3 Tips to Simplify Thanksgiving Dinner & Make It Your Own

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means that the holiday season is about to kick into high gear. I absolutely LOVE the holidays, and am so excited to be spending our first full holiday season with our 10-month old son Pierce. I can’t wait to introduce him to all of our traditions and have him join the festivities. That being said…hosting while taking care of my little guy has proven to be a tad bit trickier than it was sans-baby. I would be lying if I said that whipping up the perfect garlic kale mash (details on that to come) with Pierce at my hip was an easy task. It means staying extra organized and making sure I’m on top of all the details ahead of time. To hopefully make your life as a host a bit easier, I’ve compiled all my tips, tricks, and how-tos to simplify your Thanksgiving dinner and make it your own.  

1. The Tablescape

I always like to start off my planning by choosing a colour theme. This gives me a framework to start sourcing all the puzzle pieces from décor to place settings and everything in between. The key is to make sure the colours and textures give off a sense of warmth and comfort. It’s important to emulate that in your space so no matter who or how many you’re hosting they feel right at home. It’s also key to make sure the colour palette you’ve selected complements the space you’ll be hosting in.

With that in mind, I chose to go for a traditionally inspired setting while infusing some more trend-forward elements to make sure it looked cozy but fresh. My colour palette incorporates tones of blush, cream, and gold which play off my existing dining room.

When it comes to putting together an elevated room, I always turn to The Cross Decor and Design. You can find my blush pink chairs, rug, napkins, pillows and throw all there. Can you tell I’m a fan? My table, custom chairs, and bench are all from CF Interiors.

All the dishes, flatware, and beautiful gold and silver cutlery in my tablescape are from Bed Bath and Beyond. Every little bit of time saved counts when I’m getting ready to host, and hitting a one-stop-shop like Bed Bath and Beyond lets me spend more time on the details that really make a setting sing.

You can also entertain in style with this gorgeous serving tray that was part of the Etsy x Jilian Harris Holiday Collection and they did a custom smaller version for us as well. Each one is handmade in Vernon, BC, and has a unique, one-of-a-kind finish. Crawford Creek Rustics Charcuterie Board, $170, etsy.com.

Now about those details. I had Valley Weddings put together the absolutely stunning décor for the tablescape. Using contrasting glass textures and a variety of heights really makes an impact and gives a slightly more dramatic look. We went with a mixture of gold and rose gold metallics to make the setting feel warm and luxe, accented by pillar candles, foliage, florals, and of course – pumpkins!

The chic-yet-simple place setting pumpkins are such an easy DIY that our friends at Maple Ridge Florist made and will have all your guests wondering why they didn’t think of it first! Just cut off the top, clean out the seeds, fill with water and you’re ready to insert your blooms and foliage. I always like to tie in my tablescape with some loose greenery. It’s a great way to enhance the festivity and is super affordable.

I also chose to set a kids table which was in the same theme as the main table. This is a fun way to make the kids feel like they’re included in the adult world but tailored to them! I set the table with lots of fun, interactive items from Walmart like coloured pencils, silly puddy, and slime all on top of a paper table cloth which doubles as a colouring canvas. Wood stumps, mason jars and mini pumpkins tied the setting together and gave it texture.

2. The Menu

At the end of the night when everybody goes home to sleep off their turkey, there’s always one thing that people continue to talk about: the food! I turned to Tori from Fraiche Nutrition to get her tips on what to prepare for a Thanksgiving dinner that’s sure to have people reminiscing long after the long weekend.

I did all my grocery shopping under one roof at Real Canadian Superstore. Using their PC Express service, I ordered all of my groceries online. All that was left for me to do was to pick up my order at the nearest Real Canadian Superstore location! Anything that saves me that much time and effort (and lets me avoid lineups!) makes all the difference. I used the time I saved to pour extra love into all the dishes I made and spend some quality time with my baby boy.

Dinner Menu:

The dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake is a personal favourite of mine and I wanted to share the recipe with all of you courtesy our lovely friend Jillian Harris!! I was up at the crack of dawn, literally making these while Gary and Pierce were sleeping. I loved layering each of the jars to create such a beautiful effect that I know our guests will love.

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake JarsMakes 6 small mason jars

  • Pumpkin filling:
    • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
    • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin, canned or homemade (NOT pumpkin filling!)
    • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • ½ tsp salt
  • Maple Coconut Whip Cream:
    • 2 cans coconut milk, chilled overnight (Thai Kitchen is a great brand)
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp vanilla
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • For the Graham Cracker ‘Crust’:
    • 1 1/4 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs
    • 3 tbsp vegan butter, melted
  • Directions
    • Make the graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350. Place butter in small saucepan and melt the butter over low heat. Place graham cracker crumbs in a small mixing bowl and combine with melted butter. Spread the crumbs evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside to cool.
    • Make the filling: Drain and rinse soaked cashews. Place drained cashews, pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a blender and blend on high for two minutes or until thick and creamy. Set aside.
    • Make the coconut whip cream: Open can of chilled coconut milk and scrape off the top solid layer (save the liquid coconut water for smoothies!). Place solid coconut milk in a mixer and whip coconut milk. Add maple syrup, vanilla and a pinch of salt and continue to mix until light and fluffy.
    • Assemble the cheesecake jars: Layer each jar with graham cracker crumbs, pumpkin filling, and coconut whip cream. Place in fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Top with a sprinkle of nutmeg and more graham cracker crumbs. Enjoy!!!

3. Hostess Schedule

It can be tough to keep track of all the to-dos leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s why I wanted to share my schedule to keep you on track! Use this as a guide and you’ll be having a much-needed glass of Singletree Winery wine with all of your guests come dinner time instead of scrambling around in the kitchen (we’ve all been there).

Two Days Before:

  • Buy flowers and centerpieces
  • Purchase wine
  • Grocery shop. Make sure you’re going in with a list so that nothing gets forgotten! Or my personal suggestion: use the Real Canadian Superstore PC Express service.
  • Iron linens
  • Pick outfit (my favourite part!). I went with something classic yet comfortable so that I could feel my best while running around! My top is from Judith and Charles and my skirt is from Aimee B in Fort Langley.

Day Before:

  • Bake cake
  • Place white and rosé wines in the fridge
  • Assemble flower arrangement
  • Set table
  • Make Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Day Of:

  • Morning:
  • Make stuffing
  • Prep turkey and bake (cook time will vary depending on size of turkey)
  • Afternoon:
    • Make kale and beet salad (wait to add dressing until dinner)
    • Make mash potatoes
    • Prep brussels sprouts
  • 30 Minutes Before Guests Arrive:
    • Assemble charcuterie board
    • Roast brussels sprouts
    • Place potatoes in a warming dish in the oven
  • Guests Arrive:
    • Light candles
    • Serve wine
    • Take turkey out of oven to rest before dinner
    • Steam carrots
    • Serve dinner
    • RELAX AND ENJOY!

At the end of the day, what really matters is taking the opportunity to spend time with family and appreciate one another. It is so easy to get swept up in the everyday hustle of life and forget about the little moments that make it all worthwhile. Hopefully my guide has left you feeling like you have all the tools to take on your Thanksgiving dinner with ease – and to spend your evening laughing and sharing with family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Lots of love

n xx

Photography – Better Sweet Photography

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