hosting for the holidays

Image from  Remain Simple blog . 

Image from Remain Simple blog

21 days til Thanksgiving! That reality might cause you excitement, panic or any feeling in between. We want to encourage a spirit of "intentionality" instead of "perfection" this holiday season. Think about being a guest in your own home this year: what do you notice, how did you feel, what was the focus? We're sharing a few practical and thoughtful ideas to create an intentional holiday gathering this week. 

Intention: your guests will see it, taste it, feel it and enjoy it. 

While there are so many moving pieces to coordinate for the Thanksgiving meal to be ready, one thing you can have prepared ahead of time for guests to enjoy upon arrival is a festive cocktail. Make it in a large batch so you aren't spending time making individual mixed drinks. Don't forget to mix up a batch without alcohol. Take a look at this recipe

Image from  The Kitchn blog . 

Image from The Kitchn blog

In order to plan well, the host needs to know the amount of people they'll be serving. Send a text or email out 2 weeks in advance to get an accurate number of guests. Take a look at this helpful chart about servings and quantities for the size of your group. 

Don't go crazy with seasonal decor. Less is more! Instead of shopping for hours for the "perfect" centerpiece or tablecloth, look outside. Bring some natural elements in to create a rustic and welcoming table. Include your kids as you gather leaves, branches, or greenery from your yard. Lighting and natural elements will create a warm and inviting ambiance for your table

If you prefer a later Thanksgiving meal, someone is sure to be hungry before meal time. Whether it be your children, new acquaintances or yourself- these cranberry brie mini tarts are a beautiful appetizer that won't require additional dishes or silverware to serve and enjoy. If cooking one more thing feels like an unbearable burden, grab some cheese & crackers and have these out to snack on. 

Image from  Fox and Briar blog.  

Image from Fox and Briar blog. 

Shift the focus outward. Your Thanksgiving table can be the launching point for a group investment in a local cause. There are so many ways to give back in our community. Take a look at this list of specific avenues to give of yourself this holiday season in Knoxville.

With just a pencil and paper, your feast can get a lot richer. Challenge your family or friends to take a moment to write out the things you are thankful for. If you want to go a little deeper, try sharing one or two of your items on your list. Gratitude begets gratitude and the thoughts shared around the table will create memories and meaningful moments.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving decor ideas, organizational tools, and traditions with us. How does your family or community celebrate?  

The Slow Life

Help You Dwell sat down with Ashley Addair this week to talk about simple living. Ashley is an established artist living in Knoxville with her husband, two children, the occasional dog, and sporadic out of town guests. To give you a bit of background, Ashley and family have spent the last year or so living a bit nomadic-ally while her husband gutted and rebuilt their home. (Which incidentally used to be a neighborhood grocery store) Their newly finished home is truly a work of art in itself. Ashley is a wonderful thinker and writer and one of her recent blog entries about her entry way inspired us to ask her about her approach to her home and lifestyle.

Tell me a little bit about what simple living means to you.

A: In this season I'm learning a lot about letting things be as they are. I'm trying to live out the tension of facilitating change and evolving but at the same time, accepting things as they are; not fighting the chaos of life. I'm trying to posture myself in a way that allows for finding beauty in that chaos and letting that be enough. 

That is such a refreshing answer. On a practical level, do you have any habits or routines that help you accomplish and maintain that simple posture?

A: I recently read a haiku that said "To make a home, start in one corner- Make that yours. Work outwards, slowly." I'm trying to take that and practice "looking smaller". I'm picking little things, small corners that I can work on and letting the rest go. I'm endeavoring to let things evolve without me and it's helping me notice natural rhythms and the beauty of observing from a distance. Basically, I'm working on becoming increasingly slow: on letting life wash over me and recognizing that slow is the gift of this season. I'm becoming more okay with embracing limitations. In a very literal sense, I've picked one corner of the yard and one corner of the kitchen to focus on and I'm venturing to let the rest go. 

One of the hardest parts of simplifying is letting go of all the "stuff". You seem to have a really healthy detachment to "things". Tell me about that.

A: I have moved around a lot over the course of my life. I've found that there is a gift in traveling light. Honestly, at this point having kids has forced me to recon with the fact that things will get messed up and broken. In general, I try to let things be meaningful without being attached to them.

You can meet Ashley and purchase her art at our pop up market on May 3rd from 11-6. We hope to see you there!

Caroline & Taryn