~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #71
Many holidays come with excessively high expectations: Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, even Christmas, or should I say especially Christmas, and some people might argue that Thanksgiving should be put on the list, but I dare to disagree. After all, if the turkey doesn’t turn out, there is typically access to alternative sustenance options, and there isn’t a particular weather pattern that comes associated with the season.
Much of the success or disappointment that comes with Thanksgiving rests on our own shoulders as we are not “hoping” for a particular present or behavior from anyone in particular, we aren’t going to be disappointed if a winter wonderland doesn’t materialize and we don’t expect a secret admirer to out-of-the-blue surprise us with their amorous adulations. Gratitude is the focal point, and that is something we each have absolute control over. And even if our list appears short, there can always be something to be appreciative about. After all, we are alive, we can read, we have a meal in front of us, we have the liberty to celebrate with whomever we choose.
Keeping in mind the gift and liberty Thanksgiving gives us to craft our own celebratory and much anticipated occasion, I was inspired by an article in Bon Appétit‘s Thanksgiving issue in which a laundry list of ideas were shared for the “pre-game” to the big meal. And so I decided to share ideas to enjoy the much anticipated day that is coined Thanksgiving from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep exhausted but with a smile upon your face. In other words, ideas to help you create a simply luxurious Thanksgiving. Select and apply as you prefer.
1. Have a simple but balanced breakfast
2. Pack and wear in the morning leisurely, yet stylish pajamas
3. Turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, even if in the background and do not forget to DVR so you can watch it when you have time.
4. Choose simple, yet delicious crackers for the appetizer platters. My preference: Elki Water Crackers.
5. Skip the bread as there will be ample stuffing.
6. Compile a cheese platter. I show you how in detail here.
7. Go outside and take time to go for a long walk/run/[insert favorite aerobic exercise here]
8. Wear a chic casual outfit (no stretchy waistbands).
11. Do you have a fireplace? Light it! Create a cozy mood.
12. Have water, bubbly and Pinot Noir or Chardonnay handy. If you want a touch of presentation, choose a decanter for the red wine. It eliminates bottles and provides a clean aesthetic.
13. Secure a television for football fans.
14. Plan a short toast that includes a touch of humor, a dose of truth and a reason to cheer. Guidelines for crafting a toast that will set the right tone at the table:
- keep it short
- leave yourself out of it – be mindful of your audience
- don’t embarrass, but do add humor that allows everyone to be in on the joke
- if you include a story, keep it short and include no more than two
- write it ahead of time and rehearse (sounds unnecessary, but remember, you have an audience)
15. Plan a simple tablescape and have it set before guests begin arriving. Perhaps even the night before. Here are a few ideas of inspiration.
16. Allow the discussion at the table to be something everyone wants to either participate in or listen to. You know your family, forget the rules.
17. Don’t forget the pups! Be sure to give your beloved four-legged family members a special dinner as well or at least a special occasion treat.
18. Take a break before dessert. Depending upon when you eat dinner, go for a walk, help the host clean up the kitchen, put all of the dessert options on display and take time to heat up the water for coffee or tea or maybe even Zinfindal or a sip of brandy/whisky.
19. Allow dessert to be a bit more casual. Perhaps people are mingling in a separate sitting room or small groups are congregating throughout the house. Allow your family and friends to end the evening where they are most comfortable, slowing noshing on something sweet and decadent.
20. Divvy out the left-overs to allow yourself some room in the refrigerator, but be sure to save some cranberries, cream cheese or brie, turkey and artisanal bread for my favorite sandwich the Friday after (see below for the recipe).
Holiday Turkey Sandwich:
- two slices of crusty artisan bread
- 2 Tablespoons of cream cheese or brie (brie is my choice!)
- 2 Tablespoons cranberry sauce (or 4 slices of canned cranberries or a homemade strawberry salsa)
- 4 slices of turkey
- a handful of alfalfa sprouts or cucumber slices (for some crunch)
- Spread cream cheese (or brie) on both bread slices.
- Place alfalfa sprouts on one slice of bread.
- Place cranberry sauce or slices on top of the alfalfa sprouts.
- Add the turkey
- Complete the sandwich and enjoy!
21. Sit and relax with a hot cup of tea and recount the day with those you love. Much gratitude to be had, no?
Wishing you and those you love a happy, gratitude Thanksgiving no matter where you are celebrating the holiday.
~Music played on today’s episode:
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