Max & Daniel’s Thanksgiving with Ikea Essentials + Recipes


Hosting Thanksgiving has always seemed like a rite of passage for me—a true sign that one is, in fact, a real grownup. Over the years, I’ve made tiny contributions to Thanksgiving dinners (an entree here, a dessert there), but never have I attempted to produce an entire one myself. Last year, my fiancé, Daniel and I moved into a beautiful, albeit quite dilapidated home in the Hudson Valley. Of the many domestic fantasies we saw playing out within its walls (laundry-doing, bed-making, bedside-table-vignette-obsessing), Thanksgiving was always towards the top of the list. If we could host Thanksgiving, we could do anything. We would have, as the phrase goes, arrived—true members of the elusive, seemingly impenetrable League of True Adults. This year, despite our home still looking like a slightly more put-together version of Grey Gardens, we have decided to make the leap. Thanksgiving or bust!

With a little bit of help from our pals at IKEA, we have crafted what we think is a darling little homage to some of our favorite things—Scandinavia, The Hudson Valley, and—of course—obscene amounts of food. We’ve prepared some of our favorite seasonal recipes (new family traditions, possibly!) and set the table in true Upstate Dandy fashion. We’re ready. LET’S DO THIS. Check out all of the photos, plus our not-s0-secret recipes, after the jump! —Max

ikeaThis post was created in collaboration with IKEA. Their selection of holiday and celebration essentials are an important part of family gatherings! #showusyourIKEA

Click through to see Max’s and Daniel’s Thanksgiving celebration and their essentials for a wonderful meal.


Image above: The NORDEN dining table table is all set and ready for guests! Daniel’s DIY bench makes an appearance, topped off with IKEA’s RYSSBY wool blanket.


Image above: Our modest tablescape featuring our favorite IKEA essentials: POKAL water glasses, LYCAD serving bowls, KASTRULL pot, and SMARTA serving bowl.


Image above: We crafted these snazzy napkin rings using 1.5-inch copper pipe from the hardware store. The pipe was cut down using a miter saw and then its edges were filed with a Dremel. The napkins are TEKLA towels from IKEA.


Image above: Can’t forget the pumpkin pie! We placed it on a RYSSBY cake stand.


Image above: Daniel chopping brussels sprouts, lookin’ sassy as always.


Image above: Some carrots—soon to be roasted in the oven! We love the roomy Smarta serving dish series at IKEA.


Image above: Daniel’s famous mac and cheese nestled into an oval SMARTA dish. Recipe below!


Image above: Mapled Brussels Sprouts, recipe below. We used the SMARTA series used once again. We did say essentials, right?

Recipe: Daniel’s Famous Mac and Cheese

Serves 6-8

  • 8-oz macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I like 1.5 cups sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup smoked gouda)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish and begin boiling water for noodles.
  2. Grate cheese.
  3. On medium-low heat, melt butter in saucepan and blend in flour, salt, and pepper with a whisk. When combined and bubbling, gradually blend in both cups of milk. Increase heat and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
  4. Once water is boiling, cook macaroni until al dente. Drain.
  5. Stir grated cheese into white sauce. If it does not melt, return briefly to low heat until combined.
  6. Mix the sauce into the cooked macaroni and pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle Panko on top and bake for 20-30 minutes, until top is lightly browned.


Recipe: Mapled Brussels Sprouts (adapted from Anna Dorfman’s recipe)

  • 2 lbs. brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter/Earth Balance
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat oil in large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Prepare brussels sprouts by removing ends and cutting in half length-wise.
  3. When oil is hot, pour brussels sprouts in pan, add salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Increase heat to medium-high. Allow sprouts to sit for a few minutes until nicely browned (even a bit charred).
  4. Stir in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and toss to coat. Add maple syrup, stir, and allow everything to simmer for 5-10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and sugars have caramelized. Remove from heat, serve, and enjoy!


Here’s a list of Max and Daniel’s IKEA essentials if links in captions are not appearing for you:

RYSSBY cake stand
LYCKAD serving bowls
TEKLA towels (to be used as napkins)
POKAL water glasses
RYSSBY wool blanket
NORDEN dining table
ENSIDIG vase plates

SMARTA oven serving dish

  1. Joanna says:

    Looks great!

    I’ve been wanting that cute little mint pot for a while. Does it seem sturdy?

  2. debbie in toronto says:

    love these guys!!

  3. brie says:

    what brand are the gold flatware?

    1. Hey. Brie! They’re from West Elm!

  4. Sara L. says:

    Um, this is a draft, I think? Lots of missing words and links! Otherwise, always nice to see Daniel and Max outside of the Nest! Looks like a nice meal.

    1. Hey, Sara! Links aren’t showing up if your browser’s ad blocker is turned on. We’re working on a work-around for this—apologies for any confusion!

  5. beth says:

    Love the styling! (psst: draft version posted! But still love it!)

  6. Molly says:

    Wooo! Manhattan Nest fan here, and I have to say the dining room is looking fabulous. :D

  7. Spt says:

    Yes! More Max and Daniel please!

  8. megan says:

    love their blog!!! now this is a casual thanksgiving i could get behind!!!

  9. SPT— Haha. I’m glad you like us! I write on D*S on an almost daily basis!

  10. Caitlin Kelch says:

    Hi All! For anyone not seeing links, we’re working on a list to add to the end of the post! If you have ad blocker, unfortunately, you won’t see the links in the captions.

  11. Haley says:

    Love love love these boys!! So talented. And also maple Brussels sprouts, mmm.

  12. Leah P says:

    I found Daniel’s blog from an earlier D*S post by you, Max. Now I’m so hooked on Manhattan Nest (I spent a huge amount of time reading way back into the archives), and of course a forever D*S reader, too. I love both of your writing styles. Thanks for sharing your home and Thanksgiving! No doubt True Adult status.

  13. Allison says:

    Looks great! I’m interested in knowing where you sourced the tablecloth. We have a large table similar to this and it’s so hard to find a nice one that fits. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for!

    1. Allison—if you can believe it, the tablecloth is actually a regular old canvas drop cloth, picked up from the hardware store!

  14. Carol says:

    Terrific Fakesgiving post. My favorite trio of sites & their always interesting creators: Max at Design*Sponge, Daniel at Manhattan Nest, and Anna Dorfman at Door 16. Love the Ikea products & your styling as always is The Best. Happy Real Thanksgiving to you.

  15. Allison says:

    Amazing! I’m going to go pick one up tonight. Thank you so much for that tip!

  16. Susan says:

    I love simple and stylish – Ikea does it best with affordable cool pieces that work hard, day in and year out. Many thanks for capturing it well (as did Daniel in his terrific blog post today) and kudos to Ikea for consistently offering timeless choices that seriously address so many family home needs without crazy price tags : ) Your dining room (and kitchen) are looking awesome, so fun to watch the evolution of making your not-Grey Gardens house into a true home.

  17. Gillian says:

    What a simple fuss-free spread and setting!

  18. Claudia says:


  19. Amy says:

    Great post! I followed form Manhattan Nest-An IKEA just opened in the Kansas City area and I can’t wait to go!

  20. adsn says:

    Fuss free thats right Gillian. I wish I could make such fuss free food when guests arrive. Ugh to live around people who expect fancy food and decor! Maybe I should move to kingston.

  21. jess says:

    Where are the plates from?

  22. And just when I thought you couldn’t top yesterday’s post… you did !

    Can I come ? I can be here in 20 jours, just have to cross the ocean !

    (PS: seconding the question about that gorgeous green pot-thing. Is it sturdy ?)

  23. This is super-fantastic. A very real and creative concept to get into the casual thanksgiving. Your artistic skills are undeniably thankworthy.

  24. Jana says:

    Hello guys! love the set on the table but I am going bananas trying to find the beautiful white bowl with the blue stripes. I am missing something? Did you paint does stripes on a white bowl? I want one!!!!!!!


  25. Jay says:

    Such a great post! But it seems like it’s missing a bunch of text and links…? “Our modest tablescape featuring our favorite IKEA essentials: , , , and”

    1. Hey, Jay! I think your browser’s ad-blocker is turned on! If you want to see the links in the captions, just turn it off temporarily. Otherwise, we’ve added all of the products as a list at the bottom of the post.

  26. Jessica says:

    A lovely pairing of furniture and housewares to match a modest Hudson Vallery home. I absolutely lost it when I caught a glimpse of the mac and cheese (recipe is on the ‘to do’)!!!

  27. Hey, Jana! The striped bowl is actually just a vintage find!

  28. Kirsta says:

    I know this is a sponsored post but I loved it so much anyway! Well done on you guys for pulling that off so well.

  29. Jacquie says:

    Can you say I k e a….isn’t everyone a fan! (I’m sitting at my Linnmon table (grey with grey Adils legs) next to my Micke drawer unit (white – changed the wheels to feet) and nearby is my Borgsjo shelf unit (white – aka bookcase)!

  30. Marta Hemming says:

    Is it possible to buy a larger plastic container with Lingonberries from IKEA-FOOD? I used to buy it from Ikea in Hicksville on Long Island but now they only have small glass jars. Please advise, I love this preserve and one small jar does not satisfy my needs. Waiting for your reply via e-mail. Thank you.

  31. Erin says:

    Love it all!!! Where did you get those cut black candle holders? Vintage?


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