How to host Thanksgiving like the Charleston-based couple behind Basic Projects

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Welcome back to Party People, our new series about how to plan, throw, and attend parties properly—as told by folk who know how to get down like it’s their job (and for some, it actually is). From entertaining extraordinaires to A-list attendees, they’re divulging all the details on how to turn a so-so social situation into a can’t-miss carouse. 

Today we’re talking with Kate and Ben Towill—the couple behind in-demand Charleston, South Carolina-based hospitality brand Basic Projects—about one of our favorite fall-time occasions: Thanksgiving. The very talented pair invited us into their cozy, coastal tavern and inn, Post House, to tell us about their most treasured family traditions, their signature after-dinner drinks, and the serveware their table isn’t complete without.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how to host Thanksgiving like a hospitality pro—or you’ve fantasized about having someone else wash all your Thanksgiving dishes for you—read on.

How to host Thanksgiving with Kate and Ben Towill

Plate of mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey, cranberries, and stuffing on a Thanksgiving table.
Image courtesy of Basic Projects.


It’s never too late to start a new tradition

We always try to go for a big morning beach walk with the kids and family in town before tucking into all the goodies the evening brings. Since we’ve owned Post House, we’ve spent the last two Thanksgivings there. The location of Post House is so charming, especially during the holidays—the Inn is located in the historic neighborhood of Old Village, right along the Charleston Harbor. We usually get an early table with the whole family and start with cocktails and small bites, then a delish dinner from our chef. We leave full and happy, and no dishes is certainly a perk, too! [Ed. note: click here for more Southern Thanksgiving charm.]


Don’t underestimate a perfect pairing


Left: Bottle of opened white wine next to a lit taper candle on the Thanksgiving table. Right: Party invitation that reads "Let's Get Basted" on a turkey.
Image courtesy of Basic Projects; “Basted” by John Derian for Paperless Post.


Once we’re ready to roll into entrees, we never miss an opportunity to ask our in-house Wine Director about the latest selection of wines she has available—there’s even a cellar underneath the main dining room that most people don’t know about. During the holidays, the team makes them available for neighbors to pick-up through specially curated takeout packages.


Make sure your guests feel appreciated


Light brown Thanksgiving table set with plates, utensils, turkey, drinks, and flowers in a room with large windows.
Image courtesy of Basic Projects.


We like to lay a special table with name cards and little things for all the guests. A hot host tip my mom started is she gets everyone a Christmas ornament wrapped at their place setting, and each ornament represents them in some way. Our Christmas tree is FULL each Christmas now! It’s the best kind of tree.


Set your table with things you love


Left: Kate Towill putting red and orange flowers in a vase on her Thanksgiving table, which is also filled with food, wine, and taper candles. Right: Invitation that reads, "Please join us for a gathering of family, friends, and food to celebrate Thanksgiving."
Image courtesy of Basic Projects; “Milla” by Lisa Corti for Paperless Post.


I love to have fun with the table setting, mixing old and new items, and always lots of candles. Two of my dear friends are behind PORTA, a beautiful European tableware and assorted home furnishings brand based in Brooklyn, NY. They offer the most amazing pieces from craftsmen and artisans all over the world.


Serve a signature cocktail


Glass of grapefruit gin and tonic on table with another drink, surrounded by stuffing, green beans, and cranberries.
Image courtesy of Basic Projects.


We serve a grapefruit gin and tonic using a fabulous gin called Two If By Sea, made especially for our restaurants from a local distilling company, High Wire. It has a vibrant flavor profile with notes of local citrus and foraged botanicals (think Satsumas and Meyer lemons).


Keep it real—really

We are very intentional with the spaces we create. We want everything to feel authentic, not too fussy. Whether it’s a guest’s first time staying at the Inn or a regular at one of our restaurants, we strive to create an atmosphere that is inviting and comfortable to everyone who walks through our doors. The staff across all three restaurants play a huge part in this, and we are lucky enough to work with some of the best in the business.


Left: Invitation card for a Thanksgiving Feast that is decorated with orange pumpkins and green gourds. Right: Thanksgiving table set with food, drinks, taper candles, and flowers.
“Vine Labyrinth” by Paperless Post; Image courtesy of Basic Projects.


Keep the party going with drinks and dancing

We’re big fans of the classic name game during dessert, and an after-dinner cocktail—we have one I love at our new restaurant by the beach, Sullivan’s Fish Camp, called Jamaican Coffee. It’s made with rum and coffee, shaken over ice. Also, if you’re at home, turn the tunes up and dance while you do the dishes!


Keep your doors and heart open

Keep the guest list interesting. We love the stragglers and always say the more the merrier. Put the older kids next to grown ups. What an amazing holiday centered only around breaking bread.

Hot Thanksgiving takes with Kate and Ben Towill of Basic Projects

It’s not Thanksgiving without: Apple Pie.

Thanksgiving dish that should be retired: I feel like the traditional green bean casserole could use a major update – the whole dish comes from cans! But some people love it, to each his own 🙂 

The best part of Thanksgiving is… not doing dishes since we eat at Post House!


Left: Plate that reads "Post House" with sirloin and cream sauce on top of it, along with green beans. Right: Plate that reads "Post House" with turkey, green beans, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and stuffing along with a glass of wine and a red cocktail.
Images courtesy of Basic Projects.


Thanks, Kate and Ben! 

Now that you know how to host Thanksgiving like a professional, it’s time to find the perfect Thanksgiving invitation. Read about even more unique Thanksgiving dinner ideas, and then choose the best Thanksgiving invitation wording for your own one-of-a-kind party.



Browse Thanksgiving Invitations