Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

Next week we will all gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. A delicious turkey dinner and hearts filled with gratitude punctuate this special holiday, and one so many of us look forward to every year. I’m an admitted  foodie, and ever since I was a child, have adored Thanksgiving. When I was a little girl, my mom always hosted Thanksgiving and one of our family’s signature sides was creamed corn. The recipe came from this fabulous restaurant in my home town – The Ritz – and we referred to it as “liquid gold.” The Ritz elegantly severed the cream corn in miniature copper skillets, and topped each one with a golden parmesan crust. We made it year after year, and I remember carefully stirring the soft white flour and rich butter to make a roux, and adding the velvety cream and sweet corn kernels. Ha, it wasn’t exactly healthy, but boy did it taste incredible!

We’re hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, and counting the days until our family arrives. This holiday season will be especially fun, as it’s our first Thanksgiving in our new house, and baby G is now old enough to join the family for dinner. My mom even surprised us with his very own engraved silver napkin ring!

For any of you hosting, you know that while it’s wonderful to invite loved ones into your home, it also takes a great deal of planning and preparation. Compiling menus and recipes, grocery shopping, setting the table, cooking, and then of course being a calm and collected host the day of – it’s a big job! Especially if you’re feeding a large group. Every year I like to post my holiday hosting tips to help you shine as your best self, and I hope you’ll find them as helpful as I do. Keep an eye out for tips for how to be a gracious guest later this week!

Quick Tips

THANKSGIVING HOSTING TIPS

•••

PLAN AHEAD! FROM THE MENU TO THE FLORALS TO TAKING AN INVENTORY OF YOUR SERVING PIECES AND DISHES, MAP OUT ALL OF THE DETAILS IN ADVANCE

CREATE A DAY-OF TIMELINE

WRITE OUT YOUR GROCERY LIST

SET THE TABLE A DAY OR TWO AHEAD

CELEBRATING WITH LOTS OF CHILDREN? CONSIDER A KIDS TABLE. 

CHECK WITH GUESTS ON DIETARY RESTRICTIONS BEFORE CREATING A MENU

NOT A COOK? ENLIST THE HELP OF A CATERER

USE PLACE CARDS. THIS WILL HELP GUESTS FEEL MORE AT EASE, AND ENCOURAGE GREAT CONVERSATION

PRINT OFF MENUS FOR EACH PLACE SETTING

CREATE YOUR FLORALS A DAY AHEAD

PARTY CRACKERS AT EACH PLACE SETTING ARE A FUN TREAT

IF SOMEONE OFFERS TO BRING A DISH OR WINE, TAKE THEM UP ON IT!

PREP THE POWDER ROOM

LIGHT CANDLES AND PLAY MUSIC TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL AMBIANCE

HAVE BEVERAGES AND APPETIZERS READY FOR YOUR GUESTS WHEN THEY ARRIVE

Quick Tips
Etiquette

No. 1

“WHEN ATTENDING A WEDDING, IT’S ALWAYS BETTER TO BE OVERDRESSED.”

Wedding Guest Attire Etiquette

1st Birthday Party for Baby Brother

 

We recently celebrated our youngest son’s first birthday, and had such a wonderful afternoon with family and close friends. I still can’t believe our baby just turned 1-year-old, where did the time go? A smiley and sweet little boy, G captured our hearts from the moment he arrived, and truly made our family complete. We love him more than words can describe! One my favorite parts of welcoming a second child into our family has been seeing the friendship form between C and G. They genuinely adore each other – albeit, even at this age they bicker 🙂 – and I’m so excited for the bond they will share. They will always be brothers, and I know they will always be great friends too.

I’d been dreaming about his first birthday party for months, as I knew it would be such a special time for our whole family. A time to honor the birthday boy, baby G, and a time to honor us, his parents, for making it through the first year – we did it! For any of you readers who have children, I’m sure you can relate to the exciting milestone that is the first birthday. While G won’t remember the party, it will be fun someday to show him pictures and share stories about the celebration.

On to the party details! Inspired by C’s first birthday, we held G’s party at our favorite neighborhood park, and kept it simple and sweet. Since G was born in the fall, we chose a “Our Little Pumpkin Is Turning 1 Theme”, and had the most adorable invitations created by our favorite paper designer, Lucy Murchison of Love Lucy Design. As always, she outdid herself with yet another charming and beautiful invitation filled with shadow pumpkins and a blue gingham background. As for decor, we covered the park’s picnic tables with powder blue table cloths and pumpkins of all sizes, and for a whimsical touch, tied blue gingham ribbons on the stem of each pumpkin. Blue and white balloon bouquets, pastel colored party hats, and orange and white striped napkins and plates added a fun pop of color to the tables. We also ordered a custom blue and white gingham “ONE” sign made for G’s high chair. At the party, children played on the park’s jungle gym and jumped in the bounce house, and guests enjoyed grilled hamburgers, chips and fruit skewers as well as vanilla birthday cake. Everyone took home a mini pumpkin too!

The party was a great success, and all of the guests had a fabulous time. As a hostess, I think there are always key learnings when you entertain, and this party was no exception. I learned yet again that while it’s so important to be organized and plan thoughtful details, it’s also important to relax and have fun. Ha, I’m still working on being a relaxed host! Maybe next year?!

Now that the boy’s birthday parties are behind us for the year, it’s on to the holidays. We’ll be hosting Thanksgiving this year, and we’re looking so forward to having our family in town. Keep an eye out for pictures of my tablescape on Instagram, and wishing everyone a great week ahead!

Advice
HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS

No. 2

“IT’S ALL ABOUT THE THOUGHTFUL DETAILS WHEN ENTERTAINING, SO CONSIDER LITTLE EXTRAS SUCH AS CUSTOM NAPKINS OR UNIQUE PARTY FAVORS.”

MORE SOCIAL ETIQUETTE TIPS

Carrot Zucchini Muffins

 

Like many families, we strive to eat healthy during the week and splurge with treats on the weekends. Of course I still whip up homemade meatballs and marinara sauce or lemon roasted chicken with croutons, however I always serve a mixed green salad and green vegetable on the side. Thankfully, both of the boys have been good eaters, enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches with sautéed spinach, smoothies, and fresh fruits. However, our preschooler recently decided that PB & raspberry jam sandwiches will suffice for all meals. Needless to say I’ve been plotting creative ways to add vegetables to his diet, and help reignite his love of healthy eating.

So how do I inspire said toddler to eat his veggies and healthy foods? I’ve noticed that he’s more likely to eat something if he’s prepared it himself, so I try to have him cook with me as much as possible, even if it’s a snack or something as simple as scrambled eggs. He loves to cook, so it’s such a fun activity for both of us. He helps measure, pour and mix the ingredients, and even cleans up after. Better yet, my brother surprised him with this kitchen helper, so he can safely stand at the counter and be my sous chef. If you don’t already have a kitchen helper, I highly recommend investing in one! It’s the perfect perch for little ones, and children can even use it at the sink to wash their hands. Not to mention the design is adorable with the cut-out shapes, and it folds up after each use or can be stored as is in a closet.

And so, I’m excited to share the recipe for one of our favorite baked goods that we make together – carrot zucchini muffins. Filled with nourishing carrots, zucchini, and almond flour, the muffins have a hint of sweetness from maple syrup and the warm flavor of cinnamon. They are incredibly delicious, and the perfect snack or accompaniment with lunch. I hope you’ll try them!

 

Carrot Zucchini Muffins

1 1/4 cup almond flour

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Next, sieve together the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (oil, syrup, and egg). Add the dry ingredients and gently mix. Add in the grated carrot and grated zucchini and mix until just combined. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.