It's All About the Side Dishes

By: Tami Hardeman

When planning the same holiday year after year, how do you keep your celebration fresh and interesting while maintaining a sense of tradition? We asked our favorite bloggers and food people to share what's inspiring their Thanksgiving planning this year. From ancestor's recipes and falling leaves, to beautiful piles of ingredients and thoughtful home decor, there was no shortage of imagination. See what motivates some of the most creative minds we know, and then start planning your annual feast.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always a very important and lavish holiday at our house: large floral centerpieces; burgundy or gold napkins fashioned in ornate rings; the turkey on a grand platter decorated with fruit and greenery. For me, this was a food event that was all about the side dishes. I was always one for skipping the roasted bird. I’ve never been a big fan of turkey or ham, instead going straight for the soup, salads and stuffing. Now that I’m grown up and hosting my own holidays and a recent convert to vegetarianism, my focus is on wonderful sides and simple decor. It’s not much different than how we cook and entertain for the everyday occasion. Being able to cook for friends and family, and share those recipes on my blog, is a gift I don’t take for granted. We do this quite often and the spirit of Thanksgiving shows up around our house every day.

This year our celebration is set to happen in our home of less than a year. It’s a pretty special place with a spectacular cooking space. We can start with noshes of radish butter or a wonderful cheese plate with a well-crafted cocktail or glass of bubbly while people mill around the kitchen island. A focus on great, quality ingredients is a must. A comforting sip or two of soup to start the meal at the table is too. Interesting preparations of vegetables go without saying. And an emphasis on unique textures, something often missing in the sea of mashed potatoes and bready dressings, is important to me. Everything will be presented on simple white plates with rustic linens, a few patterned vintage serving pieces and a smattering of wildflowers or herbs in jars around the table.

The images I’ve chosen to share with you all look like our every day lives. It's how our holiday dinner will look too, as we give thanks for being able to cook in our wonderful home, be together in a time of health and happiness, and provide nourishment (both literally and figuratively) for the people we love. I hope the same for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

For more Thanksgiving ideas, visit our Thanksgiving Inspiration Board Gallery.

Tami is an Atlanta-based food stylist who has been styling food for close to eight years. As a former fashion stylist, she's combined her loves of food and photography into her dream job. When not on set styling, Tami pursues her passions of food, writing and photography on her cooking blog, Running With Tweezers.

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes from Cooking Channel

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