As a former event planner, near-constant party thrower, and editor of a website that’s published hundreds of stories about entertaining through the years, you could say that my approach to gatherings has evolved quite a bit from where it was in my early twenties. Like, a night and day difference. Looking back at the elaborate table scapes I’d design for my clients, or the blog posts about “how to throw the perfect party,” and even elements of my first book, I can’t help but giggle over how much simpler and more low-key my approach to get-togethers has become.

Let me be clear: this is not meant to knock the Martha Stewarts out there who love to impress their guests with perfectly set place settings and extravagant 5-course meals — if doing those things brings you joy, then tablescape and soufflé to your hearts content. But for me, when I look back on the years when that was my goal, I realize I was trying to fulfill an unrealistic expectation that I thought others had for me.

Now I realize it was me putting that pressure on myself, since others generally feel more relaxed (and actually have more fun) in the presence of someone who doesn’t take life too seriously.

As I’ve learned to embrace imperfection and authenticity in myself, that attitude has extended to the gatherings I host… and my goal now is that when people walk through my front door, they feel they can bring their most authentic selves to the table, too. When we own our flaws and insecurities, others feel a deeper, more genuine connection — and I’ve learned that a true sense of connection is what separates a great party from one that’s easily forgettable.

November feels like the start of the World Series of entertaining, with fall get-togethers, out-of-town family visits, all culminating in Thanksgiving… and then sliding right into the frenzied pace of December holidays.

With that in mind, our editorial theme for this month is GATHER. As schedules get busy and pressures build, our focus will stay on what really matters this season: gathering friends and family together for good conversation, delicious meals, and heart-centered, soul-nourishing connection.

From crowd-pleasing pot luck recipes to tips on cozying up your home for the season and the exact recipes I’m making this Thanksgiving… we’ve got tons of inspiration and stress-free tips coming your way. But if you want to get a jump start on embracing the less-is-more spirit we’re bringing to holiday gatherings this year, here are a few resources I’d highly recommend checking out this weekend:

Wabi-Sabi Welcome: Learning to Embrace the Imperfect and Entertain with Thoughtfulness and Ease

This is one of my favorite books ever, and I return to it whenever I want to gather friends in a way that’s beautiful, simple, and goes beyond the small talk to create an atmosphere of genuine connection.

TED Talk: How Can We Create More Meaning in Our Gatherings?

Priya Parker shares practical tips on how we can turn everyday get-togethers into powerful experiences. It’s about how we can be more intentional, whether we’re the host or the guest.

Our new playlist on Spotify!

Music is an incredibly powerful tool in bringing people together, and our resident DJ, Jamie Pabst, has curated beats for this month that will do just that. You’ll have it on repeat.

*photos by kristen kilpatrick and jacqueline marque

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