Thanksgiving 2021: Impress Don’t Stress

Local Ann Arbor event designers and maker of all custom things, PartyMomPlanners, introduce some inspiration for your Thanksgiving table – in ways that impress without all the stress.

Some ideas they provided for making your family gathering an event to remember without overwhelming you in the process:

Plan Ahead:

  • 1+ week out:  Organize your recipes and make your grocery list. Figure out your table design and finalize your guest list and ensure you have your turkey ordered.
  • Week of Thanksgiving: clean out space in your fridge for your prepared food and clean your house.  Thaw the turkey.  Make any foods that can be frozen ahead of time.
  • Two Days Before (Tuesday): Make foods that will keep well in the fridge like cranberry sauce and desserts, double check your shopping list, write down your cooking schedule.
  • Day Before (Wednesday): Spot clean, set the table, chill white wines, prepare any food or chopping you can, ask kids to help decorate
  • Thanksgiving Day: Cook the turkey and prepare the rest of the food and ENJOY the day!

Pick your Battles.

Consider parts of the meal you could buy instead of making to save you time and ASK FOR HELP!  Ask your guests to bring food or drink items and when they arrive – give them specific assignments.

Desserts that wow and you purchase locally (+ save you time!):

24th Cheesecakerie: whole or by the slice!

Le Bon Macaron : pick colors that accent your table setting

Bakehouse 46: recently opened in downtown Ann Arbor


Keep it simple.

Pick a theme / color / focus for your table.  You don’t need to have a lot if it all works well together.  Tie your floral setting into the dishes and table setting, name cards – make it all one cohesive plan.

Start by picking out the main pieces / linens / dishes / vases you plan to use and work around those items.

Some color and theme ideas from PartyMomPlanners:



Friendsgiving printable from @PartyMomPlanners


It doesn’t take big dollars to make a big impact.

Small statements and low-dollar highlights can be just as exciting as expensive purchases.

Use your printer to create custom place settings for your guests. It feels extremely thoughtful and decadent without much cost/effort.  This is also a great project with which kids can help!

@PartyMomPlanners will also design them for you (sending you the graphic to download and print at home ranging from $5-$20). Want custom glassware or guests’ names printed on napkins? They will also provide local delivery! Message and order (+ any custom requests) on the Etsy site HERE.

University Floral has flowers that feature a pumpkin as a vase starting at $30 (makes a great hostess gift as well!).

University Flower Shop has arrangements displayed in a pumpkin starting at $30. Photo from

If you’re able to design your own arrangement, Trader Joe’s has great prices on florals. Or, as a fun project to do with kids: go for a walk foraging outside!  Gather blooming grass or other fall foliage that can double as your floral arrangement.  It’s free, fun for the whole family, and creates a great fall feature for the table.  The added bonus is that when they dry, they provide decoration long term.

Spray Paint – get a can that matches your decor at your local Ace Hardware and spray paint items you already have (or those fall plants you found!).  See ideas in below.

Spray painting items can create a great look for little cost. Courtesy of @PartyMomPlanners

Don’t forget the kids!

For everyone to enjoy their day – it’s best to keep the kids happy as well!  Ensure you have kid friendly options on the menu and snacks to keep them going throughout the day.

Consider kid friendly coloring activities – or place craft paper on a special table for them with crayons.  Set out your kid friendly games or put a holiday movie on that everyone can enjoy.



Hostess gift ideas

Not hosting this year but don’t want to show up empty-handed? You can’t go wrong with the classics: flowers, wine, or offer to cook something.

But, consider ideas from local stores for a more personal and unique touch while supporting local stores.  Want to provide an eco-friendly gift?  Wrap your gift in a kitchen towel! The following local stores will be able to help you find the perfect item!

Rock Paper Scissors (A2 & Saline)
The Write Touch (now located by Trader Joes)
Catching Fireflies
Cherry Republic