Updated: Nov 16
Slone called me to report she was going to host a Bradley Style Thanksgiving Event this year because no one does Cozy Thanksgiving better than us.
She is not wrong.
We always host an intimate core-four Thanksgiving after the extended-family centered holiday. We get up on Thanksgiving morning and turn on the parade. Sometimes I make biscuits or scones. Then I start cooking my turkey, dressing, mac and cheese, crescent rolls, and pumpkin pie. Sometimes I will dare to convince the crew to eat a salad or green veggie, but I have given up that task. My crew wants brown carbs, comfy clothes, warm blankets, and an understood nap break, and I am happy to deliver that.
When Slone said she was hosting a cozy event, she asked for my advice.
Here are the tips I supplied to host a Cozy Thanksgiving:
Order a HoneyBaked Ham. While I love turkey and always spatchcock mine so it cooks faster, people get anxious about preparing a turkey and not everyone likes it. I told her to save herself the trouble and order a HoneyBaked ham, because anyone who likes ham prefers Honeybaked, and any leftovers make amazing slider sandwiches with the leftover rolls.
Tell everyone the dress code is pajamas. Anyone who has ever suffered through a holiday in an itchy sweater because someone said, “We can at least all look nice for one day!” will be grateful to spend the day in stretchy pants. Stretchy pants, big sweatshirts, robes, and chunky socks. In my house, sometimes I have to ask Behr to at least put on some pajamas before we eat because he feels that – as an American – it is his right to spend his holiday in his underwear and robe.
Have multiple blankets around. And not the expensive home store variety that you fret over keeping nice, but the fleece Target jobs that may or may not match anything you own. Keep a blanket on the back of the couch or the end so anyone can slyly pull it over a cuddle up.
Keep the TV on the coziest of Thanksgiving viewing. Start with the parade, dog show, then football (it does not matter who is playing or if you like football, it makes good background for conversations), and once everyone has eaten, turn on Grumpy Old Men. The chilly winter scenes where these old men voluntarily chose to ice fish will have everyone snuggled under fleece blankets while they eat their pumpkin pie or other desserts. Hubs sometimes wants people to watch some new release movie when people come over, and I honestly don’t believe people want that. We want to watch Friends with our friends.
Make cookies or other bite-sized treats instead of a big, sloppy dessert. People are always a little awkward with a plate and fork on other people’s couches. They worry about spilling or accidentally smearing something on the couch, blankets or pillows. With cookies, little hand pies, or fudge, the only worry is crumbs. And there is less clean up.
When dessert comes around, boil some water for warm beverages. I will make a pot of coffee, but it’s nice to offer tea as another option. Sweets and warm beverages go well together.
Keep the lights low. I have a light sensitivity, so I often close the blinds and turn on my lamps. Low lighting amplifies the cozy vibe, and provides a nice place for someone to nod off in the chair if they need to. More than once, someone commented that my house is a nice place to take a nap. I take pride in that.
Avoid the Spectacle of Forced Merriment. When people get together, it seems some people who host are intent on making the event cute, fun, special, or meaningful. Some people might get a wild hair up their butt and build a “Hot Chocolate Station!”. As adorable as they are on Pinterest, that’s too much pressure. You gotta make the hot chocolate, keep it going in the CrockPot, set out all the fixings, and then convince people to get up from their cozy seat to build their own customized cup of hot chocolate. Another spectacle is “Let’s gather everyone together for a family photo!” which is why people end up wearing itchy sweaters and slacks when they want to wear basketball shorts and sweatshirts. Then there is the most dreaded spectacle, “Let’s go around and say what we are all thankful for.” Nothing like putting your family members on the spot to proclaim their gratitude, when often many people who host are only waiting for someone in the family to say, “I am grateful you hosted this event. You did such a good job.” What if no one says that? There might be tears. Don’t force this on people.
Have a game that’s easy to drop in and out of. Uno is my go to game for all get togethers. All anyone needs is a deck of Uno cards and a table to play it at. People can drift in and out without a lot of pressure. It takes up very little space. It’s all ages. Or go outside. Kids can scooter or play basketball. The grown folks will sometimes see if they can still hit the basket. Toss around a football. It doesn’t have to be organized or intense. But sometimes people need to not be indoors.
Have an exit strategy. Eventually you need to get everyone out of your house. First, put away all the food – even the desserts. Turn off the coffeemaker and cork the wine. Then casually mention, “When y’all get home, please text me so I’ll know you made it.” Because if your space is too cozy, people might not ever leave.
Overall, know that you can’t please everyone. The reason people have an issue with Thanksgiving is because of the expectations, obligations, and pressure to make sure everyone is happy or God-forbid having fun. Say no to that nonsense. If someone is disappointed because you made a warm space full of food, gentle TV, and chairs and couches for napping, then they are not cut out for the cozy life. You don’t have to do anything you do not want to and if someone doesn’t like it, they are happy to host the event next year. The point of a cozy Thanksgiving is to make it easy, chill, and comfortable for everyone, including the people who host the event.
Read Books. Wear Boots.