The holiday season is in full swing, meaning it’s time to prepare for gatherings with loved ones and joyous celebrations. This issue of American Lifestyle is here to help make it a little easier with tips for organizing your kitchen, a comprehensive guide on delivering a delicious holiday meal, strategies for saving on airfare, and a look at one eco-friendly gift wrap company.
As you get ready to host loved ones for the holiday season, you may be looking for ways to transform your kitchen into a functional and organized space. The article in this issue provides practical strategies to whip your kitchen into shape, allowing you to better focus on creating memorable moments with your loved ones.
This Thanksgiving, gather your family and friends around a beautifully set table to share an unforgettable dining experience. Inside, you’ll find strategies for setting the perfect holiday table as well as three delectable recipes worth trying.
Airfare can get expensive this time of year, making it important to do your research so you can get the best price possible. To help you better navigate the various complexities of airfare pricing, check out the enclosed guide, which offers tactics for finding the best deals possible.
Gift wrap is a simple yet effective way to add a little personality and style to your presents for loved ones—and now, it allows you to give back too. Patrick Keeny and Patrick Kling, founders of Giftiply, offer an inside look at what makes their sustainable wrapping paper so unique, including how it benefits the company's nonprofit partners.
Here’s to a wonderful season spent with those who mean the most to you! As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Hosting guests for the holidays can be a monumental task, especially when it involves being responsible for everyone’s meals over the course of a few days. Between shopping, prepping, doing the dishes, and trying to meet each person’s needs, your to-do list can quickly get overwhelming. The better prepared you are mentally and physically, the greater the chances are that things will go smoothly. Here are some strategies for whipping your kitchen into shape and transforming it into a functional space for everyone to enjoy.
Before you can do anything else, you need to clear out the clutter. Temporarily move any small appliances you don’t need for the holidays to the basement or a cabinet to free up counter space. Then tackle the piles of mail and assorted junk sitting on the counter that have been haunting you for weeks. If you don’t have time to go through them, put them in a box and remove it from the kitchen so you can focus on the tasks at hand. Lastly, throw away any expired food hiding on the shelves of your pantry and fridge, and keep your grocery shopping light until the holidays. Instead, focus on using up what you have to keep the spaces clear.
Now that you can see more of your kitchen, it’s time to do a thorough scrub of the counters, stovetop, and floors along with the appliances that may be tackled less often. For instance, clean the walls of your sink with an industrial-strength cleaner, such as Bar Keepers Friend for stainless steel. Next, pour some baking soda in the drains to deodorize them, letting it sit for ten minutes before following up with some hot water.
This is also your opportunity to do a deep clean of your fridge. Take everything out, and wipe down the shelves. If you have drawers, remove and wash them using warm, soapy water and a sponge. And to prepare your oven for its upcoming marathon, make sure it’s free of spills and baked-on food by running its self-cleaning cycle or using an abrasive scouring pad on stubborn stains.
Consider what worked and what didn’t about previous visits and holidays, using that as a guide for what to make or purchase this year. Be sure to factor in the food preferences and allergies of your guests to formulate an offering that everyone can enjoy. If you know certain family members or friends have a nostalgic attachment to specific recipes or foods, try to incorporate those when possible. Then make a detailed grocery list to maximize your efficiency once you hit the aisles.
After everything is clean and decluttered and you’ve made your cooking game plan, it’s time to stock the pantry. Make sure your staples, including your grains, flour, and spices, are filled up, and get a head start on anything on your shopping list that is shelf-stable, like canned and jarred goods, baking ingredients, and snacks.
Some of what you need for the fridge, like fresh produce, will have to be purchased a day or two before your guests arrive or before the big meal. But other items like meat, seafood, and poultry can be bought sooner and stored in the freezer. Think about what you’re planning to offer for breakfasts and lunches. If you don’t want to be cooking for all three meals, consider filling your fridge with cold cuts and sandwich fixings along with yogurt, fruit, and other quick-grab snacks so guests can help themselves.
Sectioning off parts of the kitchen or pantry will help you stay organized, enabling you to quickly find what you need during meal prep. It will also make it easier for guests to know where to find items like cereal, bowls, and silverware. If you have time, label the areas to better ensure everyone can be as self-sufficient as possible.
You might get by with only one sauce pan in your daily cooking, but you’ll need more than that to prepare large meals for many people. Either buy more pots and pans or borrow from a friend or family member, and make sure you have enough mixing bowls, chef’s knives, and cutting boards for those sous chefs wanting to help. If there are any gadgets, like a food processor, that would be useful for the recipes you are planning, consider buying or borrowing those as well.
Check that you have a sufficient number of bowls, plates, and utensils for the number of people you are hosting. To fill in any gaps, visit a thrift store or borrow some extra sets from a friend. You could also consider having disposable plates on hand for quick lunches like sandwiches. Obviously, you’ll want to use regular dinnerware for main meals, but this will give you a nice breather from having to wash plates three times a day.
Do you have a coffee maker? Stock up on coffee grounds or pods, and have different creamers in the fridge for various tastes and preferences. Also, make sure to set out mugs and spoons so people can help themselves. For the noncoffee drinkers, provide an assortment of tea bags and an electric kettle if you have one. And if you want to be extra fancy, fill up a glass jar with some delicious biscotti.
A clean and well-organized kitchen is a great way to prepare for hosting guests. Knowing where everything is and what you have in the pantry and fridge will make it easy to feel prepped and organized, allowing you to shift your energy from being stressed about your task list to feeling excited to embrace the ones you love.
Celebrate the warmth and abundance of Thanksgiving by hosting a delectable meal that perfectly captures the essence of the holiday season. From decorating your dining table to prepping delightful dishes, this guide can help you create an environment of joy as you gather with loved ones to give thanks.
Discover how you can craft an inviting and well-decorated dining table that delights your guests and ties the evening together.
Try this delicious take on traditional Italian porchetta, featuring a succulent turkey breast seasoned with a fragrant blend of fennel and garlic and wrapped in crispy bacon.
Rye and pumpernickel bread transform this Thanksgiving staple, which is infused with the rich flavors of rosemary and sage.
Elevate your side-dish game with this flavorful kohlrabi mash topped with a delectable brown-butter crumb your guests will love.
The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful time to come together with friends and family, and one aspect that often takes center stage during these gatherings is the dining table. You may find yourself pondering seating arrangements, decor choices, and how to make everything work seamlessly. These strategies can help you along the way, allowing you to better enjoy the precious moments with those you love most.
Before diving into your Thanksgiving preparations, it’s essential to know who will be joining you for dinner. Begin by creating a guest list, then send out invites via email or text, keeping track of who has confirmed. Having even a ballpark idea of the number of people attending will help you prep your home and menu accordingly, enabling you to cook enough food and create enough space for everyone.
Decorating your dining room for the holidays is one of the best ways to make it inviting to your guests. Take a moment to decide on a theme that resonates with you. Would you like to embrace the traditional autumn hues and incorporate fall gourds, or would you rather create a cozy ambience with plaid linens and candles? Besides your personal preference, consider the tone of your gathering, whether it’s a formal dinner or a relaxed evening with friends. Once you’ve selected your theme, you can use it to pick your linens, dishes, and decorative elements such as a centerpiece and florals.
Creating an optimal seating arrangement can be tricky depending on the space you have to work with. A larger dining room should be able to accommodate everyone. But if space is lacking, you could add an extra table and chairs in another room of your house, such as a kids’ table in your living room. This will ensure your guests have ample room to enjoy the event without feeling cramped. Additionally, if you’re aiming for a formal setting, consider assigning seats ahead of time using place cards. For a more casual gathering, though, keep seating open, allowing your companions to sit wherever they want.
Your dining table will be where you’ll spend most of your time together, so it’s crucial to put effort into making it a welcoming and visually appealing space. Begin by laying down a tablecloth or runner, or a combination of both, that complements your chosen theme. Then add place mats, charger plates, centerpieces, and other decorations that enhance the table’s aesthetics.
Once you’re satisfied with the overall look, arrange your glasses, plates, utensils, and napkins. As a general guideline, forks should be placed to the left of the plates while knives and spoons go to the right. Drinking glasses can be positioned at the top right, while napkins are typically placed in the center of the plates. However, you can adjust this arrangement according to your table size and specific needs.
Now comes the star of the show: your Thanksgiving menu. The holiday typically involves many staple dishes, including turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, which may leave you wondering where everything will go on the big day. To help you plan the best way to arrange your various foods, take out the serving dishes you want to use and position them throughout your table. This will give you an idea of what fits where and how your guests will access each portion of the meal. If there’s not enough space on the table, you could also set up a separate area for food, such as on your kitchen counters.
In need of inspiration for your Thanksgiving meal? Be sure to check out the three delicious recipes included in this issue, all of which offer unique twists on classic holiday favorites.
With your foundation in place, it’s time to fine-tune each element. Take a moment to evaluate your decor and settings. You may find that you’re no longer fond of the plastic pumpkins in the center of the table or that the candelabra is too tall and would hinder conversation. Make any necessary changes to ensure everything looks perfect and you’re happy with the overall setup.
With extra preparation, your holiday gathering can be a stress-free and memorable occasion, allowing you to fully cherish the time spent with your loved ones.
recipe by patterson watkins
photos by patterson watkins
Porchetta is a traditional Italian roast stuffed with fennel, garlic, and herbs. Instead of pork, this recipe uses a turkey breast rolled in a tempting layer of bacon.
Tip: Gravy, cranberry sauce, and all the other Thanksgiving fixings pair perfectly with this roast.
recipe by patterson watkins
photos by patterson watkins
Try a little change of pace from classic stuffing with this version, which uses rye and pumpernickel bread instead of the usual sourdough or white bread, giving it a rich, herbaceous flavor.
Tip: Stale bread is best for stuffing. If you have to use fresh bread, toast the cubes in the oven at 350° for 10–12 minutes, or until the bread is crouton-like, before seasoning and baking.
recipe by patterson watkins
photos by patterson watkins
Kohlrabi has a similar flavor to broccoli and cauliflower but is firm like a turnip, making it perfect for a veggie-centric mash side dish. Top it off with a brown-butter hazelnut crumb that has a lovely sweet quality with just a touch of rosemary, thyme, and sage.
There are a lot of misconceptions about “hacking” airfare costs, including the idea that booking on certain days and times will inherently yield cheaper flights. And while this may have been true when online purchasing first began, airfare rates are now determined through complex algorithms that can change the price at any time, leaving ticket seekers confused and frustrated. For instance, have you ever had your session time out when booking a reservation only to discover that the price had increased when you started over? That’s because the algorithm changed in the middle of your search.
Though not always foolproof, here are some tactics you can implement during your search to help ensure you get the best fare possible.
While it is possible to find a deal late, booking last minute is generally going to be more expensive. There are two main factors that affect how early you should begin your search: your destination and when you’re traveling. If you plan to fly domestically during a peak travel time, book your flight three to six months in advance; one to three months is ample time for an off-peak trip. For international excursions, book four to ten months in advance during peak season and two to eight months during the offseason. Additionally, while not a guarantee, you may be able to find lower fares for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday flights since business travelers typically fly on Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays, leading to higher airfare costs on those days.
You can typically get the best fares by visiting an airline’s website directly, but it’s still a good idea to search online travel agencies like Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline to compare prices. For longer trips, these sites will also allow you to combine flights from different airlines to create a single itinerary. Another place to look is Google Flights, a fast flight-search tool known for its user-friendliness. It enables you to search up to twelve months’ worth of fares in a nanosecond, and it will let you know if the fares are good, average, or high for the time you want to travel. Just note that some airlines, such as Southwest, do not post on these sites, so you must go directly to their websites for their fares and schedules.
No-frills airlines generally offer lower base fares, but make sure to factor in the costs for any additional services you may need when comparing pricing. For instance, some discount airlines charge for families to sit together or to have an agent print your boarding pass at the airport service desk. They also tend to have more restrictive cancellation and change policies than full-service airlines. However, if you are OK with paying extra to select a seat and you only need to travel with a small personal item, this can be a great option to get the cheapest fare.
Selecting multiple flights could be more cost-effective than flying nonstop depending on your destination. For example, based on a recent Kayak itinerary, if you’re flying from Los Angeles to London, having even one stop could potentially save you $150. Just make sure to give yourself enough time between your connecting flights.
Additional charges known as “airline junk fees” have been trending upward in recent years as airlines search for new sources of revenue. Rather than being included, these fees, such as for seat selection, early boarding, and in-flight Wi-Fi, are tacked on to your base fare, exponentially increasing the cost of your ticket. Additionally, while the standard checked luggage limit for domestic flights is fifty pounds, some discount airlines cap it at forty pounds and will charge extra for anything above that.
Airlines sometimes make mistakes when posting their fares, which can lead to significant savings for savvy travelers. These mistakes are caused by various factors, such as currency conversion, technical glitches, and even human error, and can potentially save you hundreds of dollars if you know where to look. There are several websites that scour the internet for these airfare errors and flight deals. Going, for example, allows you to sign up for email alerts for error fares that match your travel criteria.
Consider getting an airline credit card, many of which offer travel rewards and bonuses that can be redeemed for free flights and other perks like free carry-ons. Airline websites also offer special bargains throughout the year; sign up for notifications to stay on top of these deals and be informed when new routes become available.
Determining which airlines have the best and worst fares can get complex, so try to be as flexible as possible. Great deals are out there—you just have to know how to find them.
Patrick Feeny and Patrick Kling, founders of Giftiply, discuss their company’s unique approach to wrapping paper that’s centered on sustainability, artistry, and philanthropy.
Patrick F: I have nonprofit experience, having started my own with colleagues in the music industry, and I’ve always wanted to return to it. After the pandemic began, Patrick—who I’ve been friends with since high school—approached me with his idea.
Patrick K: I was doing theme park design for Nickelodeon before our office shut down in April 2021 due to COVID; that situation led me to brainstorm potential business ideas. Looking at my family’s Christmas tree later that year reminded me how much wrapping paper waste has always bugged me. And, being a creative, I thought about the people who design wrapping paper and how you never know who they are. I also have a background in nonprofits, including starting my own, so I combined the three: attaching philanthropy to eco-friendly wrapping paper with unique designs by popular artists. I asked Pat to come in 50-50; with basically a handshake over Zoom, he did.
Patrick F: I remember going to South Central and East LA with my mom, where she would do Medicare enrollment events for her job, and realizing pretty quickly that not everyone lived as we did in Irvine. That stoked my interest from a young age. I’m also an avid outdoorsman, so I’m into conservation and sustainability efforts.
Patrick K: When I moved from LA to Orlando about ten years ago, I started volunteering at a place called Give Kids the World, which provides critically ill children and their families with weeklong wish vacations at no cost. That experience inspired me to always give back in my career, which is at the heart of the Giftiply mission. We think that one decision can exponentially change the world. By buying our products, you contribute money to and spread awareness of a nonprofit.
Patrick K: We’ve always focused on telling stories: about the artists and the nonprofits. The first step of crafting a new design is getting a nonprofit partner on board, so we meet to learn more about them and vice versa. Once that’s done, we give our artist partners the freedom to come up with unique ideas for a wrapping paper based on that organization. Meanwhile, Pat and I stay laser focused on technical things like scale—if a design will look reasonably good wrapped around both a jewelry box and a shirt box—and ensuring that each design is unique.
We then present the nonprofit with a few options, in part because the subject matter can get tricky. For instance, the paper for animal-rescue organization Best Friends features dogs and cats, which everyone’s going to be drawn to. But the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention needs to be a bit more sensitive. We brought them to the table for a good, thoughtful discussion, resulting in the “Words of Affirmation” design.
Patrick F: Our ultimate goal is to turn a nonprofit’s core values into a concept. For example, the “Superhero Bears” design for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is a nod to the teddy bears it gives to the children in hospitals—their heroes. That’s the creative challenge: coming up with a whimsical and reverential design about a serious topic that also inspires others to learn more about it.
Philanthropy is at the core of our products, as 33 percent of every purchase goes to the featured nonprofit. But artistry is also important to us; we see wrapping paper as a new art medium. Our artist partners are passionate about the causes we represent but may not have known how to connect with the philanthropic world. Likewise, nonprofits want to work with artists but aren’t necessarily art managers. We bridge that gap.
Patrick K: Part of our quest to make a compelling product included taking advantage of both sides, so customers can learn more about the nonprofit, the artist, and recycling from the back.
Patrick F: You can only keep people’s attention on the back of wrapping paper for so long. They aren’t used to actually reading wrapping paper, but they are used to scanning things on their phones to get information. That’s why we include a QR code on our products. Online, the possibilities are endless—you’ll even find videos about each nonprofit and direct-donate links to support it further.
Patrick F: In business, the term “eco-friendly” can be nebulous, so we live out our sustainability vision from soup to nuts. Our products and packaging are all 100 percent recyclable and manufactured in the United States, reducing our carbon footprint. We use newsprint, which is the most recyclable paper: it can be recycled up to eleven times. We also utilize soy-based inks, which both have their own unique color and texture qualities and are nontoxic and eco-friendly. You can even make an art project out of our custom packaging—it turns into a paper airplane—and the plastic substitute in our packaging is made from corn.
So integrity is not just a gimmick for us. It’s not enough just to sell wrapping paper; we also must hit our goals of artistry, creativity, and sustainability every time.
Patrick K: The first was creating relationships with nonprofits, some of which only want to work with established companies. A continual challenge is awareness, which is the focus of our second year. It’s all about getting the products out there and spreading the message about our mission.
Patrick F: Another surprising challenge was breaking people’s long-standing wrapping paper habits. We rented a kiosk at the Mall of America to introduce our product and found that shoppers frequently didn’t immediately recognize it as wrapping paper because it’s flat packed. And once they did, they didn’t know how much they could wrap with it because they’re so used to rolled wrapping paper. We now clarify that on our website and emphasize the convenience of being able to easily store the paper in a drawer.
Plus, this is boutique wrapping paper; similar products on Etsy can easily cost $50, so our pricing is extremely competitive. Even still, many people are used to buying an armful of wrapping paper for only five bucks at the dollar store—but we offer a better, more meaningful option.
For more info, visit giftiply.com