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8 days of November food celebrations (Thanksgiving not included!)

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November might include one of the holidays most known for having an abundance of food, but Thanksgiving isn’t the only sustenance-packed celebratory option. As it turns out, the fall-festive month is simply peppered with “food days” (see what I did there?). Check out 10 November calendar days dedicated to a diverse collection of eats and drinks and how to use them as an entertaining focal point.

Nov. 10: National Vanilla Cupcake Day

The wonderful thing about vanilla is it can be paired with endless other flavors, fruits and frostings. To celebrate Vanilla Cupcake Day with sweet-tooth friends, invite each guest to bring a batch of vanilla cupcakes. Encourage them to take inspiration from Kitchenfoliage.com, which recommends topping vanilla cupcakes with chai-spiced, coffee, Champagne or strawberry buttercream frosting. After exchanging cakes, set up a sample plate for each person and serve a formal tea or provide a coffee station (don’t forget vanilla syrup and/or powder).

Carry over the vanilla theme with vanilla-scented candles, white flowers, pearls and twinkling-white lights strung about your entertaining space.

Nov. 12: National French Dip Day

Celebrating the French dip sandwich — composed of thinly sliced beef served atop a French roll, with melted cheese and au jus — can go far beyond the sandwich itself. Think about inviting guests to also take a dip in the spa/hot tub (yours or a community pool/spa). Or, have a nail-dip party. If the traditional French dip isn’t your thing, feel free to modify it (ex.: with veggie options) and incorporate a variety of dipping sauces. Yummly.com has a host of dipping recipes from Thai peanut and apricot Dijon to buffalo blue cheese and cabernet peppercorn.

Nov. 14: National Pickle Day

They can top a sandwich or hamburger, be sliced and fried to perfection or end up in a macaroni salad. But honoring the cucumber’s beloved cousin doesn’t have to stop at serving traditional pickle dishes. Those invited to a pickle party can be challenged to craft more unusual pickle recipes such as Polish Dill Pickle Soup and Skinny Dilly Pickle Fries (see recipes on PureWow.com).

Nov. 17: National Homemade Bread Day

Think of the possibilities when it comes to homemade bread! In addition to white, wheat, rye and pumpernickel, there’s pumpkin, zucchini, banana bread and more. Encourage each bread party attendee to bring slices of their favorite homemade bread. Hosts can happily provide some home-curated loaves of bread, alongside accompaniments like slow-churned butter, jams, curds and nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower, etc.). Perhaps serve with apple cider (see below).

Nov. 18: Apple Cider Day

To celebrate Apple Cider Day, consider making a homemade batch for friends and family — before or after a holiday-shopping excursion, or after a brisk group walk or hike. Most recipes consist of apples, oranges, spices and a sweetener (brown sugar, sugar substitute, etc.). After bringing all the ingredients to a boil and simmering for two hours, mash the apples and oranges, simmer another hour, strain the contents and serve. Set out cinnamon sticks, whipped cream and caramel drizzle.

Nov. 23: National Espresso Day

What better day to celebrate one of caffeine’s finest contributions — espresso — than the day before Thanksgiving? Because, whether you’re hosting or simply attending a turkey day soiree, energy is likely required. Invite pre-Thanksgiving hosts and attendees alike for espresso-based lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos to help them get ready for the big day. No fancy espresso machine? No problem! Amazon.com has plenty of affordable frothing wands to help bring out your inner barista. Don’t forget to provide an assortment of flavored syrups and sauces.

Nov. 25: National Parfait Day

The last thing most people are thinking about post-Thanksgiving is food! But if food does come to mind, a parfait can be a lighter, healthy option. Consider inviting friends and/or still-visiting family members to a “parfaits and pictures” day. While enjoying a fruit-and-yogurt layered treat, guests can put together albums or scrapbooks of pictures — maybe Polaroids taken on turkey day or any other photos of events/memories they’d like to preserve.

As for parfait ideas, visit InsanelyGoodRecipes.com for “20 Best Parfait Recipes,” which include apple crisp, rhubarb gingersnap, sweet potato pie and other flavor-combo parfaits.

Nov. 28: National French Toast Day

National French Toast Day falls on a perfect day — closing out November, ushering in the winter and holidays. Treat neighbors, friends, family and whoever else is game to a smorgasbord of French toast samplings. Play around with brioche- and caramelized-bread-inspired French toast recipes and add various fruit toppings and syrups. Pair creations with mimosas or sparkling cider and toast to the close of fall and a cozy winter.

BONUS DAY! Nov. 29: Throw Out Your Leftovers Day

After celebrating one or more November food days, honor Throw Out Your Leftovers Day (and fridge) by ditching any expired stragglers taking up residence in your kitchen.

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