Monday, November 13, 2017

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This year has definitely flown by. I can't believe that it's almost Thanksgiving! This will be my first Thanksgiving in 3 years that I get to spend the entire day with my hubby and in-laws and not have to worry about working in the evening or on Black Friday. It's such a good feeling knowing that I get to spend time with those I love this Holiday season.

Since this is our first Thanksgiving as a married couple (yay!), we thought we'd go all out and host a little get-together of our own. Just recently, we had some of our friends over for Friendsgiving. It was so great to take time out of our busy Holiday schedules and spend time with those close to us. We laughed, we caught up on life, and we cherished every moment as we began the Holiday Season with delicious food and great friends.

In today's post, I'm going to be sharing all of the essentials you need for hosting your very own Friendsgiving. I'll be touching on all things food so that you can create the perfect menu, tablescape decor & place settings, a few tips, and some lessons I learned along the way.

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Essentials for Hosting your First Friendsgiving //

One // Guest Lists & To-Do Lists

If you know me at all, you know I love lists. They are the one thing besides my planner that holds my life together and keeps me sane. As I was planning our Friendsgiving, I had a to-do list of everything I needed to do. My lists included reminders to clean a few days before, vacuum that morning, and even notes on what store I needed to purchase which grocery items at. For my guest list, I planned out who I was going to invite and made sure that I would have enough seating, plates, and silverware for all that could come.

Two // Pie & Dessert Bar with Homemade Whipped Cream

Pie and desserts are my love language, especially all things pumpkin and apple. I decided to create a pie & dessert bar in my dining room. I ended up bringing my white vintage desk into the dining room to create a stunning display. Plus, this made it for easy access to all of the desserts. I was sure to sit in the seat right near them! haha!

It was super simple to make my pie & dessert bar--whether you have a desk you can move or you have a buffet already in your dining room, you have a pie & dessert bar in the making. I used white cake plates and a white serving tray to display my pies & desserts. I used some boxwood greenery around the base of the stands to pull in the farmhouse feel and tie it in with my centerpiece. I even used a wood round underneath of my dessert plate to give it a more rustic feel. Of course I had to include my favorite white and gold glass pumpkin for a little extra added fall feel.

Pie & Dessert Bar Menu // 

Marie Callender's Dessert Pies //

As I mentioned before, I just love pumpkin & apple flavors during the Holidays. I decided to pick up two of Marie Callender's Dessert Pies: Dutch Apple and Pumpkin. They were both such a huge hit and they were so easy to make! Marie Callender's Dessert Pies truly look homemade, impressing my guests, for sure. Clean up was a breeze as I just wrapped the leftover pie tin with some foil and put it in the fridge for next day's snacking.

Marie Callender's Loaf Cake //

Another flavor that I just can't get enough of is banana nut. Marie Callender's Loaf Cake in the flavor Banana Nut was delish! The loaf cakes are made from scratch with real ingredients and no preservatives or artificial colors. This was the first time I had tried Marie Callender's Loaf Cakes, and I can't wait to grab another for my next Holiday get-together!

Homemade Whipped Cream //

I wanted to go the extra mile for my guests and make a homemade whipped cream. For me, making homemade whipped cream reminds me of fun memories from my hometown and it's also much fancier for my guests. They loved it!

How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream // 

What You'll Need // 
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tbs. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla. Using a mixer, beat on high for 2 minutes. Once it starts to get fluffy and thickens, your whipped cream is ready. It's that easy and it tastes amazing!

Three // Gorgeous Tablescape

Ever since Chris and I got a huge farmhouse table this year from our wedding registry, we have loved having so much table space to seat more friends and family. The one thing that has been the most fun for me is creating different tablescapes and centerpieces for each season. For the fall and for Friendsgiving, I decided to have a plaid runner down the center and a homemade wooden planter box as the main centerpiece. Within the planter box I put faux boxwood garland, two candles, and a white pumpkin. I thought that it was darling for Friendsgiving; it didn't take up too much space, and it wasn't too tall--that way we could still see each other around the table as we chatted. Though it was simple to put together, it made a statement.

Four // A Thought Out Menu

In addition to my pie & dessert bar, my menu was something that I spent a lot of time thinking through. I wanted to make sure that my guests would have enough food options that they like to eat, and then some! After all, it is Friendsgiving. Though I'm a vegetarian, my hubby and my guests are not, so I wanted to give them a traditional menu complete with turkey and all of the delicious sides that go with it.

My Friendsgiving Menu //

Cheese Plate // 

I created a stunning spread with slices of cheese, rosemary & olive oil crackers, grapes, almonds, and cranberry sauce, which is perfect for a spread on sliced artisan bread.

Butterball Whole Turkey with Gravy // 

If I'm going to have turkey at my very first Friendsgiving, you bet I went with the number one brand of turkey in America. During the entire meal, my guests were complimenting my husband's amazing cooking skills, because the Butterball Whole Turkey was so tender and juicy. They are also all natural, giving you the highest quality of turkey at the center of your Holiday celebration.

If have any questions or you need any help making your Butterball Whole Turkey, call the Turkey Talk Line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372)

One thing that I really loved about the Butterball turkey is that it came with cooking instructions, which was perfect for my hubby, as this was the first turkey he ever cooked! We also made the gravy pouch that was included with the Butterball Whole Turkey. My guests topped their turkey and mashed potatoes with it!

Chris went above and beyond and stuffed the turkey with celery, carrots, and onions to add even more mouth-watering flavors. For serving, we placed those veggies around the turkey so that our guests could enjoy those as well.

Mashed Potatoes //

Whether you make them yourself or you buy them pre-made in the freezer section, (no judgement here!!) you just have to have mashed potatoes. I chose to have garlic mashed potatoes for one of our Friendsgiving sides.

Apple & Walnut Salad //

This is the easiest and prettiest salad you will ever make. I start with spring mix and top it with sliced apples, walnuts, and feta cheese. Personally, I love a raspberry vinaigrette with it, but you could also do a cranberry dressing. Either way, it's easy and perfect for the Holidays!

Green Beans with Almonds //

This was inspired by my Aunt who always makes this dish for Holidays. It's so yummy and it took less than ten minutes to prepare. I just sautéed green beans in olive oil and added sliced almonds on top! 

Variety of Woodbridge Wines & Homemade Sangria //

Would it be Friendsgiving without wine?! I don't think so! I chose to grab two Woodbridge wines. The first is the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Red Blend. It offers warm, toasty aromas and flavors, including blackberry, vanilla, and baking spices. It pairs well with Holiday favorites including turkey, mashed potatoes, and my favorite, pumpkin pie. For my second wine, I chose Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay as it has aromas of tropical fruits with hints of cinnamon and maple. I used this wine to make a sangria infused with cranberry and orange flavors that was perfect to go with both dinner and dessert.

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Five // Stunning Servingware & Place Settings 

I have a thing for all white servingware and place settings. To me, it just looks clean and elegant. This year, I did add in a few accents of navy blue with my napkins and with two navy & white plates at the heads of the table. I love the way that the navy and white accent my farmhouse table. You can choose to accent your table with any color that suits you and your style. Make your place settings reflect you and your home. You also don't have to spend a lot of money on these either. There are tons of home decor discount stores out there just waiting for you to scoop these items up for a great price.

One thing that I will say that would be a huge help to you is to plan out your menu and write down which food item is going on which serveware platter or stand. When it came down to plating all of the food, we realized that we miscounted and were one bowl short. Our guests didn't mind one bit, but now I just have to go pick up one more bowl before our next dinner party!

Click here for other Thanksgiving day tips!

As we come to the start of the Holiday Season, I hope that yours is filled with laughter, friends & family, and lots of love. Will you be hosting your first Friendsgiving this year?! Have you hosted before? I'd love to hear your stories. If you have any other tips or essentials, leave them in the comments! 

Stay Classy.

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