Thanksgiving Prep Time!

My family takes Thanksgiving very seriously (aka my mother and I take it seriously and my family is along for the ride). Every year the guest list fluctuates, and I think some of the especially well attended years have really helped us lock down our process. We usually host out-of-towners (myself included) so hosting Thanksgiving means the Thursday meal, plus all the other meals that weekend, plus accommodations. The general plan is as follows (eye candy from Crate and Barrel):

Three Weeks Out

Pull together the guest list, and check in with any family or friends who are on the fence. It doesn’t have to be finalized but starting the conversation will help the planning process.

Scour Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and West Elm, etc. for Thanksgiving tablescape inspiration. This year I’m thinking a natural and/or metallic table runner (the walls of my parent’s dining room are metallic gold), with large hurricane candle holders and natural colored pillar candles. Plus some extra votives and fall flowers or branches. I try to repurpose things we have as much as possible, with a couple new items from Target on occasion.

Crate and Barrel Table Setting

Two Weeks Out

Start the list making! I pull together an Excel spreadsheet that has a few different lists:

  • Thanksgiving menu and family member responsibilities (everyone gets at least one item)
  • Make ahead items verse day of dishes
  • Groceries needed for Thanksgiving meal
  • Meal plan for the rest of the meals from Wednesday dinner through Saturday (especially if guests are staying a few days)
  • Groceries for the non-Thanksgiving meals

Take an inventory of plates, utensils, and table linens to make sure you have the correct amount. This gives us time to get everything clean and polished for the big day.

Crate and Barrel Table 2

One Week Out

Grocery shop for all non-perishables on your list, because you best believe there will be no cans of pumpkin left on the shelves on Wednesday! And if you can’t find something, you have time to check a couple more stores before the big day. Pick up perishables and the turkey as early as makes sense. Do not forget the turkey!

Crate and Barrel 5

Wednesday Before

Get going on the turkey prep if you’re not already defrosting.

Make all of your make ahead items. For us that includes the cranberry sauce, some mis en place, one or two pies (Mom makes three), one or two flavors of ice cream (Mom makes two or three), and any extra baked goods for the weekend such as cookies and pumpkin bread.

Buy flowers for the table and the house, and set the table. We try to use a local florist, but sometimes Whole Foods is a better bet on busy holidays. Make sure you have your game face on if you brave Whole Foods on Wednesday!

Set the table.

Crate and Barrel 4

Thanksgiving Day

Game time! Get the turkey in the oven, and make the rest of the dessert items in the morning. Let everyone know what their assignments are, and start knocking out the side dishes! Some things will go smoothly and some will inevitably not go smoothly. That’s what makes for good stories for years to come!

Crate and Barrel 3

Are you ready for Turkey Day?

The Highly Overrated Valentine’s Day

With or without a beau, I always have a fantastic Valentine’s Day.  It’s just another excuse to make sure you have fun!  Last year, I was taken out for dinner and given a bouquet of roses.  The typical Valentine’s tradition was placed upon me for the first time and I can confidently say that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.  Ladies, do yourself a favor and make sure you have a man who can come up with something a little more creative to captivate your attention.  I have a feeling that I’m going to have more fun this year with my 7 year-old friend, Fionna, who I am watching over the weekend.  I have made plans to take her to Lowe’s on Saturday morning for their kid’s workshop, give her a Jamberry manicure, bake cookies, dance around the house, craft a heart puzzle wreath, and to go to see Paddington.  Sometimes it’s freeing (and let’s not forget exhausting) to be a kid again.

Needless to say, I have the house all decorated for our Valentine’s festivities.  Hopefully they will inspire you to get into the spirit.

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I used mini cupcake liners to hold these candlesticks into place.
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I often use cake stands and swatches of fabric to decorate tabletops.
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I keep my Christmas tree up and decorate it with hearts.
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I’m constantly changing the decor on my Hoosier. I got the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie as a Christmas present and now display it on a cookbook holder.

Tonight, I am taking the Valentine’s theme to a party at the VIM thrift shop where I volunteer. We’re hosting a ladies’ night for heart awareness month. We’re having blood pressure checks and giving tips on keeping your heart healthy. We have to have snacks that are a little more health conscious than I would normally make. I whipped up some marshmallow treats made with Cheerios.  I also gave myself a heart friendly manicure with my new Jamberries!

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Cheerio Marshmallow Treats
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Jamberry Manicure
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Cupcakes for Fionna

Christmas Time is Here!

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It’s been a busy month for Sadie and I.  We have been getting ready for Christmas…baking, decorating, and enjoying the festivities.  Sadie and I were able to spend a weekend with our friend in the DC area since Sadie conveniently lives in Arlington, VA.  The pictures above are from our day in DC.

Meanwhile, back in Jersey I am all set for Christmas with one day to spare.  I literally just finished wrapping presents for my family. Getting ready for Christmas is a long process.  I always decorate the house Thanksgiving weekend, shop for gifts Cyber Monday and the rest of that week, bake cookies the next week, and then finish tying up any lose ends the last week before wrapping up the season of shopping literally!  I’m currently sitting in my winter wonderland (pictures below) and watching the sappy Hallmark Christmas movies.  I have already watched a few of my holiday movie staples (The Holiday, The Family Stone, and Love Actually).  Have a holly jolly Christmas everyone!

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