A Very Vignette Thanksgiving

November 25, 2013by Dave StawinskiInside Vignette


Before I carve this post up into delectable slices for you to enjoy, all of us at Vignette want to thank our wonderful clients and partners, and our amazing team, for the great work they do and the great people they are. Gratitude. The soul of the season.

OK, let’s cook!

If you read Carolyn’s Halloween post, you know she is a “Halloween Person.” Well, I, my friends, am a Thanksgiving Person. It has always been my favorite holiday. Since we have been living in Portland, we’ve had dinner at our house each year for our friends who, like us, don’t have family in town to spend it with. It’s our “Expatriate’s Thanksgiving,” and we love doing it.

Yes, I am about to cop to a lot of Thanksgiving Know. Arrogant considering the company I’m in, right? Seen Martha Stewart’s food tweets lately? Yeah. Competition neutralized. But as I was saying, my SO and I have hosted our share of Thanksgiving feasts, and I thought you might like a BULLET LIST of what they all have in common that makes them so… I don’t have the words. Anyway here we go.

  1. Guests: Go big. This is your chance to tell people you are thankful for their presence in your life, for their friendship, and for their continual willingness to listen to you prattle on. Also they will all bring booze, thus stocking your bar to a nice, respectable holiday level.
  2. Protein: Don’t mess around here. I’ve seen shortages of rutabaga, or green bean casserole, or even mashed potatoes slide without too much hubbub. You don’t want to run out of, or under-cook, or overcook, or in any way create a scarcity of, Turkey. Just don’t. Plan way ahead here. Buy it two weeks in advance if you have to. You want that T-hen approaching room temperature and ready to stuff (yep, food science nerds, I went there) by the time you wake up Thursday morning. This year we are doing two birds.  Roasting one and smoking the other. See what I did there?  I respect the Tom.
  3. Sides: I have two rules for sides. First, ask other people to bring most of them. I’m not cheap, but we only have so much oven and cook-top real estate. Second, try to have one or two things that were special to your family when you were a pup. You get to see what other people think of onions au gratin, or rutabagas. That’s fun.
  4. Gravy: My wife makes the best. So, sorry about that. But you can try. Usethe juices from the roasting pan with the solids strained out, plus flour, butter and other delicious things you will Google to make your own. Make a couple of gallons per person. Seriously, it goes fast. Jars are for leftovers.
  5. Drink: Bring it on. Champagne and turkey are, like, AMAZING together. The bubbly is a perfect palate cleanser as you move between a nip of this and a nibble of that. Some people go for pinot (here in Oregon that’s pretty popular).  But for a TG red I like Zinfandel. Not because it goes particularly well with the food, but because it is American, dammit.  Also, a nice late-autumnal cocktail will do you proud. I like bourbon with just a dash of bourbon.
  6. Game face: Don’t forget that there’s an element of competition here. Just because you’ve been cooking for three days, don’t feel like you’re exempt from a significant portion of the real work. My sister and I have a tradition of fasting until dinner on TG.  This has two benefits. First, you can pack away a boatload of grub. Second, you’re awesome at talking politics and religion with anyone around when you’re hungry as hell. Seriously, just stay out of the kitchen until my blood sugar fully bottoms out, then come get a hug.
  7. Kids: Don’t have your own?  Invite people with some. You need kids to experience holidays properly. They are living gleefully in the moment and, today, so should you. Spoil them with a fun activity or two, and they need their own table (this is enlightened self-interest).
  8. Sports: Some people’s TG is incomplete without football. Have a sports retreat room with your best TV and on-site libations and let them do what they have to do.
  9. Dessert: Yes you will need to save room for the world’s most seasonally appropriate dessert: Pumpkin pie.  Or not.  But something nice to drink after dinner is cool, too. I have some locally made Noccino this year. Portlandia!
  10. Last but not least, Cleanup: That’s why all the guests… As the Agency for Employees, we should have something to say about motivating your guests to become, in the final throes of their stamina, your domestic staff. Tacky? Not as tacky as your kitchen will be after two or three days of ripening. Seriously, it’s the least they can do while you fix the sofa.
  11. Bonus Bullet: Everyone loves leftovers. Don’t be greedy.

OK, time to get psyched! Thanksgiving has it all.

Finally, see that comments section down there? Maybe you could use it to tell us what you’re thankful for this year.

We’d love to hear from you.

Dave Stawinski

With nearly 20 years of production experience working for leading digital agencies such as DNA Studios, BLITZ and Second Story, Dave has managed a large number of diverse projects and teams. Over the years he has managed important projects for clients like LOFT, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Honda, Anheuser-Busch, Sony Pictures, Disney, Microsoft, HP, the Library of Congress and others.