Preparing People

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means many of you are preparing to host a meaningful gathering with family and friends. The holiday season is always stuffed full of planning and logistics. There are grocery lists to make, invites to send, decorations to buy, and crudites to fuss over. In all the hustle and bustle around the “things” that make a great party, don’t forget about the human beings that will fill the party. They deserve preparation too! As Priya Parker notes in her book, The Art of Gathering, “Your gathering begins the moment your guests first learn of it.” Here are some tips on how to prime your guests before they show up around your table:

Include Your Expectations

When you send out your invitations, be sure to include an essence of the evening you imagine. If you imagine a house full of raucous activity with lots of people and kids laughing, maybe host a buffet-style football kind of Thanksgiving and send a text message invite with notes like “bring your favorite beer” and “kids are welcome.” Your friends will know exactly what to expect with an invite like that. They won’t bring a bottle of wine, get a babysitter, or wear a nice blouse. What if you envision an intimate gathering that is cozy with a touch of formality? Send out paper invites with the aesthetic you imagine, like plum and antique gold. Include details about “carefully selected guests” and “a moment to honor those you’re grateful for.” These details give your guests a sense of what you expect out of the evening and what kind of expectations they are allowed to have too.

Send Special Instructions

Along with your invites, ask your guests to bring something special. It could be a stack of thank you cards to trade with other guests or a poem about something they are particularly grateful for this season. They could bring a song that helped define their year or a unique dish that tastes like home. Sending special instructions gives your guests the opportunity to co-create the evening with you and sparks deep conversation. In this way, your guests will already feel welcomed, included, and even inspired before they arrive at your warm, glowing house. 

Send Texts and Build Trust

Reinforce your connection with each guest by sending personal text messages, emails or making individual calls. Give your guests a sense of what the evening will be like and who they will meet. If you haven’t been in touch in a while, ask them about their personal lives and share with them what you hope they can take away from the gathering–rest, connection, new energy, or new ideas! Also emphasize why you are excited to have their presence and energy in the space. 

We hope these tips make your Thanksgiving extra meaningful this year. No matter who is around your table or what kind of food you serve, a primed guest is a doorway to the gathering of your dreams.