Vol. VIII: Thanksgiving Prep

Field Notes Vol. 8: Thanksgiving Prep

For Thanksgiving each year, we alternate between traveling internationally and hosting at our house. Last year we spent the holiday in London, visiting my sister who was living there at the time. This year we'll be at home with a smaller crowd than usual, but I always get excited to set the table and cook up a meal. In my experience, hosting any large meal (but especially Thanksgiving) is all about preparation. With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my go-to recs and some new finds for our table this year.

#1: Manage expectations. This is important for any gathering, but with family holidays it can be even more so. You don’t typically send out invitations to set the mood, and the timeline is much looser. I would start by texting your family the planned menu and dinner time for Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ahead. The menu for this holiday is so sentimental, and while some of us don't care about cranberry sauce, others can't imagine Thanksgiving without it! Offering up your menu in advance gives everyone the opportunity to offer to bring whatever they might think is missing. Making sure everyone knows your targeted dinner time and how early they can arrive gives you space to make sure your kitchen isn't crowded, and lets them know when to eat earlier in the day.

I use this cookbook for so many Thanksgiving recipes!

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#2: Plan for other meals. It is easy to get so caught up in the planning for Thanksgiving dinner that you forget that your out of town relatives may arrive hungry for lunch that day, or might be with you for breakfast the next day. I typically have a soup on the stove for lunch before Thanksgiving dinner, just in case it is not ready by mid-afternoon. I like to have a tray of light bites ready to go for pre-dinner nibbling as well.

#3: Label your serveware and count your flatware, dinnerware and glassware. This might seem excessive but Thanksgiving is typically buffet style or passed serving dishes, so I prefer to make sure I have all of the serveware on hand that I will need. I label them with the dish I am planning on serving in them. This also helps to keep things organized when family members arrive with dishes they’ve made. If they’ve brought a dish in Tupperware, there is a nice dish ready for them. You might think you have enough of your dinnerware, flatware, and glassware to serve everyone, but it is good to count in advance just in case someone broke a plate that you didn’t know about.

#4: Set a nice table and make a playlist. I think setting the scene with intention not only puts everyone on their best behavior, but also gives the proper credence to the meal. It takes hours to cook Thanksgiving dinner, so why not dress it up nicely? #5: Get the kids involved. I try to bring my kids into whatever cooking I’m doing by letting them chop vegetables with kids’ knives and place them on roasting pans. I let them color on all of the place cards and help me put them on the table. It keeps them busy and makes them feel like they are part of the day!

shop the kids’ knives

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Recipe Ideas

Soup for early Lunch: Vegetable Broth – I make the easy recipe from this cookbook. (Make this in advance and freeze it, then move it to the fridge the day before Thanksgiving so it can thaw!)

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Smoky Chicken Stew

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Mini Meatball Soup with Broccoli and Orecchiette

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Get the look

shop clockwise from top:

Mint Julep Cups | Gingham Table Linens | Vintage Etched Glasses | Paisley Tablecloth | Cabbage-ware Salad Bowl | Bamboo Place Card Holders

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For this year's table...

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Aptware Dinner Plates by Moda Domus | Amanda Lindroth Rattan Thermos | Bordallo Pinheiro Cabbage Platter | Moda Domus Salt & Pepper Set | Parterre Tablecloth | Amanda Lindroth Bottle Chiller

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Vol. VII: The Last Layer

Field Notes Vol. 7: The Last Layer

This week, it has finally started to feel like fall in Connecticut and seeing the holidays on the horizon makes me want to spruce up my house a bit. I am always buying accessories, for myself and for my clients, and am often swapping out decorative objects at home. I love to style clients’ homes with pieces I’ve collected and I keep a small rotating inventory on hand for upcoming installs. I find that if I try to shop for accessories for a project all at once, I end up with a bunch of catalog pieces that don’t feel authentic or special. I prefer a mix of new, handmade, and vintage or antique pieces to give the idea of a true collection. There are a few things I always look out for when antiquing, whether I am at Brimfield or in Paris, and whether the tiems are for my own house or for our company inventory. I wanted to share them with you here!

Inlaid, carved & hand-painted boxes

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1940s Antique Mosaic Inlaid Box Vintage Moorish Octagonal Box | Antique Tramp Art Box | English Tunbridge Trinket Box |  Swiss Alp Painted Box

For the top of a stack of books on a cocktail table, or to place on a chest of drawers, I am always looking for inlaid and painted boxes. I found a collection of tramp art boxes at auction recently that have found homes in my house and clients’ houses. Nearly every house we work on ends up with at least one bone inlaid box, because they come in nice large sizes that work on many surfaces.

Handmade vases + urns

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Pair of Qing Cloisonne Vases | Antique Spongewear Vase | Moroccan Vintage Tamegroute Ceramic Vase | French Aptware Vase

Even without flowers, a lovely handmade vase on top of a table or kitchen island can shake up the whole scene. The idea here is perfectly imperfect. A bit of imperfection reminds us of the beauty in the handmade nature of a piece. I love Tamegroute containers because they are always perfectly wonky.

Woven + Footed Bowls

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Moroccan Ceramic Green High Bowl | Vintage 1950s Italian White Ceramic Footed Basket | Vintage Kashmiri Bowl | Vintage Saint Radegonde Cup | 19th Century Thomas Forester Majolica Lily Ponde Compote

I love the shape of footed bowls because whatever you store in them (or even the interior of the bowl) is elevated for your eye. The shape from the side is nice, too, so they look great on bookshelves. I especially love the delicate woven ones in a space like a bathroom that is all hard angles and needs something complex to contrast the clean lines.


shop left to right:

Vintage Italian Tavola by Oggetti Horn & Stone Obelisks | Banded Onyx Obelisk | Neoclassic Heavy Metal Obelisks | Green Marble Ancient Egyptian Obelisks

On mantels and sofa tables, I love a pair of obelisks. Full disclosure: while sourcing for this note, I found a pair of obelisks that I could not live without for my living room and ended up purchasing! It’s the third pair in our house so I think it’s time to cut myself off, but maybe you have room for a pair!

Vintage Quilts

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Hand Block Print Kantha Quilt | 1930s American Folk Art Child’s Quilt | 1920s Antique Kantha Embroidered Double-Sided Quilt | Vintage Kantha Quilt

I first started buying these when I was working on a house in Maine that felt like the perfect home for them. When I saw them there, in combination with beautiful complex chintz fabrics, I realized they are the perfect foil for the really ornate fabrics that I love. Now I use them in bedrooms all over the place, including mine. I love American quilts, Kantha quilts, and African kente cloths.