Christina Tosi of Milk Bar and “MasterChef Junior” ; Photo: Fox Image Collection/Getty Images
Whether you’re planning your first Thanksgiving or your 15th, striking a balance between celebratory and cozy should be every host’s goal. Otherwise, you risk putting your guests on edge, says pastry chef Christina Tosi, mastermind behind the beloved high/low bakery Milk Bar and judge on “MasterChef Junior.”
“You definitely shouldn’t pretend to be anything you are not,” says Tosi. “Guests are not going to be comfortable if someone is trying to make a super fancy dinner under pressure because they’ll be stressed out the entire time.”
Instead of pouring on the frills, the creator of renowned treats such as Milk Bar’s Crack Pie, Cereal Milk ice cream, and Compost Cookies recommends sprinkling a few splurges throughout the evening in ways that feel personal and festive but ultimately easygoing.
Here are her tips on how to pull it off:
Set the Scene
“The biggest high of Thanksgiving is the tableau setup,” says Tosi. “Dress up the table, put some fun quirk into it with lace or doilies.” Or, make the decor specific to the people joining you. For instance, Tosi suggests putting a favorite magazine or book at each place setting. “I think spending that extra time is what it’s all about,” she says.
Invite Your Guests to Potluck the Rest
“My mom was a working mom, so the way that we always did Thanksgiving was inviting people over and encouraging them to bring the one dish that they loved and was super special to them,” recalls Tosi. “The thing about this holiday is that a lot of those dishes are about nostalgia. And if we don’t find excuses for digging those old recipes up and bringing them into the light, they disappear. Sometimes you end up with four different cranberry sauces on the table but that’s part of the fun and it becomes a tasting.”
Leave the House!
“Invite your guests out for a cocktail somewhere fancy before eating dinner back at your place,” suggests Tosi. “There’s something fun about getting dressed up for Champagne, cocktails, and gougeres at your favorite bar then coming home for a cozy meal. Or, you could also do it as a nightcap to make sure you won’t have any guests staying over.”
Turn Leftovers into Gift Bags
“I always have enough to-go containers to make sure people can take leftovers as they leave,” says Tosi. “That way they can remember the meal and what a great time they had later in the week and you’re not sitting at home eating leftovers every day and loving yourself/hating yourself.”
Sweet relief: Tosi’s Milk Bar has two Thanksgiving-inspired desserts this season only available for the month of November. The Pumpkin Pie Cake is 6 inches, feeds 8-12, and costs $42, and a dozen Pumpkin Pie Cake Truffles are $16. Both are available at milkbarstore.com