Friday, November 20, 2015

Guest Post: 5 Ways to Make This Year's Thanksgiving Dinner Stand Out

Today's guest post is from the very talented Maurine Anderson who runs the blog Check out her great tips to make your Thanksgiving dinner stand out this year!

5 Ways to Make This Year’s Thanksgiving Dinner Stand Out
By: Maurine Anderson

If you’re looking to make your Thanksgiving dinner this year especially memorable, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five great ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving dinner stand out from the rest—and start a few Thanksgiving traditions while you’re at it.

Make gratitude a fun tradition.

Thanksgiving is a holiday for expressing gratitude, so why not help family members participate by making expressing gratitude a fun tradition? Here are a few ideas for fun ways to express gratitude together:

  • Have family members write what they’re grateful for on small pieces of paper and add them to a gratitude bowl or jar. Then, later in the evening, read out these small pieces of gratitude together and toss them into a warm fireplace or outdoor fire pit as you go.
  • Start a gratitude tablecloth. All you need is a simple tablecloth and permanent markers. Have family members write three or more things they are grateful for this Thanksgiving, and then reuse the tablecloth every year and continue the tradition.
  • Create a thankful tree. You can decorate one corner of your home with a bare tree, and then have family members write what they are thankful for on paper “leaves” and attach them to the tree.
  • Create a Thanksgiving garland. Alternatively, you and your family can create a Thanksgiving garland together, writing things that you are thankful for on paper leaves of Thanksgiving shapes, and then stringing them together to make a garland for hanging over the fireplace or on a banister.
  • Create a Thanksgiving wreath. SImilarly, you can use your decorative pieces of paper to decorate a wreath for hanging on your front door or in your home.

Go gourmet.

No, you don’t have to overexert yourself in your Thanksgiving dinner preparations this year, but you can spice up some traditional Thanksgiving dishes for a dinner that manages to be both traditional and unique. Instead of classic sweet potatoes, for example, you might opt for a sweet potato gratin or for sweet potatoes stuffed with cranberries, pears, and pecans. Instead of pumpkin pie, meanwhile, you might instead create a pumpkin pecan cheesecake or some pumpkin custard. And instead of a full-on turkey, you might instead create turkey roulade or skillet turkey with roasted vegetables. Think of your favorite Thanksgiving foods and look for similar, alternative recipes online to mix things up.

Decorate with detail.

You’re likely already making things festive in your home for the big Thanksgiving dinner, but there are a lot of fun decorative details that you likely haven’t thought of, all of which will work together to make your Thanksgiving that much more special. You might create place cards for placement on a well-set table, for example, fashioning them with colorful leaves, miniature pumpkins, or burlap and paper. For the middle of the table, you might put together a long centerpiece that runs the length of the table, featuring candles, colorful leaves, florals, and more. For the silverware, you might choose to wrap it in decorative fabric napkins and tie them off with jute and cinnamon sticks. Use your imagination, scour the web, and come up with something that gives your Thanksgiving dinner table that extra touch of “festive.”

Play Thanksgiving games.

To add to the fun and keep your family entertained during dinner preparations on Thanksgiving, you might try organizing a fun Thanksgiving game or two. Here are some examples:

  • Thanksgiving bingo, featuring different things that might happen at the dinner table—a pet stealing food, someone saying “turkey,” or someone dropping their eating utensil, for example
  • Candy guessing jar, where guests write down their guessing for how many of a Thanksgiving themed candy there are in a jar—the closest guess wins the jar of candy
  • Thanksgiving photo booth, where family members can take fun photos together against a festive backdrop holding Thanksgiving-themed props
  • Thanksgiving word building, where dinner guests compete to see how many words they can create from the word “Thanksgiving,” such as “tank,” “sit,” and “sting”

Take it outdoors.

I know what you’re thinking: “Won’t it be freezing?” But if you have a deck or patio, there are ways to warm it up for late fall outdoor enjoyment. You can install an outdoor fireplace or firepit, space heaters, or specialized deck heaters to keep you and your family warm. And with the deck materials available today (seen on this site, for example) an outdoor deck can resemble a true extension of your home’s interior, making it a warm and inviting space for guests. And you don’t necessarily have to do dinner outdoors; you can bring just part of Thanksgiving outdoors with warm drinks, desserts, or expressions of gratitude around a fire. Bringing a part of Thanksgiving outdoors will help family members remember their gratitude for the outdoors and for the wonderful fall season.

Maurine Anderson originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now enjoying life out west in Salt Lake City. She is a professional writer and blogger who in her free time loves to create new cake recipes, travel, and practice her hand at photography. She tends to geek out over linguistics, cats, and all things Scandinavia.

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