A memorable Thanksgiving celebration instills a spirit of gratitude that permeates daily life for weeks to come. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

That said, hosting Thanksgiving can be a daunting, albeit rewarding task. This is especially true of those living in apartment homes. Some apartments may lack a dedicated dining room. Fridge space is often a bit more limited and seating may be an issue. However, it is absolutely possible to host an apartment Thanksgiving celebration that you and your guests will look back fondly on for years to come. Whether you’re planning a Friendsgiving or a more traditional family gathering, a little planning goes a long way. Here are some tips for hosting Thanksgiving in your apartment.

1. Exercise care with your guest list

A modest living space makes for a more intimate gathering. Yes, you may need to pare down the guest list a bit. Realize that you can include other friends in other holiday gatherings to come. And while working on your guest list, be sure to note the needs of any vegans, vegetarians, or guests with food allergies who might be in attendance.

2. Think about the ambiance

A colorful fall wreath is a welcoming touch. DIYers can fashion one from seasonal items like mini-pumpkins, corn cobs, and dried flowers. Check out Country Living for an amazing range of ideas.

Is your gathering earlier in the day? If so, take advantage of the natural light flowing through your windows. Add some string lights to brighten the setting on a cloudy day or after dark. Consider modest-sized centerpieces so guests can see one another across the table. Add seasonal throw pillows to your living area.

Will TV watching be a part of the day? If so, think about popular programming. This might include the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the NFL’s Thanksgiving lineup.

3. Safely thaw your turkey

Preparations for many a Thanksgiving feast begin with bringing a frozen turkey home. Safely thawing a bird that’s as solid as a rock takes some planning. The USDA recommends refrigerator thawing, allowing 4-5 hours of thawing time per pound. For example, if you’ve purchased a 16-pound turkey, anticipate it will take about four days to thaw out.A close-up of wine glasses begin toasted together. Holiday lights can be seen in the background. A quote reads: "Whether you're planning a Friendsgiving or a more traditional family gathering, a little planning goes a long way."

4. Consider non-oven alternatives

If you opt for a whole turkey, it and the oven will maintain a cozy relationship – for hours. Prepare side dishes early and reheat when the time is right. Consider sauteed vegetables. Make use of your crock pot. All Recipes offers tips on how to simultaneously cook multiple dishes in the oven.

Another way to cope is by embracing no-cook and no-bake entrees.  A big bowl of salad allows your guests to go for some lighter fare. Butternut squash soup is seasonal and easy to serve. Check out this list of no-bake desserts from Good Housekeeping here. Consider tasty selections like cranberry cheesecake pie or chocolate tiramisu.

5. Potluck possibilities

If available kitchen space and the idea of a big feast don’t quite mesh, opt for a Thanksgiving potluck. Circulate a sign-up form to get the desired menu. Consider foregoing the big spread replete with a 20-pound turkey. If you do commit to serving a whole turkey, here’s some advice on calculating amounts per guest.

6. Seating

Will your dining room table seat all the guests? If not, plan accordingly. If you don’t have folding chairs and tables, consider borrowing them from neighbors who do. Or invest in a folding table and chairs for this and future gatherings. A six or eight-foot-long table with folding benches is another option. Often, the supplementary seating is mostly for dinner. Don’t hesitate to rearrange furniture to better accommodate your guests before, during, and after the meal.

7. Stash the coats

Thanksgiving is in late November, and chilly weather is a possibility. Plan for an influx of coats, hats, and other seasonal gear when guests arrive. Yes, the bed is often the default destination for such items. There are other possibilities, like a rolling garment rack. You’ll find them at many stores, including Lowes, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

8. Keep the kids occupied

For how long will those young nieces and nephews sit contentedly with their hands in their laps? Your living space will feel more spacious if children are not chasing one another amid the festivities. Plan extra activities that appeal to kids and keep them occupied until dinner time. Consider crayons or colored pencils accompanied by large-sized sketch pads, for example.

9. Have fun!

Hosting Thanksgiving in a cozy space is more than rewarding. Cozy means close, and that’s often a plus. Your guests are grateful you’ve welcomed them into your home. Ultimately, it is the expression of gratitude, the camaraderie, and the memory-making that conquers all. Not everything has to be perfect. Trust that all the joy and love will carry the day.

Guest suites in Luxury Apartment Communities

Some apartment communities offer guest suites to accommodate visiting friends and relatives. Visitors are but an elevator ride away from the day’s festivities.

You’ll find guest suites offered at several Draper and Kramer residences, including Eleven Thirty. The luxury apartment high-rise is along Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s South Loop. Residents are steps from Grant Park, the museum campus, and Lake Michigan. Aspire and its guest suites are also in the South Loop. Interested in Chicago’s Gold Coast? 1350 North Lake Shore Drive offers guest suites. In Bronzeville, residents of Lake Meadows also enjoy access to guest suites.

Browse Draper and Kramer’s entire selection of luxury apartment properties today.

A family sits around a Thanksgiving table. A man has a child in his lap. People are talking and smiling. There is a lot of food on the table.

Hosting Thanksgiving in a cozy space is more than rewarding. Cozy means close, and that’s often a plus. Ultimately, it is the expression of gratitude, the camaraderie, and the memory-making that conquers all.

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