Family Style: Set The Holiday Table – Snowe

Holiday Handbook for Homebodies

Family Style

All the table’s a stage, here’s how to set it. 

This is it: the dinner party. Thanksgiving dinner is the culinary climax of the year. You need the best dinner party ideas—the proper table setting, a crowd-pleasing dinner party menu, the ultimate agenda (we know you know you need to get the plates out in advance, but are you actually going to do it), and a few surprises that your family and friends might be tempted to turn into traditions.



Ready, Set

Start with a clean head—before you even turn on the oven, pick what serveware you’ll use for what sides (you can pop a Post-it note in each so you don’t forget). You don’t want to realize you’re out of bowls mid-serving and end up putting potatoes on a paper plate. Plot out your day (if you don’t factor in time to take a shower, it won’t happen) and set your table the night before—you’ll know if you are missing anything with enough time to spare.

 



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Choose The Classics

Don’t let this be your most experimental culinary moment. Thanksgiving day is about taking a victory lap. Choose recipes you’ve tried before or at least feel confident about. Your guest will be plenty impressed by a complete, delicious meal, so no need to get overly ambitious. Here’s a sample menu to get the juices flowing:

 

ON THE MENU:

  • Turkey — brine it, dry-roast it, or deep fry it.
  • Stuffing or starch — go classic with celery, sage and sausage or Southern with a cornbread base.
  • Gravy — always best when you make it yourself.
  • Side — an old-fashioned green bean casserole, creamed spinach or brussel sprouts.
  • Side — mashed, sweet or au gratin potatoes.
  • Side — cranberry jelly or sauce.
  • Salad or other veggie — for the herbivores.
  • Booze — start with an autumn cocktail and continue with wine and champagne.
  • Bread — Parker House rolls, cornbread, or biscuits.
  • Dessert — pumpkin, apple or pecan pie. 

 

 

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Make A Pass

Give them plenty of room for family style. Avoid table overcrowding by skipping plates and utensils they won’t use. Instead of pre-setting dessert plates, let them serve themselves post-main event. Choose low centerpieces so they can actually see each other, and we promise, the conversations will be much more entertaining.

 


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Fall Colors

Thanksgiving has long been synonymous with beige/brown food (turkey, potatoes, gravy, crispy onion topped casseroles). Introduce bright colors and non-carb options. Taste the rainbow by opting for foods that pop off the plate—heirloom carrots, bright green kale, and bright crimson cranberries that don’t come from a can.

 

 

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Table Talk

Don’t let tryptophan sluggishness dry up your conversation. Whip out a game to keep post-dinner energy up: Draw names for Secret Santa or play something without too many itty bitty pieces like Exquisite Corpse, Heads Up, or Charades. Really don’t want to talk? Head to the movies, but remember to buy those big holiday movie tickets in advance.

 

 

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Turn It Up

No music is bad, but the same 10 songs is actually worse. Choose a playlist that’s long enough to avoid repeats before your guests are having seconds. Some crowd-pleasing favorites for people of all ages classic soul, Motown, and The Big Chill soundtrack.

 

Places Everyone

There’s something so delightful about placecards. They let guests know you really thought about them specifically when you were getting prepped, and set the stage for a meal that’s more special than your average weeknight dinner. Opt for simple and chic instead of going over gourd.

 

 

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Pour Choices

Family gatherings are better with booze, but now is not the time for complicated one-off cocktails. Offer something a little more than just wine—or water for those not imbibing. “Infusing” something is as easy as sticking a few sprigs into the bottle a day in advance. Add rosemary to aperol or a bottle of cider for extra holiday cheer, and let guests serve themselves.

 

  

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Pick Perfect

No need to lie and throw away the empty containers of store-bought food as long as you follow this one tip: shop smart. The best way to distract guests from the fact you didn’t make a dish from scratch is to lean into what you picked up—snag pies from the most famous place in your hood, or go nostalgic with classic crescent rolls. If they love it, it’s almost like you made it with love.

   

 


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For The Road

Your fridge can only do so much and no one needs that many turkey sandwiches. Send your guests home with something (that’s not the guilt of returning your tupperware later). Stock up on containers folks can take and keep, or request guests BYOC.

 

  

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