Thanksgiving Entertaining & Menu Ideas

DATE: November 15, 2013

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips, tricks and resources that I have found to be helpful over the years. Even though we’re having our Thanksgiving meal at Sundial Resort (see Planning for the Holidays post), we’re still going to do a few things at the house.

If you read my Halloween Costumes post, you likely know by now that I am a BIG fan of DIY and any excuse to be creative. When my husband and I first got married, I began a tradition of putting out holiday themed decorations for every holiday and have continued that tradition every year. As an excuse to show off my Thanksgiving décor, we decided to throw a Thanksgiving Eve party for our families. This will also act as a nice welcome to the island gesture as well as give us all a chance to catch up.

For this Thanksgiving Eve gathering, I am going to serve a few Thanksgiving-themed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails (the kids will get the non-alcoholic versions of course). I want to give a nod to the traditional dishes of the season but with a twist. Most of these recipes can also be made by using your Thanksgiving Leftovers. Here’s my menu so far:

Cocktails- Both of these can be made in batches, saving you from having to play bartender all night.

–   Whiskey Cranberry Slushes (Fun for the kids too, just make a batch without whiskey)

–   Great Pumpkin Punch

Hors d’oeuvres- All three of these dishes are easy to eat with your hands or at the most a fork, which leaves you with less dishes to worry about!

–   Cranberry Turkey Puff Pastry Bites

–   Mashed Potato Balls (Healthy Recipe)

–   Sweet Potato Fries with Brown-Butter Marshmallow Sauce

Here’s a few DIY decorating and entertaining ideas:

–   Spray paint dried or fake leaves– Paint them metallic gold and bronze and use to create a wreath, spread over a buffet for a unique table covering or use as place cards. (You can also use the same spray paint technique on a traditional garland and create a festive fall wrap for your railings or fireplace)

–   Create an “I’m Thankful For…” bowl– Find a round vase or something clear that you can use as the vessel. As guests arrive, have them write a quick note on what they’re thankful for (for a cocktail party situation, urge guests to be a little silly. i.e. “I’m Thankful For…my DVR, heated seats in my car, the invention of chocolate, etc) using metallic pens and brown, orange and yellow construction paper. Later in the evening, pass the bowl around and have each person grab a slip from the bowl and read it out loud. This is a great activity to use as an ice breaker when bringing together groups and individuals that may not know, or be familiar with, each other.

–   Thanksgiving Pictionary– Using a chalkboard, dry erase board or large notepad (whatever you can get your hands on), draw a fun holiday-themed image and hang it somewhere prominent, providing the room with a piece of wall art. When ready, take down your turkey art and begin the game. It is typically best to break into two teams of no more than five, larger groups break into more teams. This is an activity that is fun to get the kids involved in as well. A few suggestions for your Thanksgiving Pictionary items:

–   Turkey

–   Stuffing

–   Pumpkin Pie

–   Butterball

–   Wishbone

–   Mayflower

–   Plymouth (Rock)

–   Cornucopia

–   Pilgrims and/or Indians

–   Leftovers

–   Football

–   Food Coma


Real Simple Magazine- The Fastest Thanksgiving Recipes Ever

Real Simple Magazine- 10 Tricks to a Trouble-Free Thanksgiving

Martha Stewart- Easy Thanksgiving Menus

Rachael Ray Everyday Magazine- 15 Holiday Table Tricks from the Pros Thanksgiving Recipes


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