I have only hosted Thanksgiving a handful of times but my very favorite part is to decorate. You don't have to spend a lot of money but the extra effort to make it beautiful creates the home for the holiday cozy feeling we all love!
If you're hosting, most likely you have a couple close friends and family members who aren't hosting that year that can lend you some of their favorite things. Last year my sweet mother in law wasn't hosting so she lent me all of her beautiful things. We had just had a house fire in our master bathroom a week or two before and our house was a mess. We had guests coming to stay in our home (which we love!) but we weren't even sleeping in our own beds due to the all the damage and restoration work that took months to complete. Life was a bit chaotic to say the least and I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to the details. In the spirit of gratitude, her generous offer to lend me her beautiful collection of decorations from the last 30 years was such a blessing for me.
The tablescape turned out so beautiful. It set the perfect mood and right as we sat down to eat our dinner, huge snow flurries started to fall. It was magical. These are just my regular plates with a square gold charger under it. Chargers are $1 and add a lot to the table. My sister in law Mindy lent her goblets which she got from the dollar store. Speaking of beautiful tablescapes go check out her beautiful Thankgiving table she did this year. It's to die for. https://thisishowwebingham.com/how-to-host-thanksgiving-dinner/
I always add candles to everything. I put them on the table and where we serve the food. Such an easy cheap way to add a lot.
This picture makes me so happy! There's nothing like gathering together for the holidays.
I had to share these. I found them in the dollar section at Target last year. They were probably $3 a piece. So cute!!
More of Jolene's beautiful Thanksgiving decor.
Those last 30 minutes of trying to get so many dishes out to serve can be stressful! It helps me a ton to lay out my serving dishes serving spoons ahead of time. It gives me a chance to lay it out in a beautiful way and keeps me from scrambling last second to find things and get the food out.
This year we aren't hosting Thanksgiving so we did a little Pre-thanksgiving dinner with just our little family. We decided to do it super last minute and I had no time to decorate (my favorite part!) because my focus was on experiencing the cooking with my kids. We let them each choose one of the sides and be in charge of making it. So with limited time, we focused on that. But like I said you can always add a little something to your table with what you already have. When we were shopping for our groceries I saw that they were selling a bunch of fresh greenery for $7.99. You might usually find these type of greenery use for Christmas but we added a burlap table runner I already had a some clementines from my fridge and made it look festive for a Thanksgiving table. Add a few candles and bam.
One of my favorite things about fresh greenery is the incredible smell! I ran out of time but another fun way to use fresh greens are your leftover herbs! Everyone buys tons of herbs for the turkey and stuffing. Use your leftovers and tie your white cloth napkin with an herb and a piece of twine. So pretty! Here is a good picture for inspiration.
Like I said, I didn't have the time to dedicate anything to decor but we laid out a few things we already had and it turned out beautiful.
On to the recipes! I'm sharing my go to recipes. They are sooo good!!
We have been making this stuffing for the last 4 years and it's a huge hit. It's all homemade with the most amazing flavor but don't be scared about by homemade, it's easy to make!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1 pound white French bread (day old is preferred but either will work), diced into 1/2-inch cubes and dried
1 extra-large Vidalia onion, diced small
1 1/2 cups celery, diced small
2 TBSP fresh thyme (sticks discarded), finely minced
4 TBSP fresh sage leaves, finely minced
10 TBSP Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely minced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary (sticks discarded), finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 large eggs
I do a lot of the prep the night before. It makes Thanksgiving day much less stressful as many dishes are being prepared and you're trying to enjoy the day. You don't have to do this but I would at the very least recommend cubing your french bread, baking and drying it out the night before.
Preheat oven to 250F. Put cubed bread on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 45 minutes. You must begin with very dry bread or it’ll turn to mush. Once it comes out of the oven leave it out overnight to continue to dry out. Because I have pets, I leave mine in a unwarmed oven.
I also chop my onion, celery, parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary the night before to save time the day of.
When you’re ready to make the stuffing, transfer bread to a very large bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray
To a large skillet, add 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter and heat over medium-high heat to melt. Add the onions, celery, and cook until vegetables have softened and are just beginning to lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
Pour the cooked vegetables from the skillet to the bowl with bread. Add the parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, 1 1/4 cups chicken broth, and toss well to combine. I would be cautious when adding salt depending on how salty your chicken broth is. Add to taste.
To a small bowl, add the remaining 1 1/4 cups chicken broth, 2 eggs, and whisk to combine.
Pour mixture over bread and toss to combine. Pour the mixture into your 9x13 baking dish.
Dice the remaining 1/4 cup (half of 1 stick) butter into 8 to 10 pieces and evenly dot the butter over the top of the stuffing. You can do less if you prefer a little less butter. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is as lightly golden browned as desired. Serve immediately. Stuffing tastes best warm and fresh. In the picture below, I completely forgot to put it back in for 40-45 minutes uncovered and it was a little softer than usually but still tasted fine!
These are soooo good! They had me at bacon, pecan, cinnamon and marshmallow drizzle! The best part is that most of this recipe can be done ahead to save you stress the day of!
4 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes
Sweet Potato Filling
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of Pepper
Brown Sugar Bacon and Pecan Topping (I usually double this)
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
6-8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled -no rules here just depends how much bacon you like
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon milk
Get a large pot and bring the water to a boil.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them in to smaller pieces so they will boil faster. Boil them until they are soft.
While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the Topping by mixing the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in butter (or if using a food processor – pulse) until crumbly. Stir in pecans and bacon. Store in the refrigerator.
Mix together the filling ingredients in a separate bowl.
When potatoes are done, drain them. Add them to your filling ingredients. Pour the mixture into your 9x13 pan, cover and put in the fridge.
I do all of this the night before to save me stress the day of. So I have the filling completely done and in the 9x13 and the topping all ready to go in a separate container both in the fridge. Then the day of I put the topping on top and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
After they are finished baking top with the marshmallow drizzle.
Place the marshmallow fluff in a medium bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds. Add milk and stir until creamy. When ready to serve, drizzle over the sweet potatoes. You could also just use mini marshmallows and put them back in the oven to toast them.