, it’s also a holiday where leftovers are expected. You can recommend that guests bring their own containers or you can have extras handy. Conrad prefers the latter: “In the past, I’ve gotten temporary containers from the grocery store, so I could send people home with a little container full. I think that’s the easiest way.”