So, the holiday has arrived… and you’re not quite ready. No worries! Really. It will all work out okay, even if you find yourself scrambling around at the last minute to pull it all together. No matter how near or far your family and friends are; no matter how large or small your gathering is, we’ve got 9 super simple tips to help you out — 3 for the Kids Table, 3 for the Big Table, and 3 for everything else in between. Take a look!
Don’t do all the work yourself — get the kids to help. This act alone may encourage them not to wince at having to sit at a separate table. Only have one kid? That’s okay! They can still create their own special seating space at the table. Here’s how:
1) Decor. The old standby turkey made out of your child’s handprint artwork will do. Or how about the potato-turkey with toothpick feathers? Or a pair of Pilgrims made from toilet rolls and construction paper? Use their arts and crafts as the centerpiece.
2) Place setting. Want to make clean-up easier on everyone? No… we’re not going to suggest paper plates… but we are going to suggest plastic ones. They can still be tossed in the trash at the end of the meal, if you don’t want to deal with them any other way. And you can likely find them on sale at your local party store. Your grocery store and dollar store are likely to have them, too. And, while you’re at it, pick up some of those faux-metallic plastic utensils — the gold and silver kind. They have the added benefit of adding sparkle to your table.
3) Food. Let each one help in preparing one of the items you’re serving — even if you just let them stir the mashed potatoes, place serving spoons in the green beans and dressing, or pour water into all of the glasses at the table. It will keep them occupied, involved and, hopefully, out of each other’s way.
This doesn’t have to be the hard part. So you’re not Martha Stewart and don’t care about creating a lavish tablescape. Or, maybe you do fancy yourself a Martha and love to go all out with the accoutrements of the holiday. Either way, if you’re doing it all at the last minute, you may need a little assistance. So, here it is:
1) Decor. Shades of brown, orange, gold and crimson come to mind. And if you need to mix-and-match them together, go for it. Don’t have a burgundy tablecloth… but do have a burgundy flat sheet? Sure it may end up with a little gravy on it, but… think how pretty your table will look. The point is: Get creative, without too much thinking involved. You can even go outside, snag some colorful fallen leaves from the sidewalk, maybe a few pine cones or acorns you find along the way (tip: “Kids, go outside and find me [list of natural decorative autumnal items]”), and place them in glass jars with sparkly beads or candles. In other words: celebrate the season, not just the holiday.
2) Place setting. Have your grandma’s china stored in a cabinet? How about her crystal glasses or antique silverware? Now would be a good time to use it… or the sets you received for your wedding. Whatever you have that is the nicest, get it out, clean it up and enjoy it. Yes, you’ll have to wash all of it later, but… it’s not just about using the finer things in life on one day of the year. Bringing forth these kinds of items that have belonged to or been giving to you by other family members helps keep the memories of those people close. And… isn’t that what the day is all about?
3) Food. Keep this in mind: It’s okay not to use time-worn family recipes. That’s why they make instant mashed potatoes. And if you haven’t tried them before, you should. You can doctor them up with cheese, green onions, chopped ham… whatever… in an instant. Same goes for cans of green beans, cranberry sauce and frozen pumpkin pies. If you have a family tradition of preparing a special meal, by all means, stick with it… but do simplify wherever you can.
Something for Everyone
Waiting, waiting, waiting? You know how you can smell that turkey cooking, and all the side items, maybe some bread rolls baking in the oven… all day long… and you can’t have any of it yet? Well, here are a few ideas to get you through till dinnertime:
1) Drinks. This one can be had by those young and old: Sparkling Cranberry Cocktail. All it takes is a fizzy white soda, such as Sprite or Ginger Ale, mixed with Cranberry juice and a little lemonade. Add a few ice cubes, and voila! Instant party drink. If you happen to have real cranberries (or other berries) on hand, pop them in to make the drink even prettier.
2) Appetizers. Want something similar to but not quite the same-old cheese-and-crackers? Try slicing up pita bread into small triangles. Toast them lightly, just to crisp them a little. Top with brie and cranberries or orange marmalade. It’s quick, tasty and festive without a lot of fuss.
3) Activities. Thanksgiving is a great time to simply be present in the moment with family and friends. If you’re not the kind of family that goes outside for an annual game of football, maybe you are the kind of family that would enjoy a quiet walk through the woods, or down the lane. And if you’re not the type of family that has to be tied to the TV watching football, you may be the kind that would take a neighborhood drive, just to see what everyone else is up to. Be sure to set the radio on the holiday music channel. Or, just sit together in the living room or kitchen sharing inspiration and ideas about how you all want to spend the remaining weeks of the year.
So… how will you spend your Thanksgiving? Whatever you choose to do, have fun… let all stressful situations fall away… and just enjoy the day.
Have any Thanksgiving tips of your own? Share them in the comments below or tell us your story. Happy Thanksgiving!