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LAGRANGE LIVING: Thanksgiving made small & southern

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column/story was featured in our October/November edition of LaGrange Living  

Thanksgiving this year may look a little smaller for some families, new couples or even young adults just getting their start in the world.

Travel plans may have to be canceled and long-standing traditions of a big family meal at grandma’s house were put on pause this year. Even being quarantined during Thanksgiving may have changed the holiday for many. 

As a young 24-year-old southern woman, I’ve learned a thing or two about hosting and entertaining in the past few years. 

Before there was Pinterest, there was Martha Stewart. 

Like most southern women traditions, we all grew up watching our mother’s flip from page to page of an heirloom cookbook that has been passed down for generations. 

My heirloom cookbook was a Better Homes and Gardens from the 1980s that I found in my mother’s pantry one day. That book taught me how to make my first roasted turkey my sophomore year of college. 

Growing up, Martha Stewart was an inspiration in the kitchen. She cooked, she decorated and she even modeled. 

She’s what has inspired me to keep my passion for cooking and entertaining guests. 

Nothing says “grown-up” or “adulting” like hosting Thanksgiving, even if it is just for a few people this year or yourself. 

On the upside this year, the less mouths you have to feed, the less you have to cook and spend. 

But just because we all may not be hosting big Thanksgivings this year, doesn’t mean we can’t have a table set up that would even make Martha proud. 

Located in downtown LaGrange, Plum Southern has plates, décor, table settings, napkins and more throughout the store. 

For this Thanksgiving spread, I grabbed a neutral brown place mat with napkins to match from Plum Southern. Add a metal napkin ring and find a ‘how-to’ on how to fold a napkin presentably into a ring, and you’ve got a pretty set. 

It’s no southern secret, that Georgia families like their meals to be plentiful, especially during the holidays. So, opt in to set out a dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate and a soup bowl. It helps keep everything neat while eating and makes for an elegant table set up. 

Try using a more modern flatware this year. Plum Southern offers exquisite hammered flatware patterns that give your table setting a modern and gorgeous appearance.

When it comes to your table décor, you don’t need anything too extravagant, especially if you’re only entertaining a few people this year.  

A simple table runner and fall foliage from Hobby Lobby always does the trick. Put out a few pumpkins here and there and you’ve got yourself a simple fall dinner. You don’t want too much on the table to pull away from the center of attention: the turkey. 

Planning your Thanksgiving meal a few days prior is a key to making cooking run smoothly in the kitchen. It would be a rookie move to head to the grocery store the night prior or morning of to get all your ingredients. Additionally, your turkey might need to thaw overnight. 

Spend a week before Thanksgiving, making a Pinterest board of all the recipes you want to make and what you want it to look like. 

Head to the store in time to get everything you need and pay close attention to your fresh goods when shopping to make sure they stay fresh in time for Thanksgiving. 

Going early means you’ll not only have time to prep the dishes that can be made ahead, you’ll have plenty of time to go back to grab that small ingredient that is always overlooked. 

This year is the year to avoid being one of those zombie-like people in the grocery store early Thanksgiving Day morning, having a meltdown about Brussel sprouts. 

Unlike many years past, with less mouths to feed and guests to entertain, grocery lists and turkeys will most likely be smaller. Use this year as an advantage to save a few extra dollars on food. 

Often overlooked, beverages are a key to a great meal. Nutwood Winery has a plethora of local wine options that you can stop and buy. 

This year, with fewer people at the table you won’t have to guess what wine or beer to buy and can save by only buying a bottle or two. 

Don’t forget to stock non-alcoholic choices for children and make sure there’s plenty of sweet tea in the fridge. 

Additionally, give yourself time to clean the batter and gravy off your face. Even if you aren’t entertaining a large crowd this year, make it a point to still do your hair and put on something special to give a sense of normalcy. 

If you can’t be surrounded by your family this year and are practicing social distancing, add a laptop or electronic device to the end of the table to video chat and eat with your family. 

At the end of the day, don’t over think the turkey and opt for a simple recipe. 

Enjoy yourself, the food and the family.