How to Plan an Expat Thanksgiving in 9 Steps

Signing your first apartment lease. Starting your first job. Moving out. Paying bills. There are many moments both big and small that seal a badge of becoming a “real adult.”

Moving to Paris has given me the opportunity to reach another “adulthood” milestone: hosting a holiday. Now for the third year, I can say that Thanksgiving is my holiday. Each year I get the honor of gathering my Parisian family in my home to celebrate this wonderful American holiday. Want to know how I do it?

Here’s how to plan an expat Thanksgiving:

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A Few of my Paris Favorites: Valentine's Day

Absence does make the heart grow fonder. After eight weeks away on an epic trip through GermanyAustriaMadridLondon, and the United States (NY/NJ), coming back to Paris felt comfortingly familiar, yet refreshingly new.

We landed in Paris on Sunday, February 9th with new visas in hand, mission accomplished. Once I came out of a jet-lagged fog, I realized that Valentine's Day was quickly approaching on the horizon.

What to do? As much as I love to eat out, I had been almost continuously chowing down at restaurants for two months. There were days of catching up with dear friends and family in the States that meant eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...and one exceptional day that included a coffee and dessert break. It was wonderful, but returning to Paris made me really look forward to getting back into my kitchen.

I started running errands off to some of my regular places in my neighborhood of the Marais (and the nearby Oberkampf neighborhood in the 11ème for an open-air market). Then it hit me - without intentionally thinking it through, I was frequenting some of my favorite spots to bring together a romantic meal chez moi.

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Bringing French Cuisine to Your Cuisine

Somehow I missed the memo for years that France is known for its delicious food, bread, and pastries. (I did have an vague sense that it might to be known for wine.) The first time I vacationed in Paris, I had no idea that baguettes and pain au chocolat were a big deal here. Thankfully within the first hour in Paris I happened upon some sort of bread and pastry competition taking place in front of Notre Dame. One bite of a baguette and a whole new world of baked goodness opened up to me.

The following year my husband (who had no interest in going to Paris the prior year) booked us a longer vacation to Paris. Legend has it that when we returned home after that vacation and bit into a mass-produced, store-bought croissant, we really started missing France. And proceeded to initiate a work transfer for Michael to work from Paris.

The good news is that if you too fall in love with the food and pastries that France is apparently famous for, you can learn how to replicate some of these treats. I have taken three cooking classes at La Cuisine in Paris with my mom and have loved each one. 

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