Ready or not, here come the holidays. We’ve changed the clocks and have been plunged into darkness, and now comes the new torture: unlimited occasions for entertaining, unstructured time with family, and mandatory gift-giving. If that all doesn’t get you, then the sheer volume of waste that occurs during this season will douse any magical flame that was ignited. We can’t help you with detangling your Christmas lights or finding where you stored that menorah, but we can give you some Brooklyn-specific ideas with how to make this event season easier, more economical and also environmentally conscious—from options for setting the table to ensuring no Thanksgiving leftovers are thrown away.
Heritage turkey delivered
Given all of the turkeys you can prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s hard to know which one you should be eating. The answer is the Heritage Turkey. According to this article in Quartzy, unlike the Broad Breasted White Turkey, Heritage Turkeys can actually mate and fly since they haven’t been bred to grow quickly and have enormous, ridiculous breasts. 99% of turkeys are bred for maximum size, with complete disregard for the health of the turkey and causing environmental and health issues. The Heritage, which is related to turkeys that would have been around during the original Thanksgiving, is smaller and more expensive but have a better quality of life—and taste better. At Farm to People, an online farmers market, you can get a Heritage Black Turkey from the regenerative Joyce Farms in North Carolina. According to Farm to People, this family-run farm uses practices that support a healthy environment while providing a tastier bird. They don’t use pesticides, animal by-products, hormones, growth stimulants, or antibiotics. Reserve one right now and have it delivered directly to your kitchen. $9.99/lb, Taking orders while availability lasts with a $75 deposit; choose between Monday, Nov 25 or Tuesday, Nov 26 for delivery. Turkeys arrive fresh and can be refrigerated until Thanksgiving.
Dinner party in a box
Space is always an issue in New York City, and that issue is always highlighted around the holidays. Who has space to store Grandma Dot’s good china or a Pinterest-perfect linen collection? I’m just happy to fit some mismatched silverware in a drawer. The alternative of plastic plates and red solo cups are just adding to the landfill problems. Social Studies is a new company that provides a “tablescape” for every occasion. You choose a look (some options include Color Block for a “Mondrian” look, Provence for a “South of France” elegance, or Joshua Tree for that Insta-bohemian vibe.) Hygge Holiday has just the right vibe for an earthy elegant gathering with loved ones who don’t bicker over politics, drink too much or burn the turkey. Then tell them your dinner count (between 4 and 20 people) and select your party date/ delivery date. A courier will hand-deliver your party package (usually 2 days before the party.) And on the day of your event, just follow the detailed instructions and unpack your tablecloth, dishes, silverware, glasses, candles, personalized place cards, napkins, and (for an additional fee) flowers. In addition, you could add on decoration sets that come with balloons, confetti, and banners (a great option for New Years?) or additional flairs like a wireless speaker, a Bob Ross apron and wig, party games or a DIY Shibori kit to take your party to the next level. Then the day after, instead of spending the day doing laundry and washing dishes, just pack everything back in the box and have it ready for pick up. You’ll have the whole day free to nurse your hangover and post your perfect party photos on Instagram. Social Studies, delivers to Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Hamptons. The price ranges from $30- $60 per person. According to the company, it’s best to reserve at least a week before your event, and you can book up to 3 months ahead if you’re a planner.
If you thought caterers were just for black-tie parties where waiters hand out passed hors d’oeuvres, then you’re in for a treat. In terms of local catering, there are loads of specialty stores that offer upscale cheese boards or bagel breakfasts, but there are also moderately priced catering options that are good for large holiday gatherings where you don’t want to spend a fortune. First off, Wegmans just opened in the Brooklyn Navy Yard (with a parking lot) and all of Brooklyn is excited. What sets them apart from Whole Foods or Fairway is the prices. But also their prepared foods are beyond. In the grocery store, you can order up a customizable pizza, buy a cheese board with hand-labeled signage, indulge in a fresh sushi assortment, build an app platter with shrimp cocktail or charcuterie as well as pasta or salads of every size. Plus, there is every kind of dessert imaginable from whole cakes to vats of cannolis. In terms of pricing, a decent-sized cheese board from Wegmans could run you $20-$30 instead of the $70 from a local cheese shop. For their actual catering department, you can literally order your entire turkey dinner for 6 people for under $150. Having a holiday open house? Jazz up your spread with a lobster and shrimp platter (that includes 18(!) lobster claws) for $100. Want something more casual? Build your own subs with a party platter for $40. Wegmans is known for their subs, and as my friend, Laura Corrin, who grew up with Wegmans upstate says: “I don’t even care about subs, but I’ll eat a Wegman’s subs.” Grab some flowers from their instore flower department, and you’re all set for the party. Wegmans, 21 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn.
Other good catering options include Sahadis, where the middle eastern specialties include trays of 80 mini spanakopita for $50, an assortment of mezze for $20, and massive platters of crudites, appetizers, and cheese for $40-$80 depending on sizing. Sahadis Brooklyn Heights, 187 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights. Sahadis Industry City, 34 35th Street, Sunset Park. Or, in addition, Lassen & Hennigs, a Brooklyn specialty store in business since 1949, has your Thanksgiving covered with sides like cornbread, turkey sausage stuffing ($13.95/quart), Brussel sprouts, apple and kale salad for 12 ($29), candied sweet potatoes ($13.95/quart) and you can even get your seasoned and roasted Bell and Evans turkey here. Is everything here drop-dead delicious? No. But for the price and convenience, this place is a gem. Lassen & Hennigs Dumbo, 177 Water St., Dumbo. Lassen & Hennigs Brooklyn Heights, 114 Montague St., Brooklyn Heights.
‘Tis the season for holiday parties: giant office fetes with conference tables full of food, open houses with piles of baked goods overtaking buffets, family gatherings with multiple turkeys and enough sides to feed a small village. So much food left untouched, when the guests reach for the spirits rather than the snacks. The food waste from NYC restaurants is staggering (and is worse during the holidays), and when food waste ends up in the landfill, it releases methane, the harmful greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to climate change. The city has implemented composting laws for some of the bigger restaurants, but for events, the waste is usually just dumped. Transfernation is hoping to help solve this issue. This On-Demand Food Rescue App pairs a client with a surplus of food with a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen or church who is able to accept it, and then dispatches a delivery service (like Cargo Bike Solutions) to pick it all up and assist in delivery. Donors receive a tax write-off for the food they donate (which is all automated for them from Transfernation). The small fee that is charged pays the delivery service, and for a chance to change the world, it seems worth it. Using the iOS app Transfernation, you can request a pickup for untouched extra food.