Seasons greetings!  I hope your Thanksgiving was stress-free and full of starches!  I had the privilege of hosting my first turkey-day bonanza, and I have to was pretty easy.  I was in charge of the bird (yes, me, the vegetarian...I buttered that thing up Paula Dean-style and added some homemade rosemary salt & sage), and I made a few sides while friends and family brought the rolls, potatoes, mac&cheese, green been casserole, and vino!

A few days prior to Thanksgiving, I made a run to Williams-Sonoma, which is (partly) why the day went so smooth.  I picked up a jar of the cranberry relish, a box of whole wheat harvest stuffing, a jar of gravy base, and their holiday catalog for table-scape inspiration.  Because I had never made any of these items before, I didn't want to mess them up for the big day (the bird was enough of a "first-time" experience for me), so this was all pretty fool-proof.  The day before, I slow-roasted a batch of carrots/parsnips/and onions. The day of, I made sweet potato casserole (my mother-in-law's recipe), and followed the directions on my box of stuffing.  

ALSO, I whipped up a batch of napkins from scrap fabric I had laying around, and I saw these teeny-tiny pears at the grocery store to use as placecards–cute and edible!  I hand-stamped each person's name on a piece of card stock and tied them to the pears with a piece of twine.  

A few things I learned along the way:

  1.  A big chip/dip platter works well as a serving platter for turkey and cranberry sauce (see bottom right picture).  I didn't have a "serving platter" per se, BUT, I did have a silvery chip/dip set.  Easy!
  2. Don't bother with setting water glasses/wine glasses on the table–it takes up so much space (see pictures...)!  We made a drink station at one end of the kitchen counter, which worked really well.
  3. Get enough serving utensils–lucky for us, the spoons in our every-day flatware are HUGE, so we used them for everything.  Next year, I will certainly invest in another set or two of actual serving utensils.
  4. Timing ISN'T everything.  We told guests that we would eat within a window (1.5 hours) and set plenty of snacks out for them (artichoke/spinach dip, blue crab dip, crackers, fruit, etc).  This way, we weren't stressing out about getting everything finished on time, and we were able to enjoy socializing without worrying about any timing expectations.
  5. Clean as you cook.  If you have limited sink/counter/dishwasher space, you HAVE to do this–really, the turkey is in for a few have plenty of time to clean up, so no excuses!  Our clean-up afterwards took mere minutes.

All in all, everything turned out great!  And did I mention that we had Wick's Sugar Cream Pie for dessert?!  I was so happy to get the chance to host the holiday, and I am so thankful for each and every person who joined us.  Next up: CHRISTMAS!  

Oh, and happy Cyber Monday!