November Notes on Gatherings and Gratitude

November 01, 2023

November Notes on Gatherings and Gratitude

As time goes by, we’ve learned to savor the small moments, especially as we prepare for the holidays. Join us in approaching this season with gratitude and simplicity in mind. Slow the pace,  step back from all the hustle and bustle, and enjoy the season your way! Gather with family and friends, celebrate traditions centered in love and togetherness, and fill your surroundings with all the beautiful greenery, ornaments, and sentiments that make you feel at home. Our hope this month is to inspire you to find your joy in giving and celebrating the sparkle of the festive season with grateful hearts.


As you start planning for upcoming celebrations, try to keep a grounded perspective by prioritizing what makes you and your family truly happy and relaxed when you're together. At plj we love to set a tone of simplicity with a neutral palette gracing our home, and tabletops adorned with fresh scented greens and garlands. We keep our holiday table and hearts full with gratitude for the moment by selecting seasonal flowers for arrangements and preparing flavorful dishes that celebrate fall’s bounty. Enjoy the coziness in these moments—focus on joy, love, and togetherness. For what matters most during the  holiday season lies in the connections, traditions, and love we celebrate together.


November is a time of transitions, with October’s crisp fall flair giving way to the onset of proper cold weather in so many places. The chilly temperatures outside inspire a longing to create extra warmth inside, and to share that coziness with loved ones and friends. And at partager la joie we’re forever in love with Thanksgiving for the way it gives us occasion to pause, gather, and reconnect with family and friends over a much-anticipated meal. It’s a moment where we can express our gratitude by giving the gift of ourselves. 


Look at it as a celebration to set the tone for the rest of your festive season—make winter sparkle no matter your beliefs and which holidays you observe. It's a time to come together and express love and hope while making joyous memories we’ll hold dear in our hearts for years to come.


We Are Living Stories — We’ve spent some time lately reflecting on the words of Margaret Atwood: “In the end, we all become stories” (Moral Disorder and Other Stories). As we prepare for our Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends, we’re sure there’s no more fitting time to share those stories, preserve memories of loved ones, and welcome the new connections and stories we create when we’re together. When we gather with relatives and friends we often reminisce about a special time—a memory from a past holiday celebration, a family recipe, or a game we enjoy playing together. The festive season is deeply rooted in such stories and traditions passed down through generations, but these gatherings are also opportunities to let our traditions evolve and to make new stories. 


Time doesn’t stand still. One of our favorite mindfulness practices is consciously deciding where to hold on to the way we’ve always done things, and where to evolve to something new. What we love about this way of thinking is that it is never too early or too late to positively add to or change our own story, the one that fills our hearts and homes with gratitude and kindness. For us, this is the true story of Thanksgiving.


Traditions for Gathering in Gratitude


A Gratitude Tree — This tradition is a lovely way to bring the spirit of giving to your table this season of thanks for families and friends of all ages. Set up a simple bough or a twig tree centerpiece in your kitchen or gathering space, where guests can hang decorative paper tags or handmade ornaments expressing things or people they’re grateful for. At some point during the festivities, gather everyone around with a warm drink and read the messages that adorn the tree.


Seasonal Giving — Prioritize the giving in Thanksgiving by choosing a local charity as a family—a food pantry, shelter, soup kitchen, etc. and find a meaningful way to contribute or make a gift. Traditions like this give us the opportunity to express the spirit of giving and gratitude beyond Thanksgiving day and encourage each of us to grow our giving hearts.


Cuddle up for a Fireside Night at Home — Nothing says holiday time like a family movie night (be it a nostalgic classic or the latest episode of your family’s favorite new series), a game night, or simply relaxing by a fire with the loved ones. See our epicure for seasonal recipes—perfect complements for the kind of evening that can easily become your family’s favorite tradition!


Hosting the Holidays 


At partager la joie, our mantra is, “It’s all about the joy.” Our goal is to provide inspiration and show you an approach that will help you through the planning and hosting process and give  you, the host, more opportunities to savor these special days with your loved ones.


Our Holiday Hosting Notebook

We’ve created a holiday hosting strategy checklist to carry you from Thanksgiving right through the New Year. But before we get into the details, we’re going to give you our bottom line, biggest-picture words of advice for navigating your end-of-year hosting:


⧫ First and foremost, relax, envision your gathering, and then implement your design plan. Remember, elegance can be simple, and it's not about perfection—it's about gathering with those you love and celebrating your gratitude for that connection. If you’re a happy host, everyone will naturally share and bask in that feeling. The key to keeping your own stress low and enjoyment high during the event is to take the time beforehand to plan the details

⧫ Just as importantly, enlist help if you need it. Here’s a little pro tip: let go of the idea of doing everything yourself and embrace strategic outsourcing. For Thanksgiving, that might mean planning a pre-holiday pie-making day with friends, letting guests bring their favorite desserts or sides, or ordering some of the basics from a local market or caterer so you have more time to put your design into the details of the day.

⧫ Be open to new traditions as well. Life continues to evolve, and no matter where your plans take you this year, remember that what really counts is not so much abundance on the Thanksgiving table and sideboards, but an abundance of love and connections in our families and communities. 

Hosting is in the Details—and Here’s How We Do It!

  • Brainstorm a big-picture game plan — Make some notes on how you’d like your gathering to look and feel, whether it is one dinner or a weekend with guests, and then create a timeline for how you’d like it to unfold. Make a mood board if that helps get your organizational creativity flowing! Who is coming? How would you like your table to look? What will your menu be? Is there a theme you’d like to weave through the elements of this gathering? How would you like the gathering to progress? Outlining an overview before you make detailed plans helps you create a gathering that will suit your personal style. 
  • Plan the details — Think about the last time you attended a gathering that you really enjoyed. What made it so special? A welcoming vibe, making connections, spending time with family and friends? You also may remember a delicious meal, a fantastic cocktail, a beautifully set table, exquisite flowers, and a warm and inviting home. While some of these elements may have fallen into place spontaneously, more than likely there was careful attention to detail behind it all. This part may feel a little tedious, but if you work through the planning process and pay attention to detail ahead of time, it soon becomes second nature. Once design planning is in place, hosting is as simple as putting your best foot forward and welcoming the spontaneity of shared enjoyment with your guests.
  • Divide your plan into sections — Once your timeline is clear, block out your event into spatial sections (living space, dining area, guest room, outdoor space, etc.) according to time segments for a clear overview of how your gathering will unfold. If you will be hosting overnight, consider breakfast, brunch, and any indoor or outdoor activities you think your group will enjoy.
    • Get nitty-gritty with the logistics — Here’s where you take a deep-dive into the details. For maximum enjoyment of a day of entertaining that’s tailor-made to fit your style and minimize holiday stress, create checklists for:
      • Shopping — Consider your guest list. Are there any special dietary needs or restrictions to keep in mind? When will you shop?
      • Delegating — Who is bringing what, if you have invited guests to bring a favorite dish? Who is going to help with shopping, prep, and cooking? (Sometimes this is where the best holiday fun is had… share the kitchen joy and make memories for years to come!)  
      • Food prep — What can you make or prep ahead? When will you do this advance prep? Who will help you? What must be done on the day of, or even immediately before serving? If your prep planning is strong, you’ll spend more of the day itself enjoying your guests and the meal. 
      • Cooking —  Coordinating day-of prep and cooking times lets you maximize your kitchen’s potential and minimize your game-day stress. This stage of planning will also help you work out potential logistics problems ahead of time.
      • Serving — When will you set the table? What are your seating solutions and layout for the number of guests you’ve invited? List table setting items and serving dishes you’ll need and brainstorm table design and flowers. Outline how your meal will progress: courses, buffet, plated dinner, or family style? Will you begin with hors d'oeuvres or an apéro? Are you serving soup or another sort of entrée? Will dessert, coffee, and digestives happen at the table or later in front of the fire? (We like to start out with a holiday craft cocktail like our Cranberry Prosecco, an Apple Cider Mimosa or an Aperol Spritz—see our epicure for recipes!) Simply prepare a festive tray, fill your stem glasses, and greet loved ones with a bubbly welcome toast.


  • Overnight guests — Create an inviting, cozy, and restful space your guests can easily make their own. Set the tone with fresh linens, an extra blanket, a small votive of flowers on the nightstand, a pitcher of water, and a drinking glass. Prepare a basket with the necessary essentials for a pleasant, pampered stay, including extra towels and travel-sized toiletries. Small, personalized touches like a welcome gift or curated reading material can go a long way toward making your guest feel welcome and loved. 

  • Give, Gather, and Graze


    We’ve collected both tried-and-true standbys and new faves for your holiday menu planning. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for festive showstoppers, table-brightening sides, brunch comfort, or seasonal sips and sweets. If you add one of our recipes to your November gathering traditions this year, share the joy with everyone in our plj community and tag our Instagram account in your post or stories! 


    Cinnamon Rolls

    Overnight French Toast Bake

    Belgian Waffles 

    Brown Butter Pumpkin Seed Granola

    Pumpkin Nut Milk Latte

    Quiche Lorraine

    Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

    Pumpkin Roll Cake

    Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

    Classic Chicken Soup

    Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts

    Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

    Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

    Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

    Roasted Boneless Turkey Breast

    Simple Herb Stuffing 

    Pumpkin Bread

    Apple Strudel

    Pumpkin Roll Cake

    Cranberry Prosecco

    Apple Cider Mimosa 

    Serenity at Home


    Gather Around — Creating a sense of warmth and comfort in your home will make everyone feel welcome. Keep a basket of cozy slippers or woven socks by your entry door as temperatures drop outside. Where do you love to gather at this time of year? Filling your living spaces with luxurious throws blankets and earthy scented candles will encourage your guests and your family to enjoy the ambience of a crackling fire. Don’t forget about your outdoor spaces! Fill outdoor urns with tiny pines or cypress trees. Add candles, lamps, and simple strings of lights to add both light and cheer. Remember, a little light can go a long way, and nothing can compete with a breathtakingly clear winter sky. 


    Styling a Fall Charcuterie/Cheese Grazing Board — Serving family-style bites is an important part of our holiday agenda! On a large round or rectangular wooden board, tray, or basket lined with parchment, arrange a selection of cheeses—sliced and arrayed, cubed, or whole. We love to place a baked brie in the center of our board, topped with a garnish of choice (see pumpkin shaped brie with honey & walnuts recipe). Display meats shaped into rosettes. Add white ceramic ramekins filled with honey, jams, soft cheeses, hummus, nuts, chutneys, olives, and dips. Arrange seasonal and/or dried fruits: grapes, figs, sliced pear and apple, and dried apricots or dates. Fill in the grazing board with crackers, crisps, and mini toasts and whatever cheese knives, forks, toothpicks, or serving utensils are needed.


    Setting the Table for Thanksgiving — Start with natural elements like boughs and sprigs of greens, and keep arrangements simple—an array of branches on a buffet and low-profile florals or mini potted trees along the center of the table. (We’re feeling inspired by the clean, crisp shapes of olive, magnolia and eucalyptus leaves this season!) Then layer texture and color with a variety of tableware, such as Belgian linen napkins folded or tied in a knot, olive wood serving boards and woven table accents, and plenty of candles in various heights set on a simple, neutral color palette. Accessorize with a touch of personalization—a handwritten card, a mini pumpkin or gourd, a sprig of rosemary, or a personalized ornament at each place-setting. If your gathering includes young children, a small toy or turkey-shaped sugar cookie is sure to be met with delight!

    Surrender to Seasonal Wellness 


    With temperatures getting colder and our inclination, however well-intentioned, to get lost in a frenzy of holiday excitement, we tend to run ourselves down. Now is the time to put wellness front and center. Keep gatherings simple and focused on being together, and plan ahead to avoid exhausting yourself. Outside of those joyous moments of holiday indulgence (which we all love!) prepare healthy meals, schedule downtime for you and your family, and get plenty of rest and quality sleep. Rejuvenate and enjoy this time—seasonal transitions are about creating loving moments that bring joy to cherish with those who matter most.

    Get the Holiday Look


    It’s gifting season! We’re so excited to share our holiday finds with you. Our new Sunday Morning Candle is in stock and ready for setting the mood. We’ve got your festive season travel plans covered in comfort with our organic cotton travel collection, and we’re well-stocked with cozy loungewear( new tops and joggers in white) and chic new accessories. Our beautiful accents for your gathering table are in our timeless home collection—and classic favorites for your hosting needs all year round. Browse our wellness essentials for something to lavish on your loved ones—or yourself—and if you’re looking for a touch of personalized curation, reach out to us! We’d love to assist in creating a customized gift selection for you. 

    Thanks / Giving: the Story is Yours to Write


    Grateful hearts have an endless reach, and this is the season to share the joy with those around us. It's important to remember that the holiday season can be a challenging time for anyone already feeling lonely or grieving a loss. Reach out, in your own way, and remember that even small gestures of kindness can make a difference. Meaningful moments shared can make a huge impact—adding a positive light to another person’s story. Making someone’s day/week/month is easier than you might think. Extend a dinner invitation, make time for coffee or a stroll with a friend, or volunteer to shop for your local food bank or organize a drive that will bring smiles to those in need. The way our individual stories intertwine with the stories of the people around us is one of the great joys of being human. With your heart wide open in both thanks and giving, make the most of the time you have together with the ones you love as you prepare November gatherings grounded in love and gratitude.


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