Planning an Epic Friendsgiving

Ever since I moved to Edinburgh, Thanksgiving has been a strange time for me. I see snapchat stories of my friends hanging out back in my hometown, miss out on watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and don't get to bond with my family over a hearty dinner. I'm more used to it now, though, and I know how to better fight off those Thanksgiving-abroad blues. 

In years past, I've gone to a big Thanksgiving Ball at the Balmoral Hotel. But this year, the timings didn't work out, and I realized that my time might be better spent gathering my friends together for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. They are mostly British, after all- and it's my responsibility to introduce them to American culture (true story: most of my friends have never had pumpkin pie before!). 

I've decided that I'm officially crazier than my mom, now, having invited over 15 people to my flat for dinner. I will single-handedly (well, with a little bit of help!) be putting together a dinner made up of cocktails, appetizers, a starter, mains and sides, and not one, but two desserts! I'm in way over my head here, but I absolutely love it. If you know me well enough, you'll know that cooking is one of my greatest passions. And what better way to show your friends you love them then by stuffing them full of food and drinking endless bottles of wine? 

Since this is my first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I thought I'd share a bit of my planning process here on the blog, and a few tips which I've picked up from the internet which I think are worth repeating. Before I do that, though, I will say this: if you want to host a Thanksgiving dinner, you have to plan and prepare in advance! That is, if you want to have an epic one, like me. As I sassily said to my mom over the phone: It's Thanksgiving dinner- this isn't child's play, mom! 

Create a menu that suits all diets // Always always ask people what their dietary requirements are beforehand. I know it can seem tedious, and most people won't really expect you to cater to them individually, but you should always keep this in mind. Your menu doesn't have to be entirely dairy-free, but make sure there are at least some options (separate out some mashed potatoes that have no dairy, have an apple pie and a pumpkin pie to suit everyone). It doesn't take much more effort and your friends will thank you! 

Make sure your menu is diverse // One of the best tips I read online, that I easily could have glossed over had I not read it, was to make sure you have at least one green vegetable that isn't smothered in cream or sprinkled with bacon. I know it can be tempting to make everything ridiculously rich, but people will certainly want a break from the overwhelming flavors of Thanksgiving. Have an option of a green salad on the table to freshen things up! 

Don't fuss too much over decorations // To be honest, nobody really cares about this stuff. They might snap a photo or two for their instagram, but after that it's all going to be about the food and the good chat. That being said, it's also important to go to some effort as far as the tablescape goes. I'm planning on whipping up a quick and easy tablescape of pumpkins, candles, and white flowers. I also bought a solid-colored table runner earlier this week; simpler than a tablecloth, and no need for exact measurements! 

Plan a timetable // I'm kind of stressing because I haven't done this yet but it is absolutely crucial to hosting a successful dinner! Find out what can be made ahead of time and served cold (for instance, pumpkin pie, cold appetizers) and what can be made ahead but warmed through before serving (like soup or stuffing). Write out a list of what needs to go in the oven when, and check it off as you go. Much easier said than done, but so worth it! 

Ask your guests to bring a bottle of wine (or two...) // You can never have enough wine. And if like me, you love to take on all of the work and glory that comes along with cooking dinner, and don't love to delegate tasks, then this is a great way to get your guests involved. Also, this ensures that there will be enough wine for everyone (the general rule is a bottle per person). But don't forget the cocktails!

I'm not quite sure whether writing out this post has made me more excited or anxious for cooking up a storm on Thursday, but I really can't wait to have everyone round for dinner! I'm going to try not to sweat the small stuff, and just enjoy the night. Fingers crossed it goes according to plan!

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