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Is your Thanksgiving menu/setting formal/informal, traditional/contemporary, family/friends?

We have a grown up setting, which through the years has become more formal than when we were children at our family shore home. We serve turkey with spinach gratin and smashed sweet potatoes with orange. We don't do stuffing - that's done the old-fashioned way with oysters at Christmas. People have more fun if they don't eat so much they have to be taken home on a stretcher. We serve no hors d'oeuvres - only cashews and Veuve Clicquot mixing one teaspoon of cassis per glass of Champagne and serve them in my "Provence" glasses from Baccarat - it's sort of formal; however, it's amongst family & close friends.

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  1. I use the good china and silver, but the meal is pretty informal. I agree on not killing guests with more food than they would eat in a typical week. Do raw veggies with a light dip as an appetizer. Turkey, stuffing (no oysters, thank you very much), mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, a couple of green veggies (not loaded with heavy sauces), pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake. This is supposed to be an abundant meal to celebrate the harvest, but I don't want to serve up a home-cooked version of "Super-size Me!"

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      It's fun using the "good stuff" for a change. Our group is 10 (small enough to be formal, yet large enough to mix & match), so we mix & match with my late grandmother's vintage Wedgwood collections. Each place setting is complete, yet the setting next to it is a totally different pattern. The sterling is old, yet restored Hotel silver from a collection my Mother started many years ago visiting vintage hotel auctions. So we're formal, yet vintage - it's fun & causes great conversations.

    2. It is a very casual affair. We invite anyone who is without family around. Or that work for our local Soup Kitchen. I do pull out the good china and cutlery but we have it outside around the pool! We have plenty of the traditional dishes as well as Deep Fried Turkey and oyster dressing (truly southern!) We so this meal for about 20 + people every year!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

        I think that's great Judy - inviting any & all who have family elsewhere. We do the same thing at Christmas. It seems these days that folks travel to family for Thanksgiving, but stay put at Christmas - we host a huge open house/buffet on Christmas for "any & all" - I love the holidays!

        1. re: JayVaBeach

          That's interesting because we invite people who don't have any family for Thanksgiving and everybody sticks with just family at Christmas. I think it's because of the gift dilemma you run into at Christmas.

      2. We serve "fiesta food," that is to say labor-intensive food that is nicer than what we normally eat with much more attention paid to presentation. The foods range from modern takes on traditional Thanksgivingania and traditional Asian foods to gourmet hors d'oeuvres before the meal. But we avoid stuffiness as we eat buffet style, in large part because there's so much food that not only is the entire table filled, but also the side board and even the radiator casing.
        Typical menu:
        Lumpiang shanghai
        Crabcakes
        Croquetas
        Crab rangoon

        Prosciutto-hazelnut turkey
        Sweet potato puree with pecan crunch
        Italian sausage-parmesan stuffing
        Mashed potatoes
        Roast squash
        Green beans and eggplant
        7-Layer Salad
        Chicken and crab gumbo
        Pancit bihon
        Rice
        Gravy and cranberry-ginger compote

        Flan
        Buttermilk pie
        Pumpkin pie
        Fruit tart

        1. In the past it's been pretty traditional, but informal. For years my mom then my sister would put out the good china and silver. If there were too many people for that, she'd try to dress up paper plates. No one really minded though. The food was plentiful and traditional.

          This year my SO and I are having it and we really can't seat that many people at a table, so it's going to be VERY casual and VERY informal (assuming everyone shows up). We're also holding it earlier than I'm accustomed to, but I don't mind that either. I like being able to veg out late in the day without having to worry about cleaning up well into the wee hours of the night.

          We will definitely serve some sparkling wine and regular wine before and during dinner. All our food will be traditional and I'm quite sure there will be too much as my SO likes cooking for armies. ;)

          At this point we've decided to have: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, apple pie, my mom's jello mold and god only knows what else we'll "need" to add in because it won't be enough food. ;)

          2 Replies
          1. re: OysterHo

            OysterHo - you must do the famous Virginian Oyster Stuffing from The Williamsburg Inn...it's a family tradition at Christmastime; however, we've done it plenty of times at Thanksgiving for a super test run (it goes along with your Chow name too) <grin>

            * 1 1/2 c. onion, chopped or 1 T. onion powder * 1 1/2 c. celery, chopped
            * 2 T. parsley, chopped or pulled apart * 1 t. salt
            * 1 t. pepper * 2 T. poultry seasoning
            * 16 c. stale bread, cubed and lightly toasted (can use cornbread)
            * 1 quart cold water oysters * Melt butter in large skillet.
            * Add onion, celery, and parsley & saute until tender. Do not brown.
            * Add salt, pepper, & poultry seasoning. * Cook over low heat, stirring for 2 minutes.
            * Place bread cubes in large bowl.
            * Add vegetables and stir. * Reserving the liquor, drain oysters through a sieve.
            * Chop oysters coarsely. Add to the mixture. * Toss and stir with chopstick.
            * Add a little of the oyster liquor if dressing is too dry. * Taste for seasoning.
            * Stuff & truss turkey. * Place leftover stuffing in a buttered casserole.
            * Bake in oven with the turkey for the last 30 minutes of roasting time.

            1. re: JayVaBeach

              That sounds wonderful! :D

              Shhhh, keep it on the down low - I snuck some oysters into some stuffing one year (probably for Christmas). Nobody knew *snort*

          2. We are the same sort of formal/informal. The table is set with the turkey plates my mother (at 82 still hosting) has used for years and linen but with 23 people the table goes from one room through french doors into another. My mother complains that she is allowed to add things to the menu but not remove anything. We are going to make our own breakfast sausages for the sausage and chestnut stuffing. Two turkeys, a vegetarian stuffing for those who don't eat meat or pork, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, turnips, green vegetable, assorted cranberry products, pies-apple, pecan, pumpkin and lemon meringue. Champagne to start with crudite and dip. This meal is just to stretch the stomach for the following evening when we have a homemade chinese feast. As my cousin's son said Thanksgiving is just pre-Chinese.

            2 Replies
            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

              Thanksgiving has always been a competition for my mom's side of the family. My grandpa, uncle and my mom all love to cook, so thanksgiving dinner usually looks like this:

              Grandpa's turkey (usually smoked)
              Mom's turkey (roasted)
              Grandpa's dressing (always something different, last year it was oyster)
              Mom's dressing (traditional)
              Uncles dressing, usually fruited- last year it was something with figs
              Sweet potatoes
              Mashed potatoes/ Au gratin
              Whatever I make (last year it was a wild rice dish)
              green bean casserole
              grandma's jello salad that we are all afraid of because it has celery in it
              homemade cranberry relish
              rolls and butter
              LOTS of pies, etc.

              In the last couple of years, we have started having a second 'thanksgiving' the next day just so that my uncle can also make a turkey.
              Yeah it's nuts.

              1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                AGM - that sounds wonderful & I like the post asian idea - yumyum !