thanksgiving table ideas

thanksgiving table ideas

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Just like Christmas, it is deeply personal. Each family celebrates differently, has different traditions. When I first started spending Thanksgiving with my now husband’s family, I was appalled that they didn’t serve mashed potatoes or have traditional rolls – two staples of Thanksgiving in my family (can you tell we love carbs?). Alternatively, I think my husband was surprised by some of the dishes we didn’t offer that he had grown up with.

My husband and I are about to move into our first house and I am sure we will soon start our own traditions once we host Thanksgiving for our families. We aren’t able to host this year as we won’t be fully moved into our house yet, but I still wanted to share some fun ideas for Thanksgiving tables.  The key for something like Thanksgiving (or Christmas) is to not go too crazy. Choose one element rather than many. There are often so many dishes on the table that all of your hard work can get lost. Perhaps select just a single centerpiece, or just a fun placecard or napkin.

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DIY decor and details at fall festival

My colleague, Brie, planned this fabulous fall festival at the Brixton Restaurant in Washington, DC. The weather was perfect, so the group was able to take advantage of the rooftop. Brie did all of the decor herself (can we say glitter pumpkins!) and with some crafty volunteers, and designed a fun menu, including a DIY trail mix bar, a chili bar, and signature drinks.

fall festival DIY decor

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pumpkin week – recipes

fall pumpkin recipes | amanda jayne events blog

All good things must come to an end – and thus I’m bringing pumpkin week to a close (and the world heaves a collective sigh of relief!), but not without first sharing some of my favorite tried and true pumpkin recipes! I don’t usually share recipes on this blog, but with pumpkins, I just can’t help myself! Plus, most of these recipes would be great DIY additions to any dinner party or at-home soiree. Each and every one of these recipes is personally vetted by yours truly (and personally taste tested by my husband!). Grab a knife and fork and enjoy!

To start off, let’s talk about this Pumpkin French Toast Bake. First of all, brunch is my favorite meal ever. My favorite part about this recipe is also the reason I don’t make it all that often: it’s a make-ahead dish. You put it together and let it sit overnight, letting the pumpkin flavors saturate the bread. It’s absolutely worth the effort, but I either don’t plan ahead often enough, or I’m too much of an instant gratification type (spoiler alert – that’s the one my husband would agree with), so I haven’t made this dish too many times. But it’s a great addition to any brunch – would be lovely for a bridal or baby shower brunch, or just a gathering with friends (assuming you want to share!). Recipe via Minimalist Baker:

pumpkin french toast bake

Moving on to soups – I first discovered this Harvest Pumpkin Soup last year after receiving an immersion blender for Christmas (this is an excellent gift, actually) and trying to try lots of stovetop soups (usually I made soups in a crock pot). This one was excellent – it wasn’t overly pumpkin flavored, so those in your household who don’t LOVE the taste of pumpkin (how un-American!) will still enjoy it. If you actually make it into 8 servings, each serving is less than 200 calories. Of course this doesn’t count the delicious hot, crusty homemade bread that I made on the side… oh well. Recipe via Country Living:

harvesy pumpkin soup

You don’t often see pumpkin in a main course, but this Baked Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo is a delicious exception. This was good – again, not too heavy on the pumpkin flavor – but my only complaint is that it can quickly dry out, so watch out for that. I also didn’t use the mascarpone cheese – I don’t remember what I used instead but it was something I had in my kitchen and it tasted just as good. Recipe via How Sweet It Is:

baked pumpkin fettuccini alfredo

Now – onto dessert (this is where pumpkin really shines). These pumpkin cream cheese truffles are delightful. They aren’t too difficult to make, so long as you lower your expectations surrounding the attractiveness of your truffles. They will not look as perfectly round as these in the photo, but who cares what they look like, they are pumpkin cream cheese truffles! Recipe via The Galley Gourmet:

pumpkin cheesecake truffles

This pumpkin fudge is To. Die. For. I’m not a huge fudge fan (I know, I know – I’m weird), but I love this stuff. Last Christmas I made a few batches and gave them away as Christmas gifts to friends and family, thus extending the joy of pumpkin beyond fall into the Christmas season (you’re welcome). Like all candy, it’s a little temperamental and I definitely recommend investing in a candy thermometer. I make mine sans pecans, but it’s still delicious. Recipe via Recipe Girl:

Pumpkin Fudge

Finally, last but not least, are the most delicious cookies on the planet. These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies somehow manage to be so incredibly fast and easy, AND they taste amazing, moist and flavorful. It’s probably the fact that each cookie is half shortening. But I never promised that these were diet-friendly pumpkin recipes! If you try only one recipe from this collection, try these. You will not regret it. Recipe via Chef in Training:

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Thus concludes pumpkin week! But while pumpkin week is over on the Amanda Jayne Events Blog, it will live on for a few months – at least until Starbucks pulls the Pumpkin Spice Latte in favor of the Gingerbread and Peppermint flavors!

Catch up on the rest of the pumpkin posts:

pumpkin week – catering ideas

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Halfway through pumpkin week and I’m not losing steam! Today I want to share some innovative catering ideas that utilize pumpkin ingredients. These would be great for fall events of any kind – weddings, corporate events, conferences, etc. You might even see something that inspires you to try at home for your next dinner party (I love to try and recreate recipes at home!). Pumpkin is a big enough trend that it now makes frequent appearances on catering menus, especially when the caterer offers seasonal menus. But anyone can do mini pumpkin pies or pumpkin cookies for dessert – I like to see pumpkin used in more interesting ways.

Most of these ideas are from caterers so they don’t link to a recipe – but if something strikes your fancy, ask your caterer if they can offer it at your next fall event.

Spicy pumpkin soup shooters – everyone loves shooters! Recipe from 52 Kitchen Play:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Pumpkin & prosciutto crostini – photo via The Daily Meal:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Pumpkin arancini –  Recipe via Bittersweet Blog:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Risotto pumpkin parmesan balls – from Lisa Perkins Catering:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Pumpkin mousse – from Ridgewells Catering:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Pumpkin rice pudding – Recipe from Not Without Salt:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Pumpkin cake pops! (These are pretty simple, but you can obviously make these more theme-y – like these). Recipe by Food Network:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

And finally – the ubiquitous (but still delicious) mini pumpkin cheesecake – recipe via Life Made Simple:

pumpkin catering ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Don’t those just make your mouth water? Talk to your caterer, stat!

Stay tuned for the rest of Pumpkin Week:

Top photo – mini pumpkin pies, recipe from Lauren Conrad

pumpkin week – fall wedding inspiration

pumpkin wedding ideas | amanda jayne events blog

For day two of pumpkin week, I wanted to look at some sophisticated ways to incorporate pumpkins into a fall wedding – it’s not just for Halloween nuptials! I will avoid discussing centerpieces, since I hit that yesterday. But there are plenty of other ways to have pumpkins make an appearance – from live pumpkins serving as décor, to a pumpkin design that can be featured in your printed stationery. Grab that pumpkin spice latte (I had my first of the season yesterday!) and enjoy:

You can set the pumpkin harvest theme before your guests arrive by incorporating pumpkins into your invitation design. I think these are really sweet – it’s fall without bashing you over the head. I also like that the color is muted – some brides may not like the bright orange often associated with pumpkins.  These are available from Etsy seller Essentialimages:

pumpkin wedding invitations

Also for pumpkin stationery, you can add pumpkins to your escort cards or table numbers, such as this pumpkin design suite. I like this one because the white pumpkin is subtle and reminds me of a certain famous pumpkin from Cinderella – what a fun, subtle way to pay homage to THAT fairy tale wedding without going full-blown Disney princess! Available from CharonelDesigns:

pumpkin wedding stationery

For ceremony décor, I love the idea of lining the aisle with pumpkins, especially for an outdoor wedding (although I’ve seen it work indoors as well!). If you want to go a bit more rustic with the harvest theme, you can use bales of hay as well (a la the first photo). Photo via EventsAtTheFarm.com:

pumpkin wedding ceremony decor

I love mini-pumpkins (actually gourds) and I think they would make a fun escort card. You could really make this your own with the way you attach the escort card – I love the idea of an elegantly printed card tied to the mini-pumpkin with twine – both sophisticated and rustic! Photo via Event Now:

mini-pumpkin wedding escort card

For wedding décor – for the ceremony or the reception – there are plenty of ways to utilize carved or decorated pumpkins. There is the Mr & Mrs Pumpkins, such as below, or pumpkins carved with the wedding date. I’ve even seen silhouette pumpkins! You can do this with real or artificial pumpkins. These are artificial ones from Etsy seller purpleinkgraphics:

carved pumpkin wedding decor

I also love these stylized “Love is Sweet” pumpkins – you could do this with any phrase or quote. These particular ones would look amazing on the cake table or next to a dessert buffet. Photo via Want That Wedding:

pumpkin wedding decor - love is sweet

Table numbers are another way to use pumpkins. You can paint, stencil or even carve the numbers onto the pumpkins. I really like the way this one is paired with a tall floral centerpiece. Photo via Whimsy Decor:

pumpkin wedding table numbers

But I think this one is really unexpected – the white pumpkin (you can get this effect by painting as well) with the table number tied to it. Again, you can complement the motifs of your event through the font and materials you choose here. I love this! Photo via Janet Howard Studio:

wedding pumpkin table number

I’m not a huge fan of actual pumpkins as favors unless you think your guests would love that (and I prefer favors that people actually use!), but you can still use the pumpkin theme with favor boxes, such as these. Available via Etsy seller alittlemorerosie:

wedding pumpkin favor box

I also love these gift tags. They don’t exactly have a pumpkin on them (sorry, I’m cheating!) but they definitely fit with the theme. These would be lovely on a bottle of apple cider or pumpkin ale. Available via Etsy seller 33PaperLane:

fall wedding favor gift tags

Finally – if you ARE going to incorporate pumpkins into your wedding, don’t forget to get this photo! Photo via Koru Wedding Style – by the way, I got my wedding invitations from Koru Kate’s wedding shoppe and I highly recommend her if you are getting married in the NYC/NJ area!

wedding pumpkin ring photo

Phew! I bet that’s more pumpkin than you thought possible! Of course, you would want to pick and choose what worked best for you – you don’t want pumpkin overload! Editing down is always important!

Stay tuned for the rest of Pumpkin Week:

pumpkin week – pumpkin centerpiece ideas for parties, weddings & events

brace yourselves - pumpkin flavored everything is coming!

While everyone is bemoaning the end of summer, they are missing the giant silver lining that comes with fall: pumpkin! Of course, the best part of pumpkin melee that descends upon America every fall is Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was sure to ask the barista at the Starbucks near my office last week when they would begin pumping it intravenously serving the fall favorite, and was told their store begins on September 1. That means that we’re actually THREE DAYS into fall! And as far as I’m concerned, since DC doesn’t get particularly fall-like weather-wise, pumpkin spice lattes still symbolize fall even though I can’t break out my sweaters and knee-high boots until late October, sometimes even November.

Aside from pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin-everything really does take our country by storm. Pumpkin doughnuts at Dunkin Donuts. Pumpkin coffee k-cups. Pumpkin beer. Pumpkin ice cream! And of course, that doesn’t even include the pumpkins that are traditionally associated with the fall – carved pumpkins for Halloween and pumpkin pie!

So in my little corner of the blogosphere (what a funny word!) I decided to devote an entire week to pumpkin posts, on how we can incorporate the nation’s obsession into events, weddings and meetings.

To start, I wanted to feature some non-obvious pumpkin centerpiece ideas. Anyone can put a pumpkin on a table, through some fake leaves and maybe a cornucopia and call it fall-like décor. But check out these ideas, some work for fancier events, others would be a great DIY project while entertaining at home:

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