Hosting during the holidays can mean a lot of pressure. I’ve often been tempted to throw parties that appear to be out of Pinterest board, complete with hand-caligraphed menus and well-behaved children delicately eating off family heirloom china. But, since my husband spends most of the year traveling for work, it’s a rare moment we get to have both our families together. We didn’t want to spoil the joy of actually being with the people we love by fussing over inconsequential details. Instead, we have opted for what we lovingly call, Thanksgiving Picnic.


We will be hosting 17 wonderful people into our 800-square-foot studio apartment for Thanksgiving this Thursday. I will be resisting my stylist instincts, horrifying my grandmother, and serving Thanksgiving dinner on paper plates. After hearing this, my mother called me. She expressed concern that paper plates won’t possibly hold up to a meal of Thanksgiving proportions. My husband and I put rocks and pumpkins on a few test plates and practiced carrying them from the counter to the table. They hold up fine.


To accommodate so many hungry people in our space, I plan to rearrange all the furniture and create the biggest open space possible. This includes using our shower as a temporary storage space and putting our daughters crib on our bed.


We plan to serve all of the traditional American favorites: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pie. However, both my husband and I are Latin American so there’s no such meal without rice and beans, so we’ve added those in, too.

We’re skipping the formal table setting and opting for a buffet set up on Ikea cubes. I’ll set up two tables: our kitchen table and a borrowed picnic table and adults can sit where they like. The children and teenagers will sit on a large muslin fabric on the floor. I plan to just scoop that up and throw it away when dinner has ended.

thanksgivingpicnic_rawturkey_tripletsA shoes-off, no-china Thanksgiving will allow us to actually be able to soak in all we are grateful for, and not worry so much about wrangling 8-year-old triplets into fine dining. Will ten things go wrong? YES! Will I regret the decision to use my shower as a coat room when my one-year-old is covered in mashed potatoes? ALSO PROBABLY YES! But I’m going to do my best to enjoy this makeshift meal, these lovely people, and to stay in the spirit of gratitude.

—Mira Keras

If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

One thought on “Stressed? Throw an Easygoing Thanksgiving Picnic

  1. I love the the inclusion of having everyone together despite the space.
    After a Christmas Eve wedding in our family and knowing that local restaurants were closed on Christmas day, we held Christmas Dinner for 55 out of town people in our small home( about 1000 sq.ft. on main floor). Fortunately ,we had steps leading to second level. This is where many of the children sat. There were wall to wall chairs and limited walk space for anyone who wanted “seconds”. We did use plastic plates due to moisture issues with gravy and some veggies.Everyone had a delightful time, including one grandmother who was in a wheelchair.It’s the love and inclusion that are remembered!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *