By Erica Friedman
ericaThanksgiving is the season for celebrating family and friends, which is why this holiday is my favorite. I always go the extra mile to make the festivities fun for kids and meaningful for everyone else.

I like to start setting the mood with decorations and preparations far in advance of actually sitting down to eat. After Halloween has shut down the scary season, I like to take my children to the local farm. We buy small pumpkins and other festive looking squashes. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to a local farm – just visit your local Trader Joe’s, which has really been getting into the holiday season. You can find pomegranates, small pumpkins, squashes, irregular pumpkins, twigs with small pumpkins on them and beautiful colored oversized leaves. You really do not have to go very far to gather a few items to enhance your table and buffet decor.

Next thing you need to do is come up with a color palette for the table. I tend to lean towards the rich warm tones. I like burgundy, burnt orange, hunter green and harvest yellow. My linens are usually burgundy. Then I take all of the other colors and incorporate them into the centerpieces.

Fresh flowers are an essential party of your Thanksgiving table. I recommend filling glass containers with sliced pomegranates, lemons, limes or oranges, so you can see the inside of the fruit. Then fill the containers with water and top them off with Black Magic Red Roses or your favorite flower. You can use all of the items you gathered and arrange them at the base of the containers on the table, or use them as an accent at the place setting. For example, take the tiny pumpkins and use twine and make them into a napkin rings. Everyone loves those little touches. Finally, I would finish the table with candles.

Of course, the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving is the food. Therefore, I recommend serving nice wines, martinis and scotches with great appetizers when the guests arrive.

For appetizers, a simple cheese platter will do, or you can get fancy and serve bite sized meatballs and tiny quiches. Whether you decide to go classy, simple or fancy, it is nice to offer something while the rest of the meal is cooking. But once the meal is ready and everyone finds their seat around your beautifully set table,it’s time to serve your first course. I would choose between a squash-type of soup or a spinach salad with cheese, cranberries, candied walnuts and a light raspberry vinaigrette.

For the main course, I usually serve via a buffet since there always tends to be more food than will actually fit on the table. Start with a carved turkey (home made or store bought*) and all of the wonderful sides should follow. The sides should include cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, a sweet potato dish, green beans, asparagus, carrot souffle or squash souffle. Regardless of what you serve, it is always nice to make sure there is a starch and a vegetable option.

To finish off this warm and inviting evening, a taste of sweet always wins over the guests. works. It’s always a treat for guests to choose from cookies, fresh fruit, pies and lemon bars to enjoy with their tea and coffee.

Thanksgiving is all about eating and enjoying. Have a wonderful Turkey Day!

Erica Friedman is a party planner who prides herself on producing a wide variety of events including private parties, non-profit benefits, and corporate events. She is dedicated to being innovative and providing her clients with the best possible services. She can be reached at erica@eventsbyerica.com.