A Beginner’s Guide to Throwing A Thanksgiving Feast – Part 2

Thanksgiving is just around the corner; I can almost smell the turkey crisping up on the BBQ! That’s what we do in California – we BBQ our turkeys!

In our last blog post, I talked about planning your guest list and your invitation. It’s time for us to discuss menu planning and recipes! This will be a busy weekend at the grocery store as everyone begins to stock up for the impending feast so it’s time to get organized!

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, as well as my suggestions for menu planning!

Let’s Eat…

When deciding on the menu, you should first decide if you are the hostess that wants to cook the entire meal, or you are willing to share the glory. In our house, we have always welcomed a ton of people for our Thanksgiving dinners so it would be a huge burden for my parents to prepare all of the food. Plus, our guests have always enjoyed contributing to the feast.

As the hostess, think about providing the main staples of Thanksgiving such as the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. The rest of the menu can be rounded out by the guests. We’ve always found that dishes like mashed potatoes don’t travel very well so it’s better if we cook them versus having a guest bring them later. We divide up the rest of the menu between salad, side dishes, veggie dishes, and desserts. Don’t be shy about asking your guests to contribute! It makes them feel engaged with the party before they even arrive! Be sure to remind guests of the expected time for you to enjoy the meal so you can plan accordingly with cooking times and reheating dishes if needed!


Menu Planning

Easy Recipes…

I’m the queen of appetizers! I believe you can make a whole meal out of appetizers, so therefore, my contribution to the feast is usually always the nibbles we can enjoy while the food preparation is being finished! Here are a few of my favorite dishes I’ve crafted over the years. Both have received rave reviews!

Mexi Dip

1 Can of Chili with No Beans
1 Cream Cheese  (8 oz)
3 Green Onions
1 Can of Chopped Olives
1 Can of Green Chile – chopped (you decide on the heat!)1 Cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for 45-60 seconds. Mix remaining ingredients into bowl. Transfer to microwaveable dish. Cook for 5 minutes, stir and rotate. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Chutney Dip

1 Jar of Chutney (found in the Indian food sections)
2  Cream Cheese (8 oz)
1 Cup of Sharp White Cheddar
1 Tablespoon of Curry Powder (add more as preferred)

Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for 45-60 seconds. Mix remaining ingredients into bowl. Transfer to microwavable dish. Cook for 5 minutes, stir and rotate. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add additional Curry Powder to taste. I have also added red chili flakes for additional heat. Serve with crackers. Can be served at room temperature.


What’s your favorite recipe for Thanksgiving? Share in the comments below!


A Beginner’s Guide to Thanksgiving…

Since your Halloween costume is now a memory, and the candy bowl is slowly diminishing, it can only mean we have rolled into November! Is this the year you’ve raised your hand and volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at your house? Be brave! It’s not as scary as you think!

Over the next few weeks, The Henley Co. lifestyle team will help you to create and execute a plan to design the ultimate Thanksgiving feast! Pull up a chair and come hungry!

The success of any party starts with the guest list. As long as the right people are in the room, you can turn any night into a party! Start by making a list of the family and friends you would like to invite. Remember, as the host/hostess you have the final say on who gets invited. Family dynamics can always rear up during the holidays; take this time to mend bridges or to create new memories. Set the rules that drama gets left at the door, and only gratitude can enter!

With the influx of electronic communication, there is no need to clutter your guests in-box with one more message. Instead, stand out from the crowd and send a snail mail invitation. Your guests will be surprised that a beautiful invitation has arrived in their mailbox, and it will set the theme for the festivities to come. The internet is ripe with easy to use electronic invitation sites that allow you to design online and then print to paper. Here’s a super easy invite I whipped up using Canva.com.

We would be GRATEFUL if you joined us for a Thanksgiving Feast!In the weeks ahead, we’ll focus on menu planning, shopping lists and the evening entertainment to keep all of your guests happy!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory? Share in the comments below!


Top 15 Places to Go in 2015: Cuba, Helsinki, Cape Town – Condé Nast Traveler

I’ve been spinning my globe trying to figure out where my travels will take me this year. So far Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Italy seem to be topping the list. We are Condé Nast Traveler evangelists, so when they give us their top 15 places to go in 2015, we pay attention!

Top 15 Places to Go in 2015: Cuba, Helsinki, Cape Town – Condé Nast Traveler.

What do you think of their list? Any places you would add? Our travel concierge are currently helping clients to get to far reaching places around the world. Where’s your next great adventure going to take you?

See you at an airport near you!


Take the Daze Out of the Holidays – Ms. Henley’s Guide To A Stress Free Holiday (Part 2)



In yesterday’s post, we gave you the first installment of Ms. Henley’s Guide to a Stress Free Holiday Season. We continue today with #’s 5-7 of the Top-10 List.

7.         Blink:                                                                         

Save yourself a ton of time by getting your lashes done for the holidays. These semi-permanent additions to your look will have you feeling fresh and bright-eyed without spending lots of time in front of the mirror. Most lashes last 2-3 weeks. Don’t forget to book your blow out appointments to save yourself a bad hair day. We all know a good blow out will last a few days – super time saver!

6.         Decorate:                                                                   

Holiday decorating does not have to be stressful. Keep it simple and stress-free by using what you already have around the house and repurposing from one holiday to the next. We have a ton of ideas if you need any help! Simple things like colored rubber bands can change the look of a basic glass vase or Washi tape around a frame can create a more festive feel to a basic frame or chalk board.

5.         Give:   

Be a good guest and remember to bring a hostess gift to any parties you are invited to throughout the year, especially during the holidays. With a little pre-planning you can have easy gifts on hand. Think about gifts that are useful not just decorative. We like useable items! On a recent trip to Target we found an adorable cookies for Santa tray; which we paired with the ingredients for making and decorating sugar cookies. Wrapped up in a festive bow and you have an easy, yet functional, hostess gift that will be appreciated.


“Think back to when you were a child – do you remember the gifts you opened or do you remember the moments spent with family, friends and enjoying the merriment? Keeping the holidays simple is a choice! Let this be the year that you delegate the “stuff” and focus on being “present” in every moment. “

~Nicole Matthews, Lifestyle Architect
The Henley Company

Part 1: Take the Daze Out of the Holidays – Ms. Henley’s Guide to a Stress Free Holiday Season

We recently had the pleasure of doing several in-home concierge parties, focused on helping clients to take the daze out of the holidays. It gave us an opportunity to present our Ms. Henley’s Guide to a Stress Free Holiday Season. Over the next few days, we will share with you a few of our top-10 list tips so you too can have a stress free holiday season! shopping_clipart

10.       Plan:                                                                           

The average woman spends 60-80 hours preparing for the holidays. This includes shopping, cooking, wrapping and attending events. Be strategic about navigating the holidays and make a plan early in the season. Plan time to bake, shop, write holiday cards, etc. so that you don’t feel crunched for time as the holidays get closer. Decide what can be delegated to your holiday elf!

9.         Commit:                                                                   

Remember what the reason is for the season! As a family, come up with 3 words that you want to signify your experience during the holidays. (i.e. Family, Joy & Peace). Post these words in a visible location so it continually stays top of mind. Before saying yes to any invitation, activity or commitment, make sure saying “yes” falls in line with your family values. Turn this into a new family tradition.

8.         Travel:                                                                    

If holiday travel is on your agenda; try these two tips:

  • Don’t let parking at the crowded airport cause you stress; instead call ahead and reserve your spot.
  • Sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. in the city where you are traveling. Offers great suggestions on fun and unique activities at a discounted price.

Check back tomorrow for tips #5 – #7 on the Top-10 List!

A woman should not measure her value by what gets crossed off her to-do list; but rather by the level of happiness in her heart, and the kind of wife, mother, sister and friend she becomes. Juggling lots of balls should be left to the circus acts – be a woman who values time over “to-do,” and commit to a lifestyle that focuses on unique experiences, family memory-making and sophisticated simplicity.  

Nicole Matthews, Lifestyle Architect
The Henley Co.