Author: Victoria Candland
Thanksgiving is fast-approaching and you may be stuck on how to prepare the perfect meal, setup, and décor while maintaining a reasonable budget. You look at the Martha Stewart displays and the Better Homes and Gardens Thanksgiving spectacles and get a little discouraged and down-hearted. But, no need for feelings of inadequacy! We have all the tricks to help you have the best Thanksgiving holiday you could ever want—without throwing your bank account for a loop.
Of course every Thanksgiving feast comes with the traditional recipes that are simply staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish, and pie. But, we all like a little change in our lives from time to time. Shake things up with some unconventional recipes like sweet potatoes infused with pear and tangerine for a tangy taste that’s atypical for the vegetable. Or you could go with a Mexican entrée to spice it up (literally) like some salsa or mini enchiladas or tamales. Watch the grocery ads for what’s on sale and use those ingredients to create something new.
With food, there is also family, and Thanksgiving boasts those as the two main themes of the holiday. But, sometimes there can be family drama when it comes to the food, especially between the ladies. Perhaps Grandma Agnes always brings her signature rolls, but your new sister-in-law is from France and everyone is dying to try her delicious croissants. Instead of creating tension, allow both of them to bring their bread. Remind yourself and the rest of your family that Thanksgiving is about gratitude, not who can cook better. And if two people want to bring mashed potatoes and no one wants to bring the green beans, everyone will survive and still be happy. So when a guest offers to bring something, relax your personal view of perfection and let them help.
Sometimes we look at the imminent Thanksgiving meal and our checking accounts and sweat. With Halloween just past and Christmas around the corner, how are we supposed to fork out loads of money for a fancy feast? Good thing you don’t have to with the implementation of some easy tricks.
First off, remember to keep the leftovers! This way the food expense will be much more of a good investment. Use the turkey in sandwiches and pack them and a container full of other leftovers for your kids’ lunches and your work lunch. You can create delicious stews from leftovers for dinner, so you and your family won’t tire from the same dinner for days upon days after the Thanksgiving holiday. Transform your leftover turkey into turkey stock and can it for later use.
As mentioned above, always ask family members and other guests to bring a dish so you’re not left buying and cooking everything yourself. Providing a single dish makes the occasion much more affordable for everyone involved.
And forget organic. Organic vegetables for your sides and local free-range eggs for your pie are unnecessary. If you have to buy a less healthy form of butter your health will survive. It is just one meal after all. Don’t be ashamed of buying vegetables in the frozen aisle section.
The setup is vital to the ambience of the get-together. The two focus points of the setup: the buffet and the table arrangements. The buffet is the established Thanksgiving meal distribution, and with good reason. With a buffet, parents can help their children load up their plates at one time and adult family members can easily get seconds and even thirds without inconveniencing anyone. The buffet should use different heights for the display of the beautiful array of dishes. For example, put the turkey in the center of the buffet table on a box covered by the tablecloth and some greenery around the plate. Your cheese plate and roasted vegetable plate, for example, can also be lifted in such a way. This technique automatically elevates (no pun intended) the aesthetical appeal of your buffet. And don’t forget artistic signs for each food item. You can make labels for the food in calligraphy writing.
For the dinner table arrangements, it’s normally best to separate the kids and adults into two tables. However, make sure your 19-year-old cousin isn’t stuck with the five- and six-year-olds. If possible, have these tables in one room. For the display on the kids’ table, there should be limited decorations and nothing hazardous like lit candles. Make sure there are no tall centerpieces that are blocking possible conversation at the adult table, and seat couples close to each other.
What would Thanksgiving be without the décor, or any holiday for that matter? The decorations you use will determine the mood of the holiday in many ways. The most important parts of the décor: table scape and kitchen. Your family is going to be crowded around both of these for a long duration of the day. For the kitchen, the most important factors are cleanliness and organization. Is your kitchen in need of a major organizational overhaul? Check out these simple, yet genius tips you can make the most of in preparation of your holiday events.
For the table scape, define a color palette and a signature theme for the celebratory feast. Perhaps it’s the quintessential fall leaves or something different like owls or a cornhusk or a rustic wood scene. Spray paint is all the rage these days. Have fun spray painting some miniature pumpkins gold and displaying them on your table scape with pinecones and a burlap runner and white candles, for example. Use your creative mind to really wow your guests when they see the beautifully arranged table ready for the meal of the year.
However you plan for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, keep your focus on the important aspects like remembering to be grateful for everything you have and enjoying time with your guests. If preparing for the holiday is causing you stress, employ the helpful hints above to get back on track.
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