When I first moved to New York, my friends back home would often ask me if living there felt like being in Gossip Girl. As a 21-year-old grad student living on the sixth floor of a walk-up with two roommates, no air conditioning, and often, no hot water, I would say my answer back then was a resounding no.
Roughly six years later, I like to think I've moved up in the world. I now share a one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend, co-own a cactus, and can usually count on pretty steamy water pressure. Still, the Gossip Girl fantasy remains a distant and unattainable one. Sure, I can treat myself to occasional Laduree macaron, but the everyday existence of the Manhattan elite continues to defy comprehension.
Nothing makes that more clear than re-watching Lily van der Woodsen plan a quick Thanksgiving for 14 of her nearest and dearest in the show's third season holiday special, "The Treasure of Serena Madre." (Note: I am aware that the very best Gossip Girl Thanksgiving episode is undeniably Season 1's "Blair Waldorf Must Pie," but in an effort to focus on a single dinner, I have made the executive decision to exclude it from this narrative.)
A quick recap of the plot: It's Lily and Rufus' first Thanksgiving as a married couple. Lily wants to play it cool, and grab a turkey dinner for Eric, Rufus, Jenny and herself. Rufus, in an effort to surprise his wife (bad move) invites her mother to join them now that she's in remission. The problem is that Lily has been lying to Rufus about visiting Cece, instead going off in search of her ex-husband. Serena, meanwhile, is having an affair with Nate's cousin, Congressman Tripp Vanderbilt, who is also planning on leaving his wife. Post-threesome with Olivia, Dan is wrestling with the idea that he might have feelings for Vanessa, who is also fighting with her activist mother. Blair and Chuck are in a rare period of calm, tempered by the fact that Blair is worried her mother is pregnant and writing her out of her will. Eric and Jenny are feuding. Oh, and Dorota's pregnant. In pure Gossip Girl style, this all comes to a head when they all inevitably end up around the same Thanksgiving table.
Let's talk about that table. Curious just how out of reach a true Gossip Girl Thanksgiving is to the average human, I have attempted to estimate how much it would cost to host one. Since I'm not a Waldorf or a van der Woodsen, I've tried to guess as to some of the vendors that could have been used for this event. I have also excluded the cost of the wine, because I imagine that these people all have cellars with hundred-year old Madeira available at a moment's notice.
1) The Table
Plates: Perusing the Home section of Barney's website, I found this similar gold-trimmed plate, at the cost of $78 per setting. Multiply that by 14 people, and you come to $1,092.
Napkin holders: This napkin ring from Bergdorf's is pretty close to the one featured above. Make that 14, multiplied by $40 each, for a total of $560.
Flowers: According to Norma Satizábal, a floral designer who helped design some of the Gossip Girl floral arrangements before founding her own company, Verdant Floral, those centerpieces would cost approximately $1,200.
Staff: Party Rentals lists their rates as including a flat fee of $15 per staff required on top of the $25 per hour rate for a minimum five hour booking. Considering it's Thanksgiving, that rate would probably increase to time and a half, or $37.50 per hour. I counted four waiters in the shots of this dinner, and estimated they were probably hired for at least 7 hours (including clean-up) which would come out to $1,110.
2) The Food
At the beginning of the episode, Lily mentions she's planning on picking up dinner from Grace's Market on the Upper East Side. Their website very helpfully lists a Thanksgiving catering menu with prices attached.
Turkey: My quick Google search informs me that one should count on approximately 1 pound per serving, but since no hostess wants to come up short, I feel like Lily would probably over-order. One 20-lb turkey it is! $120
Stuffing: There are four types of stuffings listed, and I think all four would be needed to achieve the acceptable variety quota. Let's say about two pounds of each.
- Sausage & Herb- $8.99/lb x 2 = $17.98
- Chestnuts w. Scallion- $8.99/lb. x 2 = $17.98
- Cornbread w. Walnut & Raisins- $8.99/lb. x 2 = $17.98
- Wild Rice Stuffing with Mushrooms- $13.99/lb. x 2 = $27.98
- Jenny's annual mashed sweet potatoes: Bland, according to Eric. Cost unknown.
- Traditional Mashed Potatoes- $8.99/lb. x 4 = $35.96
- Roasted Baby Carrots w/ rosemary & garlic $8.99/lb. x 3 = $26.97
- Acorn Squash Stuffed w/ cranberries- $8 each x 14 = $112
10 inch Pumpkin Pie-$24.00 x 3 = $72
10 inch Apple Crumb Pie-$25 x 2 = $50
10 inch Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake -$50 x 2 = $100
Turkey Gobble Cake-$60 x 2 = $120
3) The Extras
Smoked salmon platter: Since they're on the East Side, let's go with Eli Zabar's. One 1.5lb package goes for $85.
OVERALL TOTAL: $4,865.85
Happy Thanksgiving! Xoxo.
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