It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and everyone is busy tying up loose ends and preparing so they can spend the latter part of the week enjoying time with family and friends.

For some, probably most, Thanksgiving signifies the beginning of the holiday season – that six-week gauntlet until New Years Day. Suddenly, calendars are filled and bank accounts are emptied, and everyone’s stress level starts to creep up as we all try to manage to fit everything in and make it all happen.

To this I say we all need to take a step back from the frenzied weeks ahead and appreciate Thanksgiving for what it actually is – a day to celebrate your blessings; everything else is inconsequential.

It’s been a busy year, but one I feel quite grateful for. This year has been filled with new opportunities, wonderful clients, a supportive family, friends new and old, and many, many learning experiences. To me, those are the things that matter, not orchestrating a perfect meal or decking out an exquisite table.

You see, we all have an idea in our head of what entertaining for the holidays should look like, and it is usually something like this:

Oh Jackie, always perfection in pearls, making everything look effortless.

Oh Jackie, always perfection in pearls, making everything look effortless.

But in reality, time runs short, extra people join you for dinner throwing off the seating arrangement and you have to move the centerpieces anyway in order to serve the food. In the spirit of enjoying the day, just roll with it.

Don’t worry about creating an elaborate centerpiece, or handwriting place cards in calligraphy. Your friends and family are going to remember the moments around the table, not the stuff on it. Not only that, but Thanksgiving comes with an automatic centerpiece – the turkey!

It may sound counterintuitive for me to tell you not to decorate your table for the holidays, but I am from the “less is more” design camp. Simple always looks far more elegant than overdone. Not to mention, you will have to find someplace to store those straw cornucopias, Styrofoam pumpkins and silk flowers after the fact.

Some inspiration you can take from Jackie O. to ensure your table still looks formal enough for the occasion:

  • Dress your table with linens: a tablecloth, or runner and placemats, and cloth napkins
  • Pull out the china, silver and crystal for the place settings; or if you don’t have a collection of formal dinnerware, use simple white plates and your everyday silverware and glassware
  • Use beautiful serving platters and dishes

The key is to keep everything simple, including the color palette. This allows star of the show, the food, to shine. Allow the color of the cranberries, greens and sweet potatoes to bring pops of color to your table.

Finally, my last piece of advice is to use your special family dishes and recipes. If ever there was an excuse to use your grandmother’s relish tray, Thanksgiving is it. Everyone will remember when it used to sit on her dining room table for the holidays and it will, almost, feel like she’s there again.

That’s what it’s all about folks, the people special to you. So set the table a day in advance and order pies from a bakery if that’s what it takes to make sure you have time to enjoy every moment of the day with your loved ones.

Wishing you all a wonderful and worry-free Thanksgiving!