Make Guests Feel at Home during the Holidays

Each year since we lived in San Diego we have served Thanksgiving at our house. Our tables were set in an apartment in California for just the two of us and my sister, for a table full of Marines in our house in Yemen, and for a table crowded with family with high chairs and messy faced babies in New York.

I spent some time today looking back at all of the photos from those Novembers, all the way back to 2002. My taste (both in food and decorating) has changed but what remains is a love for this holiday and the way it brings people special to us to our table.

Here is the cheese log we made in Yemen with cheese I ordered online for the occasion. For some reason this seems so funny to me looking back at it.

Here was our cheese and appetizer setting a few years ago when we served nuts as an accompaniment to the cheese instead of rolling it in them!

As the years passed, the Thanksgiving table and cheese became less of the focus and my photos started to show the faces of the people who joined us saying cheese. My parents have traveled to Switzerland, North Carolina, and now Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with us and I'm so thankful they're able. No holiday decorating, no side dishes or desserts, no place setting matters to me as much as the feeling of having my family spend that time together.

Because we travel to visit family so often, I know how it feels to be a guest in someone's home. Clean and comfortable rooms are great but what always stands out are the little gestures that make them feel relaxed and welcome. Instead of trying to make my home into a hotel, my favorite way to welcome guests is to help them feel like my home is home.

We all know how it feels to need something in the kitchen at someone else's home. If the host is preparing a meal, it can be uneasy to ask them for something. To prevent that in my house, I used these little chalkboard stickers and labeled the most important cabinets in the kitchen!

Labeling doors like the coat closet or the kitchen cabinets to save someone from opening them all in search of one thing is easy, quick, and a nice touch.

Labeling your doors is a way of not just saying 'please help yourself' but actually helping the guests to do so.

No one wants to be the first one awake and not know where to find the coffee!

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