What to do for Thanksgiving? If you are someone who likes to live life a bit differently, on your own terms, you may not be too excited about the same-old, same-old Thanksgiving celebration. So do something about it this year. Here are a few ideas to rev up that creative, free spirit.
If you can’t be with your family of birth for Thanksgiving, be with your family of choice. Maybe you live far from family, you cannot take the time off to travel to see them, or the cost of travel is prohibitive. Or maybe you’ve traveled over the holidays and have vowed, “never again”. Whatever the case, Thanksgiving can still be a festive day of gratitude, celebrated with loved ones. Make it easy and plan a potluck. Easier still, order a pre-made dinner and have friends pitch in with extras. Many grocery chains and meal delivery services offer ready-made Thanksgiving dinners. Here’s a list of 10 places you can order from this year.
What’s for Dinner?
Tired of the same old traditional meal? Mix cultures; add exotic spices to traditional dishes. Try adding chili to your turkey for a Mexican-style Thanksgiving fiesta. Finish the meal with this pumpkin flan recipe.
Make dinner eclectic. With turkey as the centerpiece, prepare non-traditional sides like quinoa, risotto, or couscous using spices like Thai peppers, lemongrass, turmeric, or ginger. Instead of sweet potatoes and marshmallows, try this sweet potato curry recipe.
Prefer simplicity? Switch out the expected green bean casserole with sautéed asparagus or spinach, steamed artichokes with a mayo dip, grilled peppers, or roasted root vegetables. If you just love having sweet potatoes, try them grilled and sprinkled with feta cheese. In lieu of cranberries, opt for pomegranate seeds. Prepare sliced oranges with pomegranate kernels.
Not a fan of turkey? Want to veer completely away from tradition and prepare a dinner that least resembles Thanksgiving? Honor the heritage and gifts of cultures from around the world – those potentially represented by your circle of friends – and open the menu to foods from other countries. Stuff a cabbage instead of a turkey. Make kabobs with your favorite meats and vegetables. Make a root vegetable curry.
Go for a variation on the turkey theme for the main dish: rock cornish game hens. Each dinner guest can have their own hen. How about a crown roast complete with paper frills on rib bone ends – a majestic presentation – or instead of fowl, go with fish: broiled flounder or red snapper.
For meatless options, try vegetarian casseroles, chili, or a handcrafted pizza or focaccia with seasonal toppings like roasted eggplant, chopped cilantro, crunchy pistachios or pumpkin seeds, or shredded coconut. If you’re vegan and others in your crowd are too, all the better.
Then, for uncommonly delicious drinks, place bottles of Tejava tea throughout the holiday spread.
Holiday Dining Fun
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be all about eating. Games are always a great way to spend time together.
Organize a game of Trivial Pursuit, adding a Thanksgiving twist. Motivate guests by giving out holiday-oriented prizes to winners.
Here’s a fun game specially designed for families: Thanksgiving Family Feud. Create your own DIY Family Feud. Organize into teams and compete to come up with the most popular answers to holiday questions. The game gets really interesting when you have many branches of the family tree represented.
Host a murder mystery Thanksgiving dinner party. Fancy yourself an amateur detective? Is the crowd you hang around with up for playing super sleuths? If so, they may really enjoy being Sherlock Holmes while feasting. Offer clues, involve your guests, and have fun solving the mystery.
Worried about all that food adding pounds to your waistline? Work off those Thanksgiving calories by participating in a Turkey Trot. Get others to join you. Order custom T-Shirts as gifts and as a way to call attention to your team. Alternately, organize your own fun-run or walk and plan interesting and unusual routes or turn your physical activity into a scavenger hunt.
Thanksgiving is usually about gathering with the people closest to you. Be thankful, thoughtful, and generous outside your circle of family and friends. Hook up with a local church or charity that’s putting on a spread for seniors or locals in need. Help serve up a turkey dinner and the trimmings for people who can’t do it on their own. Invite college students stuck on campus – unable to be home for the holiday – to join your dinner guests. Donate food or dinner leftovers to a homeless shelter or food bank. Make a year round commitment and volunteer with an organization like Meals on Wheels.
Thanksgiving Away from Home
Think outside your geographic box. Get out of town and have Thanksgiving at an out-of-the-ordinary destination. Consider going back to America’s roots. Take a trip to New England, the birthplace of our nation. Visit Plymouth, Massachusetts. Immerse yourself in 17th Century American culture.
Itching to set off for a far-away place? Someplace exotic? Indonesia perhaps … to the Island of Java, the place that so inspired our founding tea master to create Tejava teas.
There you have it. Holiday food for thought. We’re sure you can think of lots more.