Friendsgiving Brainstorm

With the advent of Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving is no longer reserved for simply time with the 'rents. If it is your turn to host the annual event or if you are just an attendee, we have listed below some tricks of the trade to make this year's get-together your best one yet! 

Entryway Etiquette

Image via  Homey Oh My  

Image via Homey Oh My 

Nothing beats an elaborate and bright entryway to let all your guests know it is party time! Whether you grab some gourds and pumpkins, paint them up in various shades á la Homey Oh My, or hang a few dried corn cobs on your front door, either way, a little extra care when it comes to the entryway adds a classic holiday touch to any home.

Garland Central

Image via  Alice & Lois

Image via Alice & Lois

If you are a little light on extra cash - who isn't this time of year?! - but still want to get your house looking party-ready, hang a few homemade garland options on the wall to keep spirits high and your money in your wallet. Alice & Lois feature quite a few distinct and modern garland signs as a starting point for your decorative theme and, best of all, they are free! Just click and print. 

Ditch the Tech

Image via  The Pretty Blog

Image via The Pretty Blog

Though the dinner spread may be aching for an Insta post or your FB feed may be blowing up with everyone's own Friendsgiving highlights, we love this creative and, dare we say, necessary, sign from The Pretty Blog declaring "Take a Drink. Leave your phone." Nothing beats a self-serve cocktail bar stocked with all the fixings and when you finally get all your friends to put down their phones, what better a time to let the games and turkey-fueled debauchery begin?

Image via  The Pretty Blog

Paper Table Runner

Not only does a kraft paper table runner make for easy after dinner cleanup but also allows for you and your guests to get creative. Draw names above plates for quick and simple name cards or take last week's tablescape inspiration and save space for guests to write down what they are thankful for this year.

Time Saver Big Batch Cocktails

Image via  Saveur

Image via Saveur

If your Friendsgiving has grown to a sizable amount, you may want to think about making a big batch cocktail to save time. This recipe from Saveur for Chilled Cider Punch is seasonal, light and refreshing. Just what all of us need on a day when we stuff ourselves silly with food. Otherwise, as a guest, always bring a bottle of wine or libation just to be safe. Trust us, your host will be most grateful.

Consider a Buffet Style Meal

Image via  Bon Appétit

Image via Bon Appétit

Though my mother would have a fit if the words buffet were even uttered on Thanksgiving, for Friendsgiving, a buffet style meal might be the easiest and best option. No need to worry about passing plates or having a grand dining room table. The buffet style - broken down in Bon Appétit step by step here - allows for guests to mange at their own pace and takes the pressure of cooking down a notch for the host. Buffet style for the win in our opinion. Just don't tell mom!

Takeout Boxes

Image via  The TomKat Studio

After the food has come and gone, be sure to have a few boxes for leftovers on hand in case anyone wants to lighten your turkey load. For the detail-oriented, add a classy touch of ribbon and a handwritten note. Better than giving away all your tupperware, these to-go boxes are a sweet and delicate finale to a successful evening.

The Ultimate Checklist

Image via  Buzzfeed

Image via Buzzfeed

And finally, this hosting checklist, compiled by Buzzfeed of all places, has all the little details so often overlooked. Helpful as can be, for those who are hosting especially, we recommend printing this puppy out and hanging it on the fridge.

Gobble gobble! Happy Friendsgiving!

Image via  NBC

Image via NBC

- KCH

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Looking for a few new recipes to try out this Thanksgiving? Check out our picks, from salty to savory and new takes on old favorites. 

STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS

stuffed-portobello-mushroom-appetizer
Images via  Blogging Over Thyme

A friend brought stuffed portobello mushrooms with bacon to our Thanksgiving feast a few years ago, and I'm still thinking about them! Considering squash and I don't get along, this veg-friendly option with goat cheese is a great alternative. Serve them as an appetizer while the turkey is cooking! (via Blogging Over Thyme)

CITRUS AVOCADO SALAD

Image via  Tori Avey

Image via Tori Avey

This salad will forever mean the holidays to me - my grandmother always serves it on Thanksgiving. For a simple version, use peeled grapefruit, sliced avocado, and pomegranate seeds topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. (via Tori Avey

ROASTED GARLIC BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Image via  Damn Delicious

Image via Damn Delicious

I know brussels sprouts are all the rage, but have you tried them with bacon?! Even the pickiest eater will eat their green veggies. (via Damn Delicious)

ROSEMARY GARLIC HASSLEBACK POTATOES

Image via  Feasting At Home

I love potatoes. Any shape and form: mashed, fried, baked, roasted. The boyfriend? Not so much. Something about the texture of mashed potatoes and him don't mix, but he'll eat anything that's crispy. That's where these gorgeous garlic rosemary potatoes come in. They're a great alternative to mashed potatoes and you don't have to worry about the extra step of adding gravy! It keeps us both happy, and me in carbs. (via Feasting At Home)

ORANGE BOURBON CRANBERRY SAUCE

Image via Gimme Some Oven

Image via Gimme Some Oven

I have never, nor will I ever, serve canned cranberry sauce. It's just not my thing. Fresh cranberry sauce however, is my jam (or... sauce). Considering making it is so darn easy, a few years ago I tried this snazzed up version and it rocked my world. You can also serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with pie for dessert for that WOW factor. (via Gimme Some Oven)

Happy cooking!
-Amanda

7 Seasonal Sippers: Fall-Inspired Cocktails

The leaves are a-changing and with a little nip in the air, as radiators kick on and nights grow darker, there is no better a time to end the evening with a fall-inspired cocktail. This list of seven highlights the savory and the sweet with something for everyone! 

Pumpkin Spice White Russian

Image via  Nutmeg Nanny    What do you get when you combine the Dude from  The Big Lebowski  and, well, a basic, PSL-loving bae? A  Pumpkin Spice White Russian  of course! This cocktail is a simple play on the original with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. For fans of the classic, this fall treat is most certainly worth a shot.

Image via Nutmeg Nanny 

What do you get when you combine the Dude from The Big Lebowski and, well, a basic, PSL-loving bae? A Pumpkin Spice White Russian of course! This cocktail is a simple play on the original with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. For fans of the classic, this fall treat is most certainly worth a shot.

Maple Bourbon Cocktail

Image via  Jelly Toast   For those interested in bourbon, look no further than the straightforward  Maple Bourbon cocktail . With the addition of zippy orange juice and earthy, sweet maple syrup, this libation is warming, lasting and goes down oh-so-smooth. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or orange peel for added appeal and remember to sip slowly. This easy sipper will not last long!

Image via Jelly Toast

For those interested in bourbon, look no further than the straightforward Maple Bourbon cocktail. With the addition of zippy orange juice and earthy, sweet maple syrup, this libation is warming, lasting and goes down oh-so-smooth. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or orange peel for added appeal and remember to sip slowly. This easy sipper will not last long!

Apple Cider Mimosas

Image via  The Cookie Rookie    A two ingredient cocktail? Sign us up! The  Apple Cider Mimosa  is exactly what you expect: Champagne and apple cider. A fun and easy way to add a little fall into your midday brunch or girl's night, this bubbly beverage is simplicity done right.

Image via The Cookie Rookie 

A two ingredient cocktail? Sign us up! The Apple Cider Mimosa is exactly what you expect: Champagne and apple cider. A fun and easy way to add a little fall into your midday brunch or girl's night, this bubbly beverage is simplicity done right.

The Hibernating Honey Bear

Image via  In Sock Monkey Slippers    Not sure what do with the extra sage you have leftover from your last  smudge ceremony ? This  Hibernating Honey Bear cocktail  has you covered! With simple syrup made from honey and sage, this bourbon base drink is the perfect combination of slightly sweet with an autumnal, earthy edge. Honey and bourbon are a perfect match and this time of year is sage's time to shine. Though a touch more prep work, this fall infused beverage is definitely worth it.

Image via In Sock Monkey Slippers

Not sure what do with the extra sage you have leftover from your last smudge ceremony? This Hibernating Honey Bear cocktail has you covered! With simple syrup made from honey and sage, this bourbon base drink is the perfect combination of slightly sweet with an autumnal, earthy edge. Honey and bourbon are a perfect match and this time of year is sage's time to shine. Though a touch more prep work, this fall infused beverage is definitely worth it.

Apple and Pear White Sangria

Image via  Love Grows Wild    If sweet, sweet, sweet calls to you, this  Apple and Pear Sangria  will fit the bill. Light and bright, the recipe calls for a moscato - which will surely up the sugar and sweetness quotient - but if you are a fan of the drier style, try a light-bodied sauvignon blanc or vinho verde to balance the pear and granny smith apple tones. Either way, this is a refreshing alternative to this season's robust pumpkin and bourbon offerings. 

Image via Love Grows Wild 

If sweet, sweet, sweet calls to you, this Apple and Pear Sangria will fit the bill. Light and bright, the recipe calls for a moscato - which will surely up the sugar and sweetness quotient - but if you are a fan of the drier style, try a light-bodied sauvignon blanc or vinho verde to balance the pear and granny smith apple tones. Either way, this is a refreshing alternative to this season's robust pumpkin and bourbon offerings. 

Apple Cider Martini

Image via  Will Cook for Smiles    For the vodka drinkers, an  Apple Cider Martini  is a playful twist on the classic cocktail. Just grab some apple flavored vodka - or if you're feeling frisky, play around with a jigger and use fresh squeezed apple juice and plain, old vodka - cinnamon liqueur and Gran Marnier, mix, stir and pour.  Pro-tip: You only want to shake cocktails when there is citrus or egg whites involved.  So grab a bar spoon and get stirring! 

Image via Will Cook for Smiles 

For the vodka drinkers, an Apple Cider Martini is a playful twist on the classic cocktail. Just grab some apple flavored vodka - or if you're feeling frisky, play around with a jigger and use fresh squeezed apple juice and plain, old vodka - cinnamon liqueur and Gran Marnier, mix, stir and pour. Pro-tip: You only want to shake cocktails when there is citrus or egg whites involved. So grab a bar spoon and get stirring! 

The Pear Spice Flip

Image via  Coco+Kelley

Image via Coco+Kelley

Egg whites in cocktails are truly a magnificent addition! Adding a frothy, silky texture and a little more weight to the drink, I can't stress enough how awesome egg white cocktails taste. Seriously, add an egg white to a margarita and you will truly be in heaven. Even this Pear Spice Flip - with its gin base, egg white head and rosemary garnish - is the definition of herbaceous and lavish with a playful autumnal vibe.

As always, please drink responsibly. Cheers!

- KCH