My first Thanksgiving menu plan ever (and my $3.00 decor)

This year, we're hosting Thanksgiving with my in-laws. It's my first time hosting Thanksgiving and I'm excited! 

(Warning: I'm about to get real suburban on you.) 

Playing hostess makes my heart happy. Preparing a good meal is like putting my love on a plate, and seeing people I love enjoying themselves in our home gives me great joy. I'm so grateful to have our lovely first home — a space we can share with others.

And now, onto the menu. 

Salad

The salad we always make at holidays that doesn't have a name from my brain. I need to snap a photo of it. It includes mixed greens, toasted sliced almonds, feta or goat cheese, mandarin oranges (from the can), scallions and a simple dressing made from balsamic vinegar, sugar and olive oil.

Queso

Queso gets its own category in the McDonald family. It's really not a holiday without it, a fact I quickly learned when I started dating my husband. I found a recipe from Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke that's pretty much the same as the one imprinted in my husband's memory. But he doesn't include meat in his. (Thanks, hubs!)

Photo from kristendukephotography.com

Photo from kristendukephotography.com

Protein

I'm terrified to make a turkey. And I don't think the fam is too excited about a non-meat eater preparing the bird. We're playing it safe and getting some smoked meat from Joe's Kansas City (formerly Oklahoma Joe's). 

Photo from Oklahoma Joe's Facebook page

Photo from Oklahoma Joe's Facebook page

Starch

Ultimate mashed potatoes from Budget Savvy Diva. You can't go wrong with mashed potatoes. Especially when cream cheese is involved.

Photo from BudgetSavvyDiva.com

Photo from BudgetSavvyDiva.com

Vegetable

A traditional green bean casserole. Because it's Thanksgiving. I'm using Paula Deen's recipe via Foodnetwork. Love her or hate her, you can't deny she knows what she's doing in the kitchen.

Photo from Foodnetwork.com

Photo from Foodnetwork.com

Dessert

Pumpkin pie is a must. I'm trying The Great Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

Photo from SallysBakingAddiction.com

Photo from SallysBakingAddiction.com

I'm going all Martha Stewart on you and trying this cute braided crust.

Photo from MarthaStewart.com

Photo from MarthaStewart.com

Office party

Every year at my office, we have a big Thanksgiving lunch with more crockpots than I've ever seen in one place. This year, I signed up for dessert. I'm bringing this pumpkin cheesecake dip from Oh Sweet Basil. It's quick and easy (and yummy), which is all the things I require of weeknight "cooking."

Photo from OhSweetBasil.com

Photo from OhSweetBasil.com

Tablescape preview (my $3.00 decor) 

I'm a thrifty gal, and am quite pleased with the Thanksgiving decor I have planned.

  • I'm almost done making the table runner pictured below out of burlap that I already had (tutorial here). Cost: $0
  • I picked up some lovely fall-colored placemats at the thrift store for $0.50 each. Cost: $3.00
  • I am making a banner for the mantel with this free printableCost: $0
  • As well as utensil holders with these guysCost: $0
  • And I'm going to make this sweet little gratitude tree. Cost: $0

All of my Thanksgiving decorations are totaling $3.00. Booyah. 

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Free printable banner c/o The Tomcat Studio

Free printable banner c/o The Tomcat Studio

Free printable c/o Craftaholics Anonymous

Free printable c/o Craftaholics Anonymous

Gratitude tree via Sand & Sisal

Gratitude tree via Sand & Sisal

Am I missing a Thanksgiving must-have? Help me out, I'm a newb!

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