Move beyond menu and football and add something lighthearted and maybe a little bit meaningful this year!
Thankfulness Table Runner
Thanksgiving Dinners can get complicated when it comes to deciding who sits where at the table. Make it easy and assign seats. This can be done well with any number of place setting ideas that you can find all over pinterest. AkronOhioMoms combined several ideas into one outstanding Thanskgiving Day concept:
One idea that allows quiet and reserved family members to express themselves is to provide an easy wa y for them to express their thankfulness through writing.
The Setup: Create a kraft Paper table cloth or place mat for each of your family members. Along with trying out your skills (or lack there of!) in calligraphy to write out their name at the place setting, Create a blank list titled “I am thankful for” and provide pencils, pens and markets before the meal starts.
This creates a great conversation tool, and helps your guests not feel on the spot, but allow their previous thoughtfulness to shine through.
Turkey Branding (aka Turkey Tattoo)
Popular among grill masters is the use of branding irons – using a hot metal brand to place initials or designs on individual burgers and steaks on the grill.
Turkey is of course, a different animal, and you only get one turkey! Although you could use a branding iron at different times during the turkey roasting process, the
results might get sticky with the turkey skin!
The Setup: Using your kitchen propane torch, (maybe you have one for creme brulee) start designing lines, designs, or even words onto your turkey skin. Use a metal spatula to mask off and make straight lines on your turkey.
Not only will this be a conversation starter, but a tradition that keeps visitors guessing each year!
In our house, food photography is a way of life. Food Photography can be a fun contest to be run amongst your smart phone-laden family members.
This stuffing with peas and carrots gravy recipe has been in my husband’s family for generations. I shared it on the Acme Fresh Market website with a video – check out Old Country Stuffing.
This Turkey recipe is one I prepared for Acme Fresh Market – check it out: Herb Roasted Turkey.
The Setup: Urge everyone to take and share ONE photograph on Facebook as the table is being set. The contestant with the most likes wins a prize. Maybe they win a chance to carve the REST of the turkey after dinner!
Teen Turkey Carve Up
In our clean and pristine lives of first world problems, nothing quite reconnects a few of us with nature quite like the carving and clean up of a whole turkey. Guts, tendons and bones makes some of us feel awkward and a little gross. But maybe it’s all just a little taste of reality!
The Setup: Choose your most uninterested or assuming teen or young adult in your group and grant them the privelidge of carving the turkey! (Offer a bribe if you have to!)
Not only will the grossed out faces, ready and unwilling hands and total confusion provide laughter to your day, but it might open the world to your unassuming dinner guest.
Optionally, add clean up duty to the roster- and let the carving team choose a partner to get the job done in an even more grossing out fashion!
Give a Goat
Thankfulness in November can reveal the Abundance of life in America. Even this article points to extra things to buy that are not exactly necessities.
World Vision has been putting out a ‘gift’ catalog over the last few years. This gift catalog replaces the ‘send money for relief’ request and instead lists out items that are often purchased for families in need around the world.
One of the items you can buy is a goat. The price of a goat to be delivered to a family in need is $75 and produces milk and meat for that family.
The Setup: Announce to your family that you will be purchasing goats this year, and that they need to bring money to help buy them!
Set out a covered “GOAT FUND” collection basket that gets decorated by the youngest in your family, and urge everyone large and small to give towards the contribution!
Depending on the size of your dinner party, you might raise enough money to purchase one, two or three goats, and, possibly, a few chickens or maybe even a cow!
An alternative to the thankfulness place setting is this interesting thankful garland that I found, originated by Carina Gardner. Download the instructions and printable leaf templates here! If you’re not really into leaves, or maybe you live in the desert and they are WAY out of place, consider these tags from Erin Bassett.
The Meal Leftovers! Leftovers are a major event when leaving a family party. Great Uncle Mark thinks that the stuffing that Grandma makes is the ONLY stuffing in the world worth eating. There are 6 gallons of mashed potatoes left over and we have no idea why buying the 25 pound turkey for 10 people was a good idea. Instead of retroactively searching for stained and old plasticware containers, plan ahead.
The Setup: Buy some paper and Styrofoam containers that are the size you Want to give out, and grab these printables from iheartnaptime. Your leftovers will be adored, your family members will find you thoughtful and the visit to your home one that will be remembered.
The spoken word is an even playing field for everyone on your guest list. Jokes brought into the house raise the sense of expectation beyond the turkey, add levity and let off steam between family members that might clash.
The Setup: Share some website links or even a list of jokes with your family members of ALL ages – from 4 to 90. Tell them to be prepared to share their favorite! Some easy to remember Thanksgiving Jokes can be found here!
A turkey ready to eat at 1pm often means activity by mom and dad at 6am surrounding turkey prep! Why not make the most of this time with either your family, your spouse, or maybe your one child that likes to wake up the earliest.
The Setup” Purchase a simple, quiet craft to work on together. Suggestions include adult coloring books, paper sudoku, and origami kits. Reading from the Book of Psalms in the Bible is also a great suggestion. This hour of relaxation before the anxiety of meal preparation can set the tone of the day, and force an hour of simplicity and reflection in the morning.