by will ellis photography


it was an untraditional thanksgiving in 2001, right before i left california. all of my stuff was carefully packed and making its way to nyc on a moving truck. and sure, i was invited to spend the day with some friends, but i made the brilliant decision to self-indulge with one last luxurious hurrah in my ca apartment. and i don’t regret that choice one bit.

my gourmet thanksgiving meal that year? enough bowls of captain crunch berries to not have leftovers. my entertainment of choice? bingeing sex & the city, of course. (what else were we doing in 2001?) my thanksgiving? one of the best i’ve ever had. and i mean that!

reminiscing about that wonderful, low-key holiday has inspired my family to make untraditional thanksgiving plans for this year as well. because of covid, we won’t be doing any of our normal activities… and with the whole holiday flipped on its head, we couldn’t be more excited.

while far from formal, our thanksgiving will be no less festive. in fact, it has the potential to be one of our most memorable to date. i’ll let you in on our grand plans…


by emily gilbert photography

the entertainment

traditional times

it has been our family’s tradition (me, my husband, and our daughter) to travel somewhere new (past trips have included hong kong, cambodia, and paris). or, when not traveling, to trek to central park west to join the crowds watching the macy’s thanksgiving parade. the sights, the smells, and the ambiance of a bustling nyc are always an exciting start to the day. coming home to warm drink after being in the crisp outdoor air? deliciously cozy.

untraditional thanksgiving twenty-twenty

given our mid-pandemic state, we will be doing our part in avoiding the crowds this year. and although televised, we won’t be watching the parade either. we’ve been spoiled with the real deal for too many years, and watching it on tv… well, it would feel underwhelming.

instead, we plan to binge-watch our latest netflix favorites. schitt’s creek tops the list. it’s a comedy series full of pithy dialogue (seriously, you have to watch it twice to actually hear all the jokes), gut-busting laughter, and good-time family feels.

also on our list… emily in paris. an unashamedly gratuitous yet apt depiction of life, culture, fashion, and of course, food in paris. nearly as funny as schitt’s creek, but with far better eye candy.

the attire


image source

traditional times

post-parade, it has been our custom to return home and get all dressed up for the day ahead. for me, that might mean a stylish cashmere sweater from neiman marcus paired with silk trousers. or a cozy wool knit sweater dress with a pair of new and to-die-for manolo boots. my husband and daughter would then follow suit with sophisticated attire for an elegant meal.

untraditional thanksgiving twenty-twenty

like the rest of our umtraditional thanksgiving, we are taking the high-end attire trend and flipping it on its head, with fancy pjs instead of formal wear. my thanksgiving outfit this year? a gorgeous new silk cami pant set underneath a new alpaca knit capelet. i’ll be cozy and warm without sacrificing style… and a day at home in pjs sounds like the definition of luxury to me.

the drinks


traditional times

once we were all gussied up and ready to start preparing the traditional feast, we have typically begun the celebrations with a champagne toast, expressing gratitude, and savoring the togetherness.

untraditional thanksgiving twenty-twenty

while this ritual could continue this year, since we are switching everything else up, we thought, why not this too?! and discovering this recipe for apple cider bourbon punch in the ny times sealed the deal…

from dark brown sugar and bruised cinnamon sticks to a apple cider, fresh citrus, bourbon, and club soda mix-ins… well, what’s not to love?! i plan to make this early in the day so that we can sip this delicious cocktail concoction all. day. long. not joking.

if you’re less of a bourbon-lover and want to keep up the tradition of popping some bubbly on thanksgiving day, check out this post with all of my favorite champagne glassware to make your toasting extra special.

the food

darci hether thanksgiving tablescape nyc tribeca candles champagne flute fall leaves


traditional times

i’m accustomed to crafting an elaborate spread for thanksgiving each year. while it is always just myself, my husband, and our daughter, we spare no expense. from candles lit throughout our home to the delicately decorated holiday table, completed with a display of homemade culinary delights, our thanksgiving dinners have always been beautiful and abundant.

untraditional thanksgiving twenty-twenty

while i do enjoy the planning, preparing, and cooking that goes along with the thanksgiving holiday, we are foregoing the whole 9 yards this year. instead, we’ll order in from poppy’s, a gourmet, delish food company based in brooklyn.

believe me, with the eye-candy-filled thanksgiving menu that they have to choose from, our family will still be enjoying a delectable meal this year. but now, we get to enjoy the fancy foods without all of the fuss. (more time for schitt’s creek and emily in paris, right?) i have my eye on a braised free-range turkey, cider glazed delicata squash, and a mushroom risotto. of course, finished with an apple caramel sea salt galette.

even though we aren’t decorating a lavish table this year, that doesn’t mean you have to forego this portion of the holiday. if you’re looking for thanksgiving table decor inspiration, check out my blog post about table settings for a traditional thanksgiving.

the travels

view from airplane window netflix shows to watch thanksgiving emily in paris

traditional times

many times, we’ve taken the opportunity to travel at thanksgiving. since my daughter always has a week off from school at that time, we’ve jetted off to hong kong, cambodia, and paris. we are a family who loves to travel, so these quick jaunts abroad have been something we all look forward to year-round.

untraditional thanksgiving twenty-twenty

in fact, pre-pandemic, our plan was to spend this year’s thanksgiving in italy. which is obviously not happening now. but that doesn’t mean we can’t appease our travel bug in other ways.

once our meal has been enjoyed and we are winding down for the day, we’ll have paris at our fingertips  à la emily in paris (if we don’t finish the whole season before then) or a taste of italy in under the tuscan sun, which is all about renovation and tuscany. yes, please.

tuscany italy vineyardsi can still dream, can’t i? 😉

even though covid is preventing us from traveling, gathering with friends and family, or continuing our annual nyc thanksgiving day traditions, our family is thrilled to be changing it up this year. creating our own special day that is safe, low on fuss, and still fit for royalty.

flipping the holiday on its head doesn’t mean sacrificing all of the things that we love. it just means finding creative ways to enjoy the best parts of the day surrounded by the people who mean the most to us.

so here’s to you and the people who make your life special.


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