November: A Time to Gather, Give Thanks, and Feast!

November is here, and that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It’s that wonderful time of the year when we gather with our loved ones, express gratitude, and enjoy a hearty meal together. As the holiday season approaches, we find ourselves pouring over recipes and having marathon cooking sessions to create a feast that shows our loved ones just how much they mean to us. We’ve gathered some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes to help you prepare a delectable meal. Plus, we’ll explore how to set the table in a way that creates a magical ambiance, ensuring this Thanksgiving won’t be forgotten for years.

Photo by Amaris Sachs Photo

The Thanksgiving Feast:

  1. Roast Turkey with All the Trimmings: Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without the star of the show, the turkey. Roasting a turkey can be a labor of love, but the result is worth every bit of effort. Season the bird with your favorite herbs and spices, and don’t forget to baste it for that golden, crispy skin. Serve it with classic stuffing, cranberry sauce, and rich gravy.
  2. Classic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are a must on any Thanksgiving table. Boil or steam your potatoes until they’re tender, then mash them with butter, cream or dairy-free alternative, salt, and pepper. These fluffy spuds pair perfectly with turkey and gravy.
  3. Homemade Cranberry Sauce: Say goodbye to canned cranberry sauce and say hello to this sweet and tangy homemade version. It’s quick, easy, and bursting with flavor.
  4. Pumpkin Pie: No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. Discover this recipe for the ultimate dessert that will leave your guests craving more.
Photo by Amaris Sachs Photo

Setting the Thanksgiving Table:

While the food undoubtedly takes center stage, setting the table plays a crucial role in creating a warm and inviting ambiance for your Thanksgiving gathering. With a few simple touches, you can transform your dining area into a place that will be remembered for years to come.

  • Table Linens: Start with a clean and well-ironed tablecloth, placemats, or table runners in neutral or warm autumnal colors. Consider using seasonal patterns or textiles that add a touch of coziness.
  • Dinnerware: Opt for elegant or rustic dinnerware, depending on the style you wish to achieve. Mix and match patterns or use vintage dishes for a charming, eclectic look.
  • Centerpieces: Create a beautiful centerpiece with seasonal flowers, gourds, and candles. For a personal touch, craft your own centerpiece using natural elements like pinecones, leaves, nuts and fresh or dried fruit.
  • Place Cards: Design place cards with the names of your guests to make them feel extra special. Handwritten notes or small tokens of appreciation can be a lovely addition.
  • Candles and Lighting: Add warmth to the table with candles or fairy lights. The soft, flickering glow creates an enchanting atmosphere as the sun sets.
  • Final Touches: Don’t forget the small details like polished silverware and fresh, folded napkins. Consider incorporating rustic elements like wooden or woven chargers or place mats for an extra dash of charm.
Photo by Amaris Sachs Photo

As we enter November, we are reminded of the joy of Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate love, gratitude, and delicious food. The act of preparing a heartfelt meal for your loved ones is a true labor of love, and the art of setting the table can turn your gathering into a magical experience that will be cherished for years to come.

We hope that our Thanksgiving recipes and table-setting tips inspire you to create a memorable and meaningful holiday celebration. So, gather your loved ones, pull out all the stops in the kitchen, and let the ambiance you create remind everyone just how much they mean to you.

With Love and Gratitude – Inspired Sides

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year with its focus on gathering people around the table for a meal, connecting with loved ones and expressing gratitude for all that we have.  I find meaning in the cooking, the eating and the gathering around the table with friends and family, and for me it is an ultimate expression of loving and being loved.  Slow down and savor the connections, the conversations, the flavors.  Remember to focus on the present moment… and during the busyness of the day perhaps take a moment to pause for a delicious cup of matcha tea.  If possible try to get outside as a group and maybe take a walk after the meal


Fare Isle Cup of Matcha with August Table Napkins

I have always taken my cues from my Virginia grandmother, who all summer long canned fruits and vegetables from her gardens, which were set up in lovely rows on the banks of Carters Creek just off the Rappahannock River.   Everything she cooked was fresh and made from scratch with love and attention to detail.  She was a bundle of energy (a ball of fire really) and had routines in place for every day, and special traditions for the holidays.

This year we are spending Thanksgiving at our friends’ house where various families and multiple generations will come together to cook together, share a meal and give thanks. My friend Mia has always made sure her family is intentional about their choices for the day around food and activities, the only requirement is that everything needs to be stress free and everyone comes early in the day so that we all cook together.

I have offered to set the tables (we’ll have multiple tables of guests) and hope to create a serene scene with rustic centerpieces, lovely linens (natch), and personal touches for the celebration so that everyone feels special.

Recently I’ve been perusing cookbooks and social media for inspiration on the sides that we’ll bring to complement the meal.  Below are a few that inspire me along with their recipes.  I hope you find some inspiration too.


I always love having appetizers around the kitchen and house when guests arrive.  This allows everyone to nibble while they catch up, cook and prep for the meal to come.


The Little Plantation Beet Hummus

Beets are a versatile vegetable that when used as a dip add a beautiful ruby color to the table.


Mia served her beet dip last week at a Holiday Market

Mia’s signature dish is her beet dip, which is divine, healthy and colorful.  She purees beets, soaked cashews, lemon juice and salt.  You must try it – it is earthy and addictive, served with sliced cucumbers and crackers.  I hope she’s making it on Thursday.

London’s Yotam Ottolenghi makes lush gorgeous vegetable dishes.  His Plenty and Plenty More cookbooks are some of my favorites to flip through, especially when I’m looking for sides.  This muhammara with feta would be an amazing starter for the meal along with elements from a board of olives, pita bread, chopped veggies, rice crackers and more.


Vegetarian Ventures Beet Hummus with Hazelnut Oil

Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberry sauce, seriously love it.  Any way it comes, relish, chutney, from the can, all of it. And no holiday meal goes unadorned without it.  My sister Coree is famous in our family for her cranberry sauce (and pies) but since I won’t have hers this year, I think I’ll try this recipe from Fare Isle.



I think the side dishes at Thanksgiving are where you can get really creative, and not only rely on the standard traditional fare, think bright colors and varied flavors.

For this stuffing recipe you can add or subtract as needed. Gluten-free? No problem, swap out for a gluten-free loaf of bread.  Vegetarian?  Use veggie broth instead of chicken broth. You get the idea.

In addition to the green beans, salads, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, think about pasta as an option too!



Banana Trifle and chocolate cake in Charlottesville with Krister's parents.

Thanksgiving is a time to bring out many types of dessert for the dessert table.  Three years ago I made a banana trifle and chocolate cake to mix things up a bit; however,  traditional apple and pumpkin pies are always a hit.

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here.