Okay, so I know Thanksgiving was more than a month ago, but that’s what took up the majority of my November (in addition to adopting my dog and continuing the craft fair circuit.)
This was the first Thanksgiving married and living in our first house, so my mother-in-law asked if we’d like to host and we said yes.
Of course, the main focal point of Thanksgiving prep is the food, and I’ll get to that. However, I was really excited to set the table. That probably sounds silly, but I’ve always been in awe of magazine tablescapes.
I started by considering what I had to work with and what colors were in the room.
My dining room is gray and white. My plates are white with red and gray swirls. My dining room chairs are upholstered in red.
For linen napkins, I had eight red and a dozen cream. We invited 24 people and ended up with 18 adults and a baby as guests.
I also was hoping to work in a set of copper antiques that belonged to my husband’s late grandfather, since it would be mostly that side of the family there.
I decided on a color palette of red, teal and copper/orange.
I’d be using both our regular dining room table and our game room table, with the leaves to extend them in. Plus, I ultimately added TV trays to the end when we got two more guests in the 11th hour.
To cover them, I went searching for teal tablecloths on Amazon and got two Gee Di Mod large polyester ones in Carribean Blue. Though probably not the highest quality product in the world, I was pretty happy. At just under $11 each, they were big enough to cover the table without breaking my tiny budget.
To add some rustic flair to an otherwise vibrant table covering, I bought a sheet of burlap garden fabric. This is a lower quality burlap than what you’ll find in a craft store since it’s literally meant for burying tree roots in, but like I mentioned: tight budget. I cut two pieces about a foot wide and the length of my extended tables (about 100 inches).
I had originally planned to use my everyday dishes for the meal (even though I didn’t have enough in the same size), but my mom dropped off some tan and red Thanksgiving paper plates the week before, so I used those.
I did end up using real cloth napkins. As I mentioned, I had eight red napkins and a dozen cream napkins. I also ordered a four-pack of orange Fete napkins (same style as my red ones). At the places around the table, I alternated red, cream, red, orange, red, cream … etc. I made napkin rings by taking wood rings and spray painting them a copper tone. I made place cards on the computer by writing everyone’s names on leaf shapes and printing on brown kraft paper. Then I used twine to tie to the napkin rings.
For the centerpieces, I cleaned up the copper antiques, which had gotten a bit dingy. I had to special order a new chimney for one of the miniature hurricane lanterns, plus purchase some lamp oil. Then, those were done. There were also sugar and cream copper items, which I cleaned and placed as-is.
Also for the centerpieces, I tinted jars blue to correspond with the teal tablecloth. For this, I cleaned out recycled spaghetti sauce and chocolate sauce jars, removed the labels and waited til they were dry. Following a tutorial, I mixed one part Pebeo Vitrea Turquoise with three parts Pebeo Vitrea dillutant. Then, I spooned the mix into my jars, swirled around until all the inside of the glass was coated and left to dry upside down overnight. Once the jars have dried 24 hours, bake in the oven at 320 for 40 minutes. Then, turn off the oven and let them cool in there.
Once the jars were done, I filled halfway with old-fashion popcorn kernels. In the two larger spaghetti sauce jars, I made floral arrangments with cream, red and orange flowers and in the two smaller chocolate sauce jars I placed marron tea light candles.
The set up was complete with mini-pumpkin gourds.
Alright – now it’s time for food.
I’d never cooked a whole turkey before and here I was about to attempt to cook a 19-pound bird for 18 people, all of whom I didn’t want to give food poisoning to. I did lots of reading on the right way to cook a turkey: baste or not to baste, stuff or not to stuff.
I bought my frozen turkey about two weeks before Thanksgiving, since rumor has it that last year all the grocery stores sold out the week of Thanksgiving. Four days before, I moved the turkey from the freezer to the fridge to begin the thawing process, but I probably should have given it five days since my bag of gibbets was still pretty well frozen inside. I didn’t stuff the bird with stuffing, but I got a couple large onions that I cut up into quarters and filled the body cavity with. I buttered the bird, then sprinkled with salt and seasonings. Then into the oven it went for about three and a half hours. I limited the basting I did to about once every 45 minutes and it all seemed to turn out fine.
The weekend before Thanksgiving I made my grandmother’s oatmeal bread recipe and dinner rolls, which I kept in the freezer until the morning of Thanksgiving.
A few days before, I made homemade cranberry sauce, which is actually super simple to do. You basically boil cranberries and sugar in water for a while, then chill it.
I made wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too many mashed potatoes. I’d cooked 10 pounds of potatoes for 18 people and I think only about 3 pounds was eaten.
Since my oven could only fit the turkey and nothing else, I ended up cooking my cut up carrots and turnip in a slow cooker. This was an unexpected twist, so they didn’t get all the time they needed. I cooked them for four hours on high but maybe six would have made the vegetables the softness I like. I ended up putting them in bowls and microwaving to finish them off. I had topped the carrots and turnip with olive oil, seasoning salt, pepper, parsley and garlic.
Then, I heated up some peas and called it a day.
My mother-in-law brought stuffing muffins, which are like individual portions of stuffing. My grandmother-in-law made green bean casserole.
My husband aunt made the family recipe of mint brownies and squash.
Other guests brought cheese and crackers, Brussels sprout salad, pie, cookies, and wine. All in all, we probably could’ve fed 30 people. Everyone went home with leftovers.
It was a wonderful day spent with family and I’m so glad everyone was able to come.
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