'They're such faux pas!' - 5 common Thanksgiving mistakes experts hosts urge you to avoid

When it comes to Thanksgiving etiquette, the best hosts will never make any of these common errors

thanksgiving tablescape
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thanksgiving celebrations are just around the corner, and excitement to gather with family and friends once more is certainly building. However, if you're hosting, that also comes with pressure, and with so much going on it can be easy to make some common mistakes. 

After you have spent so much time searching for modern dining room ideas, creating beautiful tablescapes, and slaving away in the kitchen, it's only normal to forget something. Even the most well-versed hosts struggle to remember everything, but some key mistakes should always be avoided. 

To find out what they are, we've spoken to some expert hosts who walk us through the five mistakes everyone should be extra cautious they avoid. We can't promise your day will go without hiccups (or a bit of family drama), but following these steps will certainly leave your guests thinking you're the perfect host.

1. Overpowering the room

A Christmas candle

(Image credit: Fermliving)

One of the most important Thanksgiving tips from the experts is to ensure you don't overpower the room. It can be tempting to go over the top during the holidays but this can take away from your overall ambiance. Scent and sound are two that were consistently picked out as things people frequently go overboard with when hosting, and they can be serious hosting faux pas.

'Having music that's overly loud, is the first thing people will get turned off by,' says interior designer, Bilal Rehman. 'Similarly, you don't want a super crazy heavy fragrance that feels like you have walked into Bath and Body Works if you are trying to have a more sophisticated grown-up dinner.'

Music and scent play an important role in setting the tone for a dinner party and Thanksgiving is no different. Try to avoid overpowering your space sounds of scents as it will take away from your overall aesthetic. Instead, opt for subtle music and fragrance to set the scene. 'Music should be there to create the mood but dissipate into the background,' Bilal explains. 'Opt for soft instrumental sounds and always check the level is low enough to allow for conversation.' 

As for scent, there are many ways to make your home smell like fall. Generally, fresh cinnamon and vanilla never miss, and natural-scented candles can also make your home smell gorgeous. The synthetic substitutes don't even come close so avoid them at all costs.

2. Running out of utensils

Thanksgiving decor ideas

(Image credit: Lisa Corti)

Every host's worst nightmare is running out of the essentials. A beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape is nothing if your guests can't plate and eat the food around it. After you've stocked the fridge full of cranberry sauce, the next essential to check is utensils and serving spoons.

'When serving so many dishes on this holiday, it's easy to run out of the normal serving utensils you have on hand,' says interior decorator and owner of Viv and Tim Home, Vivianne Chow. They're quite often overlooked but utensils are quite possibly the most important item on the table. 

Vivianne recommends checking your supplies before the big day to ensure you don't get caught short with a load of hungry people staring at the table. 'You won't regret buying a versatile serving utensil set that includes plenty of tongs and serving spoons and forks,' she says.

3. Oversized floral arrangements

A fall table with glimmers of gold

(Image credit: Lisa Corti)

Flowers are an amazing way to scent your home naturally, however, they can also take over your space. When visiting the florist it can be tempting to bring home an impressive centerpiece full of gorgeous flowers and foliage home, or even forage for big branches yourself from your backyard, but this would be a mistake. 

No one wants to be having a conversation over a bunch of flowers, so keep this in mind when arranging your table. 'When creating a tablescape you’ll want to make sure any floral centerpieces are not too tall,' says Vivianne. Don't worry if you're reading on the big day itself, currently regretting all the flowers you have bought. Centerpieces can be moved onto side tables to contribute to the decor without obstructing anyone's view, and store-bought flowers can be trimmed. Vivianne recommends trimming all flowers and checking them individually to ensure they don't take over the table.

4. Overcrowding the table

Using nature on your tablescape

(Image credit: Sarah K)

We know less is more is a redundant cliché when it comes to the holidays, but hear us out. Going over the top with décor might actually take away from the effectiveness of the space, not to mention, make it more difficult to move around and enjoy yourself.

'Don't overcrowd spaces,' says interior designer and founder of Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky. 'I like to a for a minimalistic look with a traditional-modern mix which still retains its charm,' he advises. It might be tempting to go heavy on the Thanksgiving table decor, but having a more refined tablescape without the overly themed table centerpiece will allow plenty of space for drinks and food, and create a more relaxed atmosphere for your guests to enjoy.

5. Leaving things to the day

One of the biggest pieces of advice all our expert hosts swear by is not doing anything major on the day. 'Prep and cook everything you can in advance so you are not overwhelmed,' says interior designer Soledad Alzaga. 'Thanksgiving is about spending time with loved ones so having everything prepped and organized gives you more time to spend with family and guests.'

Ahead of the big day make a cooking schedule so you know what to do when, preparing as much as possible ahead of time. You should also organize the house for guests, preparing guest bedrooms as necessary. 'The powder room or bathroom to be used by guests should be uncluttered of personal items and stocked with a fresh towel and hand soap,' says Soledad. 

All of these warnings aren't here to scare you - preparation will help to make the day go smoothly, but the most important rule of all is to enjoy it. 'Avoid getting stressed and don't worry if things don't go to plan,' Soledad advises. Take the opportunity to relish the company of your family and friends and give thanks for the year that has been.

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.