Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix + A DIY Chex Mix Bar!

Do you know that last half hour or so just before a holiday party starts? That’s usually when I freak out a little bit.

It’s like time suddenly speeds up, nothing is ready, something always burns or spills or breaks (or burns AND spills AND breaks…eeek!). It’s also the moment when I start to worry that guests are going to show up early to find me in the midst of complete and total disaster.

Does this happen to you, too?

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Orange Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake

There's something about cranberries that instantly puts me in the festive spirit--does that happen for you, too? This season I've been working with Ocean Spray to share hosting tips and ideas to make your Thanksgiving go as smoothly as possible--especially for those of you hosting for the first time!

Earlier this week we talked about a few of my favorite hosting tips, and today I want to share a sweet recipe that will be one of your secret weapons when entertaining your Thanksgiving guests.  This one features Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries, which are my forever fave. I always make a point of buying a few extra bags each time I shop--some to use right away, and some to pop in the freezer to enjoy later! They're such a quick and easy way to add color, flavor, and a little holiday twist to all your favorite recipes.

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7 Tips for First-Time Thanksgiving Hosts

Will this be your first year hosting Thanksgiving? (Or do you remember the first time you did?) I was in college the first time I hosted. My brother, who was in the Marines at the time, was unable to come home for the holiday so instead of celebrating without him at home, my parents came down to Washington, DC (where I went to school) for a low-key Thanksgiving in my tiny studio apartment.

I remember prepping for days and cooking WAY too much food for just three people.  (Seriously--I think I made a 22-pound turkey, which is way too much turkey.) It was all delicious, but I could definitely have used a bit more guidance to keep things streamlined and less stressful.

That's why I was excited to team up with Ocean Spray this year to help share hosting tips and advice for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (although these tips will work for everyone, too!).

The best advice usually comes from family, and Ocean Spray reached out to their family farmers to recruit a team of CranMas (AKA cranberry farmer grandmas!) to share their best tips for hosting Thanksgiving. Earlier this month I got to meet some of these amazing women at a Thanksgiving boot camp hosted in Rockefeller Center where we got advice about everything from decorating and planning to cooking, and even cocktails!

Below are a few of my favorite tips from these incredible ladies--as well as some ideas I've learned over the years. (You know...like how you really only need 1-2 pounds of turkey per person.)

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