Thanksgiving is almost here! That means we are in the middle of dinner party season and I am *loving* life! Would you rather host or attend a dinner party?
I didn't realize until my late twenties that a lot of other people don't like to host things and get completely stressed out at the thought of inviting people over for a dinner party! (seriously, had no clue!) BUT I'm here for you, my friends. I'm going to share a simple Thanksgiving-inspired dinner party that will show you exactly what to do (and what to outsource)! For my fellow hostesses, here's a little inspo and a reminder that it doesn't have to be extravagant to be fun! ;)
In the past, I've planned dinner parties then tried to take photos of everything while setting up/guests arriving...terrible plan (ha!). This time around, I scheduled a photoshoot a few hours ahead of the dinner party and it worked out so well. Everything was made and prepped in time for the guests, and I even had time to make a few extras like an appetizer using tomatoes from our garden (win!). Bonus: my guests were surprised and delighted that we didn't need to stop and take any photos (haha they know me well!)
Let's take a moment. I want you to see the entire table and understand how *simple* it is and what I mean by that....one centerpiece, no place cards, no 17 plates for each person. I love all of those things, but they aren't necessary. Part of the magic of the Thanksgiving table or any dinner party table is that you can fill the table with your favorite foods and it looks beautiful! Compare this photo (feels a little empty) with a later photo when all the food is on the table (magical!).
I enjoy arranging flowers, but it usually (always!) takes me longer than I think it will and puts me behind schedule. For this dinner party, I decided to outsource a floral centerpiece and work with Bloomily to create a beautiful fall piece for the table. I love how it turned out!
That's a reminder for you that it doesn't have to be perfect or elaborate to be special and fun! Outsource what you need to, pick everything up pre-made, or make it a pot-luck! There's no wrong way to host.
My chargers didn't arrive in time, so I grabbed these cream woven placemats from Target for $2 each...and you know what, they looked great! I've had these gold chargers for years and love them.
My plates are the Pottery Barn Great White Collection that I've had for 10+ years. I'm always on the hunt for pretty, vintage salad plates, but nothing has caught my eye lately, so I opted to keep it simple.
I knotted my napkins (an Amazon find!) and placed half of a fig on each plate for a little whimsy. Some of the dinner party guests took a bite of it for fun, and some didn't. I also bought pears as a place setting option, but the fig was fun. Of course you could add place cards, salad plates, bowls, extra glassware, or you can stick to the basics!
I will say a cloth napkin goes a long way to make a table feel special and add a nice pop of seasonal color. If you're hosting on a budget, napkins may be the thing to "invest" in.
My gauzy table runner added a bit of texture and a nice base for our food dishes. I think runners always look nice, especially for family-style meals.
I'll be sharing a few of my favorite recipes over the next few weeks in separate posts, but this apple pie stole the show! Even though it's imperfect ;) I have *never* whipped up a pie so fast as I did the morning before this photoshoot. I think that's how they must feel on baking competition shows! I was sprinkling the top with a spoonful of sugar and had a wrist spasm or something so it all came down on one spot (ha!)...I tried to brush it off, but I think it adds a little visual interest. ;) Obviously, this is Texas, so we serve pie with Bluebell Homemade Vanilla.
Instead of a regular sourdough loaf, I shaped this one like a pumpkin using bakers twine. Tbh, I need more practice, but it turned out well! I ended up serving the bread toasted with a roasted tomato and burrata appetizer that I made later that evening for the dinner party - wow, it was amazing!
I'm normally a mashed potato gal, but for this meal, I opted for roasted seasoned yukon potatoes and a whipped sweet potato dish, topped with mini marshmallows & chopped walnuts. WOW the sweet potatoes were so good! Of course, they tasted even better because of these adorable pumpkin-shaped baking dishes, but still. I made two of these small dishes and they were a hit!
I bought a pre-made kale & cranberry salad (who has time to massage kale, you know?) and it was so good. Instead of the more traditional green bean casserole (so good, but not even healthy?), I opted for a simple and fresh green beans almondine recipe.
Instead of turkey, since this wasn't the "official" thanksgiving meal, I opted for a ham! I thought that would be fun and it was - so delish!
Remembered to light the candles at the very end of the photoshoot, and I love how they turned out!