Taking Charge of Thanksgiving

By: Irvin Lin

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.

Years ago, through circumstances beyond our control, my partner and I missed out on having a Thanksgiving dinner. Plans had been made, then fallen through, and as we sat on my aging college-era futon, in my tiny 300-square-foot studio apartment in San Francisco, with all our friends gone for the holidays, we made a pact that from then on, Thanksgiving was to be our holiday. We would always host dinner regardless of where we were and who was available. We’ve kept that vow, hosting dinner every single year afterwards, whether it meant making a feast just for ourselves in that same tiny studio apartment (complete with all the fixings and sides) or hosting a double back-to-back feast (Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving) feeding 20+ people both nights while staying at a friend’s condo in Los Angeles.

To me, Thanksgiving is not only the kickoff to the holiday season and the transition from autumn to winter, but also a time for the people I love to come together and celebrate. Nothing brings me more joy than entertaining friends and family. However, this sometimes means preparing food for those with dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten-free, food allergies, religious beliefs, health reasons). Instead of cowering behind the numerous restrictions, I embrace the chance to experiment with different types of foods and different ingredients. Making food for others is what I love most (it’s why I named my blog Eat the Love), and any limitations in my ingredients just forces me to be more creative with what I can use.

I’ve said time and time again that my friends and my family are the most important things in my life. I look at the people I surround myself with and feel blessed that they are there for me, supporting me and looking out for me. One of the ways I can give back to them is by sharing the food that I make. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing their faces light up with delight as they bite into something I’ve made. So it’s no surprise that on my inspiration board you’ll find both food from the holiday season and friends and family who mean so much to me. You’ll see fresh produce from the farmers’ market, my partner and me cooking up a storm, friends laughing, loved ones feasting and the sense of abundance and joy that Thanksgiving stands for. These are the things that inspire me, and these are the things I always think of when the holiday season comes around each year.

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

Irvin Lin is an award-winning baker, designer, storyteller and recipe developer. His blog, Eat the Love, has been nationally recognized by Bon Appetit’s Daily Links, Food 52 News, Saveur’s Sites We Love and Slow Food San Francisco’s newsletter, as well as nominated for Saveur’s 2011 Best of the Food Blog Awards under the category of Best Baking and Dessert Blog. His work has been featured in Yum Food & Fun magazine as well as the recent U.S. MasterChef magazine. Irvin has also led breakout sessions at the 2011 BlogHer Food Conference on topics such as branding, design and bringing blogs to mobile devices. He resides in San Francisco with his partner of 11 years, where he continues to bake and blog.

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