Thursday, November 21, 2013

While the retail world is busy trying to convince us that Black Friday is the upcoming holiday, we can’t wait to gather around the family table for Thanksgiving dinner. At the heart of Thanksgiving is family, tradition, and gratitude, three things we absolutely treasure. Spending quality time with family, the traditions of setting the table and cooking family recipes, and letting gratitude fill our hearts – that’s what this holiday means to us.

Thanksgiving started as an autumn harvest feast, as you probably remember from your elementary school play when you had the exciting theatrical role of Pilgrim! And the feast remains the central aspect of the day, so it’s important to gather all your Thanksgiving dinner ideas and start menu planning early. So, whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving this year, we wanted to gather 5 Thanksgiving ideas to make your gathering a marvelous success!

1. Set the table: Thanksgiving entertaining starts with setting the table. Pull down your best plates and glasses from the cupboards and bring out serving bowls and platters. The dishes are an important element in setting the tone for the evening. And a beautiful Thanksgiving table deserves a pretty linen tablecloth or table runner (even a length of simple burlap will add a rustic autumn touch). Our last Thanksgiving dinner idea for setting the table? Cloth napkins and pinecone turkey place cards! This will make your guests feel they have been invited to a special Thanksgiving dinner with a host who has thought of every little detail.

2. Autumnal centerpieces: Elevate the elegance of your Thanksgiving table with a beautiful, autumn-inspired centerpiece! Using seasonal elements and fall florals is in keeping with a celebration of the harvest bounty, so create a centerpiece with in season flowers like dahlias, hydrangias, and amaranthus, or use the harvest as an inspiration with autumn gourds, squashes, and fall leaves. You can also opt to decorate with organic bounty from the farmer’s market with this DIY veggie centerpiece (and it’s edible too!)

3. Mix up Thanksgiving cocktails: If you really want to impress your guests, then this Thanksgiving dinner idea is for you. Grab your cocktail shaker and some seasonal ingredients because fall-inspired libations are a fun, thoughtful way to shake up Thanksgiving dinner! When guests arrive, offer to mix up a sparkling pear nectar mimosa  or fig thyme martini. Take a peek at our list of 8 autumn drinks for the season to see these two recipes and more!

4. A bountiful meal: When it comes to menu planning, you probably already have the traditional foods on your list: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. While conventional wisdom holds that Thanksgiving dinner isn’t a time to try out new recipes, we say why not add something unexpected to your traditional culinary rotation? For example, the vegetarians at the Thanksgiving dinner will love it if you try a new veggie dish with a fall twist, like brussel sprouts with citrus and pomegranate seeds! You can even put a zesty twist on serving the main star of the meal the way Emma from A Beautiful Mess did for her Friendsgiving! And while Thanksgiving purists would throw a fit if pumpkin pie didn’t make an appearance on the dessert table, a sweet potato pie or pumpkin cheesecake can be a sweet surprise at the end of the meal.

5. Gratitude: The Thanks in Thanksgiving: What are you grateful for? Once the table has been set, the centerpieces arranged, once you’ve mixed up the cocktails and carved the turkey, ask that everyone go around the table and say what they are most grateful for this year.

There comes a time during the celebration to curl up on the couch, blissful in a turkey and pie-inducted food coma, and simply relish in the spirit of the holiday! When you plan your Thanksgiving feast, be sure to shake up your typical menu and give your guests a meal to remember by including a delicious recipe from our Sugar & Spice holiday cookbook. Best wishes on your cooking endeavors!