The Thanksgiving Family Tradition You’ll Want, Too

For years this Florida mom has made holiday gatherings even sweeter with a Thanksgiving Eve extravaganza that's all about pie.

Everybody has a dish they look forward to most at Thanksgiving. Some people are true turkey lovers. For others, stuffing is the star. Many people crave mashed potatoes most. But it’s probably safe to say that the majority of Turkey Day feasters are positively passionate about pie. The problem is, after you’ve gorged yourself on all the savory delights, you might not have saved space for the sweet stuff.

Community Cook Shawn Barto of Winter Garden, Florida, was tired of her crew skipping out on pie after the big feast, so she created a brand-new tradition that’s turned into a huge annual celebration.

Behold, Pie Night

Every year on the night before Thanksgiving, Shawn hosts a big party with nothing on the menu but sweets and pies.

“For the last 10 years or so, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we invite all our friends to come over and enjoy the sweet stuff ahead of time,” Shawn says. But as her group grew—they’ve had anywhere between 30 to 92 guests over the years—so did the offerings. It’s not just about dessert.

“Guests have brought everything from a pizza pie to a spinach and artichoke quiche, and even a butterbeer pie,” she says. (Get more Harry Potter-inspired recipes here.)

How Does Pie Night Work?

“We have lots of seating—a large downstairs, and a big screened-in patio with a fire pit—and people spill all over the house,” Shawn says. They start in the kitchen, where the pitchers of sangria and special cocktails like pumpkin pie martinis are served. Then they’re free to roam, gab and snack on the good stuff all night.

I whip up all the candy: Oreo cookie balls, peanut butter buckeyes, marshmallow candies, pecan pie truffles and mint truffles,” Shawn says. “I also make a pumpkin pie, brown sugar pound cake and pecan pie—pecan pies are always my favorite.”

Any excuse to get together and eat dessert with your favorite people is a fine idea for a party in our book. It’s a brilliant concept, and one we’re more than excited to weave into our own Turkey Day traditions, too.

Thinking of starting up your own Pie Night this year? These stunning pies will be the talk of the party.

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Rachel Seis
As senior editor for Taste of Home magazine, Rachel has her hand in everything you see from cover to cover, from writing and editing articles to taste-testing recipes to ensuring every issue is packed with fun and fabulous content. She'll roll up her sleeves to try any new recipe in the kitchen—from spicy Thai dishes (her favorite!) to classic Southern comfort food (OK...also her favorite). When she's not busy thinking of her next meal, Rachel can be found practicing yoga, going for a run, exploring National Parks and traveling to new-to-her cities across the country.