turkeyReady or not, summer has officially ended and fall has begun. As the holiday fundraiser season approaches, thoughts turn toward preparing for gatherings of family and friends … but for many, this is when a busy life is made even busier and more stressful. You can help alleviate some of the crush of the holidays and help foster a sense of community while getting the word out about your organization by hosting a Thanksgiving feast for everyone.

Plan to begin selling tickets four to six weeks in advance of the event date; this will help you get a good ballpark figure on how many guests to prepare for. Be sure to identify and secure a large enough dining hall and enough plates/tableware to accommodate the number of guests you expect to attend, and base your food estimates accordingly if your group will be preparing the meal yourselves. Look to grocers, party supply stores and florists in your area for donations of foods, plates and table centerpieces. (On the other hand, you may want to consider working with a caterer to help you keep the meal planning as worry-free as possible.)

Starting the dinner off with a social hour and live entertainment, such as a popular local music group, is a great way to help your guests relax and settle in without waiting restlessly for the meal to be served. During the social hour, hold a silent auction or a raffle drawing with prizes donated by local businesses and announce the winners just prior to serving the meal.

Turkey is the star of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and its supporting players – stuffing, candied yams, jellied cranberry, creamy mashed potatoes and steamed green beans – are just a few of the many, many side dishes that find their way onto millions of American tables. Crudités, chips and dips, and cheese platters and crackers are tasty appetizers. Depending on your budget, you can provide different options, such as a vegetarian meal (luscious, cheesy lasagna, anyone?) or gluten- or dairy-free side dishes or desserts, for broader appeal. Don’t forget dessert: Slices of pumpkin or apple pie, brownies and other sweet treats are practically requirements for rounding out a Thanksgiving dinner.

Best wishes for your community feast and holiday fundraiser! Try out our Thanksgiving-themed ticket templates to help you make tickets for your own Holiday feast.

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