Thanksgiving Celebrates What Everyone Brings to the Table

Thanksgiving celebrates what everyone brings to the table: good food, love, laughter, and thankful hearts.

If you haven’t planned your menu, now’s the time. One tip I learned from a friend many years ago was, once you have your menu planned, copy and staple the recipes together (I like to add the year on top) and file away for the next year. It makes menu planning much easier, especially if they are your favorite recipes. Of course you can also create a file on your computer and do the same thing.

TIP: If you love to read cookbooks, create a “Holiday Menu” journal where you jot down your favorite recipes, the cookbook they are in, and the page number for easy reference.

Are you serving a pre-dinner soup? Remember there’s still time to win $100, and you can try my Sweet Pumpkin and Barley Sage Soup.

Brining a turkey is a wonderful way to enhance its juiciness and flavor, but it seems that the process is intimidating … until you actually do it and taste the difference.

Here’s my brine recipe. Yummy!

TIP: If you’re really in a bind, you can buy turkey brine “blends,” by rushing in to your local Williams Sonoma. So easy!

Don’t forget to ask your guests to help by bringing what you need them to bring. Planning a Thanksgiving meal (especially for a large crowd) is a lot of work. Write out the menu, figure out what YOU want to make, and then fill in the slots by asking your guests to contribute.

TIP: Make sure your guests know what time you plan to serve dinner. Make it clear if you want them their contribution “table ready” or if there’s time to prepare it in your kitchen. IE: green beans or salad.

Write out (I love having a plan!) and prepare as much as you can the day or two before Thanksgiving. I’ll be baking my sweet potatoes the day before, cooking, chopping, involving my family as much as I can.

Here are a few of my side-dish favorites:

Easy Sweet Potatoes (recipe in my book) :)
Smashed Potatoes, Parsnips and Rutabaga
Sweet Potato Cran-Apple Gratin
Brussels Sprouts Braised with Cream and Dates
Fresh Green Beans
Carrot Souffle

Last year I made Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples, but I added cranberries, too. Oh, boy! Check out Pioneer Woman’s step-by-step recipe.

I’m going to leave desserts up to Tidy Mom. Check out her 3rd Annual “Love the Pie” party. If you scroll down, you’ll find hundreds of pie recipes!

Thanksgiving is pie, wouldn’t you agree?

TIP: Think ahead to a separate place, possibly outside of your kitchen, where you can display the desserts. They are usually so beautiful, it’s enjoyable to walk into the dining or living room to see them displayed on a buffet, top of a piano, or a table.

Lastly, set the table. Friends, it’s not too early to be thinking about a welcoming table for your guests. My suggestion is to simplify. Make your table receptive by only adding the dishes you need, not cluttery and crammed with excessive dishes. Head to the great outdoors to bring nature in.

TIP: A low-line centerpiece makes conversation much easier than having to look around pillars and over-the-top flower arrangements.

Last year I journaled a 4-part Thanksgiving guidelines post, so if you feel you’re behind, you can catch up here:

Week 1: Stress-Free Thanksgiving – Invite, Plan, and Delegate
Week 2: Stress-Free Thanksgiving – Organize your Recipes & Shopping Lists
Week 3: Stress-Free Thanksgiving – Space, Table, & Turkey Planning
Week 4: Stress Free Thanksgiving – Write Out Chores, Include the Family

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? Are you feeling stressed or right on schedule? Or, if you are not hosting this year, what are you bringing to the table?

The winner of the Harry and David basket is Andrea from Recipes for Divine Living.

12 comments on “Thanksgiving Celebrates What Everyone Brings to the Table”

  1. We are ready! This year I am including cypress branches and motives in old tart tins…so that it transitions right into Christmas. It will be simple and elegant. happy thanksgiving!

  2. I agree Thanksgiving is Pie! and I will be making 34 of them this year! and hosting. My family does not like the menu messed with it’s the same every year, that makes it easy.

  3. I’ve never brined a turkey before, but you make it sound so good. I may, however, be heading off to WS to get the shortcut method…!

  4. It’s almost here. Wonder if I have time to lose a few pounds first?

  5. What a great series and the tips are terrific! I keep a cooking notebook year-round with the recipes I’ve made and the book & page number. On the other side of the sheet is my shopping list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred back to it…it’s a lifesaver!

  6. I am not hosting this year. We are heading to my inlaws house. My MIL loves to host holidays and we usually go ahead and let her. Every once in awhile I will host. We do Christmas Eve and morning breakfast at our house.

    I am bringing rolls (I found some yummy tasting herb rolls at costco), an appetizer (not decided yet), and a broccoli side dish (casserole with a puff pastry topping).

  7. We always tend to do more pies than needed. One of my favorite childhood memories of Thanksgiving is at my great aunt & uncle’s house the bed in the spare bedroom being covered with pies.

  8. Sandy, I heard about your blog via Moody Radio Chicago, and I love your approach to entertaining…It’s inspiring! The food looks so delicious and I’ve shared some of the recipes with my family. My family brines our turkeys and those pie recipes look delish.

    I’m not hosting Thanksgiving but I wanted to share your laid back ideas with more readers. Do I have your permission to use a photo from your blog in my article?

    Here is the link:

    Thanks for reminding us that Thanksgiving is about being thankful and welcoming others.

  9. Oh Sandy! What lovely recipes. Everything looks so delicious. And yes, I’m with you. I love to place all my desserts together in a special place. We always eat in our kitchen…including holidays because I have a large table there…and there’s a fireplace too! :-) It always makes me feel so colonial (even though I live in Texas…LOL!) Then, I use the dinning room table as the dessert table. Everyone wanders into the dinning room scoping out what they plan to have for dessert as they walk through that room on their way to the kitchen!



  10. Love the idea of having the desserts displayed =
    Thanksgiving is coming alone great- my son and brother and their families will be sharing with us this year- and each has been assigned a different part of the meal- so Happy Day…it will be super easy for me this year.
    Have my table centerpiece planned= {using things from my yard.}
    Thanks for all your great ideas
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. For years now I’ve been keeping a journal of meals served on special occasions – a dinner party, a BBQ, a shower, Christmas, etc. In the journal I write down the guests names, who brought what (if it’s a potluck), the menu and where I found the recipes. It’s helped me keep track of the dishes that were a hit and those that I won’t repeat. Plus when you’re like me and hosting the same parties every year, it’s nice to reflect back on what you’ve made for whom each year – that way there is no accidental repeats of “that favorite” dessert or appetizer.

  12. Sandy, I’ve wanted to brine my turkey for a couple of years but just have been nervous about it…I’m determined to do it this year but was reading on another site that the bird must be fresh….it cannot be a frozen turkey…have you found that to be true?

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