Thanksfeast!

Does anyone else crave Thanksgiving dishes before Turkey Day actually rolls around? Several years ago some friends (including my husband to be) and I decided that we just couldn’t wait for the holiday and we better just hold a pre-Thanksgiving training meal. With that, our what-would-become annual “Thanksfeast” was born.
Our Thanksfeast event is essentially an orphan Thanksgiving. However, since all of our friends travel home for the holiday it’s never held on Thanksgiving. Instead, we gather before the holiday to kick off the holiday season together. Here are some shots of last year’s event:

Creating the tablescape is by far my favorite part of the planning!
I am a firm believer in party favors and also in saving money. Last year, I bought mini-jar candles ($2/each) and personalized them with ribbon and scrapbook stickers. Bonus! They acted as my placecards as well.

My husband and I handle most of the food; including freezing sweet corn from the summer and saving it for the occasion. Our dear friends that we started the annual event with (our guest list has grown since then) always contribute a dish or two. Typically it’s a traditional Thanksgiving menu- turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, etc. But this year; I would like to throw in some of Real Simple magazines Scene-Stealing Thanksgiving Side Dishes for a little twist. Yum! Which ones would you choose?

Due to some scheduling conflicts; Thanksfeast will actually be POST-holiday this year – which gives me a couple extra (much needed!!) weeks to prepare! Keep watching for posts on this year’s decor inspiration, invitations and menu planning.

Considering some of the stats from Germany’s Oktoberfest, it may not be something you can replicate exactly in your own backyard. But here are a few ideas on how you could do it on a *slightly* smaller scale.

  • If you don’t want to rent and set-up a tent; take a cue from some of the building/tent roofs at Oktoberfest. This look can be replicated fairly easily with a little rope or wire and streamers a la the blogosphere darling Max & Margaux wedding.
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  • Finding some authentic Oktoberfest tables like these might be a little tough unless you have someone who wants to build them (or drop some cash on one here). But to get that bier hall feeling, a wooden picnic table will do the trick. For centerpieces, fill a few beer steins with flowers or wheat/hops and line them down the center of the table. 

Empty Oktoberfest
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And although I couldn’t find a photo from Oktoberfest that actually shows this runner on a table; it does add to the Bavarian theme and can be ordered from quite a few websites including partycheap.com.

  • Even if you don’t have an Oom Pah Band, you’ll still need Polka music. My personal favorites are The Beer Barrel Polka and In Heaven There is No Beer. 

  • To add just a little more fun, give everyone a Tyrolean hat and set up a photo booth. Beer steins, aprons, talk bubbles with German phrases (Wilkommen! Prost! Danke Schon) and lederhosen could make for some great props. You could also go the route of the Hessen Haus in Des Moines which hosts the local Oktoberfest that I’ll be joining:
Owly Images

  • It should go without saying that you’ll also want to have some German beer on hand. Add custom labels with names like Smithsteiner. And to drink it, you’ll need
DAS BOOT!!!!
Or at the very least, some large steins for all.
Prost!

A couple weeks ago I helped out with the planning for a bachelorette party for one of my very good friends. The party was held in Okoboji, a lake town in northwest Iowa. It’s a fabulous summer getaway and the perfect atmosphere for a laid-back girls’ weekend.
The bride-to-be’s love of margaritas plus our destination easily led to our theme – Okobojiville!

My favorite part of the planning were making the invitations. I had far too much fun putting them together!
 Pocketfolds from cardsandpockets.com
Gratuitious work station/Cricut shot.

The lake house we stayed at already had an interior that lent itself to the atmosphere we needed so the decor was limited; but here are a few shots anyway!

Customized margarita glasses for everyone!

And of course, we had fabulous margaritas! Warm weather may be coming to an end, but you should definitely find a reason to try these:
1 part tequila
1 part triple sec
1 part Grand Marnier 
3 parts non-alcoholic margarita mix

Splash of orange juice

The bachelorette enjoyed her weekend and all the guests had a blast!