With family in different states, we did our celebration in stages. Josh and the boys went up to spend the actual holiday with his dad and stepmom in Michigan while I stayed behind to work (the dreaded part of starting a new job just before the holidays - no time off!). Then Saturday we did our big dinner here with our local family. The fun began Friday evening as I set the tables...
Seventeen people meant we needed two tables. I wanted everyone to be in the same general space together so I set up a second folding table in the family room, just next to the dining room table. This allowed me to divide people into two groups - 11 and 6 - but still have us together. It worked remarkably well. I made these little place markers so people knew where to sat. They were easy - just a small cardstock tent on which I wrote "happy thanksgiving." Then I clipped little bird clothes pins on the side and wrote a name on the bird. I like to pick up things like the little clips in the clearance bins at Michaels and I just throw them in with my table linens for times like this!
I decorated the tables with candles in different shapes and sizes, acorns I collected in the woods, and some fake fall leaves I got from my mom's collection. It looked warm and natural - just what I was going for.
We used the kitchen table as a buffet for all the goodies. We like to do meals like this as a potluck. It greatly lessens the stress on the host and you get such variety! We had sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, spicy cranberry sauce, sourdough stuffing, classic stuffing from the turkey, rolls, and of course turkey and gravy.
We actually did two turkeys - one at my house and one at my mother-in-law's. They were both about 13 pounds. That's a lot of turkey! I had never cooked a turkey by myself so Shelley was nice enough to come over in the morning to help me get started and tell me how to nurse it through the day. We brined the bird then cleaned it again, stuffed it, stitched it closed, buttered it up, and put it in the oven. It turned out beautifully!
Josh's aunt brought desserts - another lovely spread. She made sweet potato pies, one plain and one with nut topping, and a pineapple upside down cake.
It was another lovely family dinner at the farm, with a house full of guests, chatter, and food. Next year we will have two more babies at our celebration too - so much to be thankful for!