Thanksgiving is a memorable way to mark the joy of family and friends. What better way to celebrate the blessings of life than to celebrate Thanksgiving in your home. You can host a glowing, fun-filled, fantastic memorable feast without going crazy.
We've all been overwhelmed by the glossy, elegant touches displayed in beautiful (but sometimes intimidating) ways in magazines and TV shows. You don't have to be perfect to have a gracious celebration your guests will remember fondly for years to come.
The Thanksgiving recipes are organized by course, pick and choose how many courses you want to serve and how many of each menu item you'd like. We have lots of choices for all those various taste buds!
Don't forget the fun part, spending time with the kids. Check out the Thanksgiving crafts to get ideas for fun projects to do with them, and to keep them entertained throughout what can be an overwhelming holiday. The games and activities are perfect for involving the family in more than just eating, to help make this a very happy Thanksgiving!
Our favorite recipes for appetizers, desserts, and even the turkey!Thanksgiving Recipes
Holidays should include fun, these games will keep everyone entertained.Thanksgiving Games
If you're not sure how it all began or want to share the right facts with the younger set.History Facts
Thanksgiving recipes are among the best because there is so much opportunity for variety among the different courses. This is one of the best holidays to try new recipes or make traditional favorites that have pleased generations of families.
Thanksgiving turkey doesn't have to be bland and boring. With the right combination of spices and cooking techniques, you can have a flavorful turkey everyone will love. We've also gathered the tastiest of appetizer and bread recipes to satisfy everyone throughout the day. Our recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes include everything from traditional sweet potatoes to sweet sizzling corn fritters.
For the perfect ending to your dinner, browse the Thanksgiving dessert recipes for tried and true favorites. Enjoy!
Nothing creates memories of home like than the smell of bread baking.
Side dishes are just as important as the turkey, we've got them all.
Keep the crowds happy before the big meal
with easy to make appetizers.
Thanksgiving activities are a great way for everyone to have fun. They solve the age old question...once the meal is finished, what now? Doing the dishes doesn’t count.
Thanksgiving is a day that focuses on one rather large fabulous meal. It is the memory and anticipation of this meal that makes mouths water for months before and after. But what else is there to do? The traditional festivities of Thanksgiving dictate very little else. If the post turkey consumption staring contest, nap or sports center report have lost their thrill, it might be time to try something new with a few Thanksgiving activities sure to entertain.
Many of us spent the Thanksgivings of our youth at Grandma’s house. Grandma sometimes lived in a tiny little fly speck of a town in the absolute middle of nowhere, but we loved it there. In spite of no TV reception, malls, movie theaters or even gas stations there was always something to do. Some of the most memorable Thanksgiving activities from those times are still enjoyed today...like the following:
It sounds simple, but there is no better answer to ‘what are we gonna do now?’ Than lacing up the sneakers and getting moving. While you walk, as we did, you can discuss the sights and sounds that you observe and list reasons for gratitude. Playing simple games like eye spy or trying to name the birds by their songs adds a dimension of play. We would also walk past places of significance to our family’s history. We loved to hear stories about our grandparent’s first home, or see the chicken coup that housed a notoriously blood thirsty rooster. These stories are what I prized most. Walking past the actual site of occurrence is not important, just relating the tales to the children is more than enough.
If the walk is taken before the big meal it will get the kids out from under your feet in the kitchen. The help my aunts could have been was small in comparison with the service of removing 10 plus sets of busy little fingers from the food prep area. I often suspect the removal of extra ‘help’ is where the idea of an annual walk originated.
If getting rid of kitchen helpers is not your idea of a good time, try incorporating smaller less experienced hands by adding tasks that are fun and easy. We always arranged the veggie, and deli trays. The feeling of accomplishment and contribution was great. Other tasks youngsters can help with in the kitchen include setting the table, whipping cream, sneaking taste tests, putting marshmallows on the yams, and placing the rolls in a basket.
One very memorable year we made butter. Before your drift off into visions of cows and a butter churn, let me assure you it was nothing like that and you can do it later today if you’d like. The only equipment needed is a clean jar with a tightly fitting lid. Ingredients are simple: heavy whipping cream. (It should be fresh, not from the cow, but never frozen.) OK, you’ve caught the vision: no cows, no churns and no bonnets. To make butter, put the cream in the jar and close the lid tightly. Give the jar to the children and tell them to get shaking. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour for the butter to form, depending on how vigorous and constant the jar is being shaken. Arms do tend to tire, so it is a good idea to have several potential jar shakers on hand. The butter will appear as a cohesive glob in the jar. Once the butter lump appears continue to shake for several minutes longer to let it set up more, and to let any additional butter form. When done, proudly place your homemade butter on the table. Note: this is pure butter, no salt or yellow coloring added so while it will taste fabulous, it might be different in taste or appearance from what you are used to.
Cooking together really gets at the heart of Thanksgiving. Children love to help in the kitchen. It may take a bit longer, and clean up may be a bit more than it would be if you cooked alone, but there are compensations. Chief among them: picky eaters become less so as they help prepare their own food. A cooking activity works best with simple, easily constructed recipes are used. For Thanksgiving Corn bread is not only simple but delicious. Here is a fun recipe you can try together:
Grease and flour 8x8 pan, preheat oven to 425
Combine in bowl:
1 cup corn meal
1c sifted flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
In another bowl combine and add to dry ingredients:
1 beaten egg
¼ cup oil
1 cup milk
Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
There is never a better time to take a drive in the country than at Thanksgiving. The richness of fall colors and smells will yield a feast for the senses. Many farms open their fields to the public this time of year. Activities that you can look forward to include perusing a wide variety of farm fresh produce. This will include several Thanksgiving favorites like corn and pumpkins. But the variety is likely to amaze. Some farms offer apple picking, and demonstrations on apple pressing. It is fun to see how the apple becomes juice. Don’t get so caught up in the produce that you fail to see the animals. There are many to get acquainted with like bulls and large horses. Some of the less intimidating residents may even be available to hold and pet. Kids love goats, rabbits, piggys and even the more common cat and dog.
Seeing the genesis of the harvest and its bounty is a great activity to commemorate Thanksgiving.
Other fun Thanksgiving activities to do as a family are: a drive to collect the turning leaves, creating a center piece for the table, watching a movie or inventing a new Thanksgiving sport. Spending time together, no matter how simple the activity, helps create Thansgiving memories for everyone.
Thanksgiving crafts are the perfect reason to take some time off from kitchen duty and let your crafty side roam free.
Let's all Give Thanks for Glitter and Glue
Thanksgiving is often a holiday spent slaving over a hot stove. The results of all this culinary frenzy are the center of the season, but why should food monopolize your time and stress you out. Take a breather, gather the kids and have a bit of fun. Thanksgiving and harvest are rich with all sorts of crafting opportunities.
No childs memory book is complete without at least one handprint turkey. The classic and most easily made handprint turkey is a simple outline of your childs hand. Decorate the thumb with a snood, beak and eyes to make the face. Then let your child decorate the rest of the body. The other fingers serve as the tail feathers. To take it up a notch or two glue actual feathers to the tail, use glue and red glitter for the snood or dress the turkey with clothing giving it a personality. Have your child create a barnyard scene and perhaps write a story of poem to along with their creation.
Make a cylinder from black construction paper to form the body of the hat. Dont forget to add a buckle. Cut a buckle out of gold or silver paper then glue it to the hat near the bottom. To make a buckle with fashion appeal add glitter or cut out a buckle then wrap it with tinfoil. To make the brim cut out a large circle, with a smaller circle on the inside to make a hole in the center. The center hole should be at least a half inch smaller than the hole in the bottom of the hat. To attach the brim, cut the half inch over lap into tabs. Fold the tabs back to create an opening the same size as the hole in the upper portion of the hat. Glue each tab inside the hat and allow to dry. To help the hat stay in place, add yarn that can be tied under the chin.
To make a piggy bank, or candy corn holder attach the brim to the upper portion of the hat without cutting a hole in the bottom. Use a thick line of plain glue or hot glue to attach the pieces of the hat together then allow to dry. For a candy holder leave the top open. For a bank close the top by cutting a circle that is a half inch larger than the opening in the top, cutting then gluing the tabs inside the top of the hat. Dont forget to cut a slot for coins to pass through.
If your little pilgrim comes in the girl variety, you can make a bonnet for her easily. Supplies you will need are: a large piece of white paper, hole punch, yarn and scissors.
Place the paper lengthwise on the work surface and make the brim of the bonnet by folding back a one inch strip along the long side. In the back cut two slits about 3-4 inches long, toward the front of the hat. Shape the bonnet to your dames head by placing it on top of her head and bending the bonnet around her head. To have it hold its shape over lap the paper where the slits were cut and glue in place. If a long tail of paper is formed as the bonnet curves simply fold it under and glue it in place. Use the hole punch on the bottom corners in front and use yarn to create ties.
Corn and popcorn were both introduced to the Pilgrims by their native American friends According to historical accounts both corn and popcorn were served during the feasts of thanks the pilgrims and native Americans so long ago.
This history is great fun not only to eat, but craft! Start by either having the children draw a stalk of corn, or give them a template. Use green construction paper to create the stalk and husk of the ear of corn. Leave the husk open so that the cob inside is showing. Now you can either use corn kernels or popped corn to create the ripe corn cob.
Another delicious variation starts with a styrofoam base in the shape of an ear of corn. Attach the corn kernels or popped corn to the styrofoam pattern with hot glue, or pins. If you are using pop corn and want to add an extra challenge try stringing the fluffy white pop corn onto some thread with a needle. Then take the string and wind it around the styrofoam. Once the base is dressed out with kernels wrap it with scraps of green material to represent the husks. Make a bunch of them and hang them on the wall, or use in your thanksgiving center piece.
Anyone for dress up? Paper bags are a great base for costumes. Gather together paper grocery bags, crayons, glue and brown construction paper. Cut the paper bag open. If there is print on the bag you can turn it inside out. For a better fit you may want to alter the opening at the neck by making it larger. To make the sleeves cut openings in the sides of the bag.
Now that the cutting work is done, comes the fun: decoration! Let your kids decorate the front, sides and back anyway they wish. All you need to do is get out the supplies then sit back and watch. Kids are so creative there will be some fabulous creations emerging. To add more fun supply the kids with glitter. If you are going for authenticity show them the basic zigzag, spiral or stick figure patterns often seen in Native American art. You can also add fringe by cutting the bag, or strips of construction paper then gluing them to the bag.
To create your very own horn of plenty start with an over size piece of construction paper then carefully cut slits length wise. Be sure to leave an inch wide boarder around the outside edge uncut. Next prepare inch wide strips of construction paper that are same length as the shorter side of the large construction paper you have just cut. Use the strips of paper to create a woven pattern by weaving the horn of plenty. Glue the ends of each strip securely in place when you are done weaving.
The cone shape is created by rolling the woven construction paper starting with the long side of the paper then gluing it in place. You can now add all your favorite fruits and vegetables, real or construction paper it makes no difference. Change it up a bit by going on a nature walk and let your child select his or her favorite colored leaves to display inside your cornucopia.
Paper dolls are perfect Thanksgiving crafts. Little girls love paper dolls, let this Thanksgiving be marked by a new doll created by your child. This easy project begins with a basic body pattern of a boy and a girl. Let your child draw face, hair and any other decorations they may like on the pattern. Cut out the pattern. The doll alone is not enough. Next comes the attire. You can use patterns, or use the doll as your reference and let the child function as designer and creator. To make these dolls applicable to the season include basic pilgrim garb in the wardrobe.
The variety and creative potential is limited only by your childs imagination. A double bonus is that once the fun of creation is done, the fun of play is just begun. It is best to use heavy paper or laminate the colored doll and clothing. If your child intends to play with his or her creation these preparations will dramatically increase the longevity of your childs creation.
Let your child help with the dinner table décor by creating custom homemade place mats for each place setting. Have your children draw a picture of each person attending dinner. Perhaps a picture of what they are thankful for this year.
If drawing or painting is not something that sounds fun, you can weave placemats. Start with any color of construction paper you like, and then cut slits in the paper leaving a one inch boarder all the way around intact. Next weave the construction paper with narrow strips of construction paper securing the end of each strip in place with glue once the weaving is done. Decorate with construction paper cut into leaves, acorns, corn, pilgrim hats, buckles or turkeys anything goes.
You can also have the place mats double as place markers by having the names of your guests written on each mat.
There is so much to be grateful for; may this be the year that cute Thanksgiving crafts, time spent with the ones you love the most and stress free family fun are high on your list and fresh in your memories.
Thanksgiving games are a winner this time of year. There is nothing like a great game to keep those famous Thanksgiving family feuds at bay
It may not be some folk's idea of a game, but there is nothing more fun than making pies with a whole bunch of people. The fun of making pies can be shared by people all ages and the best part of the pie game is that it will cut back on your Thanksgiving meal preparation.
For younger chefs a few precautionary steps will make the process more gamish for both you and your little pie makers. Decide which kind of pies you will be making and get the shopping done beforehand. For youngsters it is a good idea to choose cream pies. Having several crusts made and baked before hand which the kids can fill with cream will stave off the "'is it done yet?" impatience of youngsters. Other items that help especially in the mess department are pre-measuring ingredients, aprons, and covering the work surfaces in tablecloths.
Once you know what pies you will be making have the kids help add ingredients. Cracking eggs is especially fun for children, but it is best to do this in a separate container so that any stray shells can be removed prior to addition to the pie. To simplify things further use instant pudding rather than homemade pudding, and add bananas, berries, peaches or other fresh fruit to create a few delectable pies.
Older more experienced chefs can have more free reign. They will have fun rolling out the pie crusts, paring the fruits and measuring themselves. All you really need to do is select and shop for the recipes they will be making, and be on hand for questions and safety supervision. Add the element of competition and have the results judged in a blind tasting.
Tired and want to rest; but still need to entertain your children and guests? Nothing could be easier hosting a peanuts party. Have jelly beans and popcorn to eat then sit the whole gang down to watch Charlie Brown struggle with Peppermint Patty's forwardness. Make a game out of it by requiring a green jelly bean to be eaten each time some one says good grief, a red bean for block head and so forth. (This is even more fun with novelty jelly beans of unusual flavor.)
A movie and a game all while you get to sit back and relax on the couch. Perfect for the end of a busy day!
You don't have to make your own visit a corn maze, unless you really want to (and in that case you'd better start in mid to late May by planting a robust crop of corn). Seriously...this is a fabulous game for any Thanksgiving gathering. Send the children and the men folk off to a corn maze while you and the girls enjoy a stress free afternoon of holiday baking, preparation or perhaps a break with a glass of wine. Mazes appeal to kids of all ages. The youngest will need some help (and it is a good idea to take snacks so you don't end up with a very grumpy toddler midway). Older kids can take off on their own and you will know they are safe.
Whether you play out of doors or indoors a scavenger hunt will occupy time while waiting for the feast to begin or heighten the fun of a Thanksgiving party. The preparation is easy. First gather enough bags for each team or participant then create a list. To prevent lost lists print the list on a large packing label and stick it to the bag. Put a pencil in each bag so items can be marked off as they are found.
Items to be found can be anything from pennies bearing certain dates to pumpkin seeds or feathers. If you want this scavenger hunt to be especially geared to Thanksgiving you will want to make the items reflect that theme. You may also want to seed the hunting area with the items listed. For example you can list turkeys on the items sheet then hide pictures of turkeys around the house or in the outside playing area. Going door to door may not be the idea for this game because this is a holiday and while children playing outside won't bother anyone, children going door to door might.
Try starting a family tradition of an annual Thanksgiving game of football. It doesn't matter what kind of football your family chooses to play, so long as all who want to play can be included. One of the things Thanksgiving is about is family, not crushing someone at football.
To make the game friendly to all players modify the rules or choose a variation on the game that all can play. Touch or flag football is generally easier on the body and friendlier to a co-ed team. If you like the idea of flag football, but don't have the flags you used to use in gym class, improvise. Use a pair of socks. Tuck one on each hip: instant flags.
Touch and flag football are great but they may still leave the youngest players in the cold. To be sure youngest players are included you can divide into four age based teams. The grown players cheering while the younger teams play and then let the youngsters cheer as the more chronologically advanced teams play. Other inclusion ideas are: Have the adults play left handed, play in partnered teams pairing littlest players with the largest players like football meets a three legged race. Or play a more morphed version of football than flag or touch.
A great variation is Frisbee golf. Teams score by entering the end zone with the Frisbee, but they can't run once the Frisbee is caught. The Frisbee can be thrown multiple times after the snap until it is intercepted, dropped or a touchdown is made. Interceptions and dropped Frisbees result in a turn over and the opposing team snaps from where the turn over occurred. After a touch down there is a "kick off" at mid field, although the Frisbee is thrown to the opposite team rather than kicked. It won't harm this game in the slightest if you would rather throw a football than a Frisbee.
Don't laugh...this is based on a real game played by the pilgrims all those hundreds of years ago. Their game did not include little wooden tiles though. To play each player needs a piece of paper and a pencil. A timer is also needed. The game starts when one person (it doesn't matter who, but it should be a different person each round) states a long word like: transportation. Players write the word at the top of their paper. Then begin play by taking the first letter of the word (T) and writing as many words they can think of that begin with that letter in 90 seconds. When the time is up, players compare lists. Points are awarded only to words that were not repeated on anyone else's list. Play then begins again with the next letter, and continues until all letters have been played. If a letter is repeated, skip it and move onto the next. When all letters have been played tally points, declare the winner, select a new word and begin again.
If traditional Scrabble is more your thing, have fun! Maybe you can shake up your usual routine by playing speed scrabble.
This game is your basic tag, and even the youngest children can play. Rules are simple, avoid the player who is "it" while running from one safe spot to the next. Safe spots are anything made of wood. If "it" catches you off of a safe spot it is your turn to be "it". To insure a fast paced game it may be necessary to include a time limit for staying still at one safe spot. Perhaps you have to change spots after counting to 10.
In this Thanksgiving game the usual role of it is reversed in that everyone is trying to catch "it", not avoid "it". All players except "it" are blind folded. "It" holds a jingle bell and jingles it as the other players try to catch "it" by following the sound. Once a child finds "it" the bell is passed to them and play resumes.
Thanksgiving games add even more fun to an already special holiday. Gather the family and play this Thanksgiving!
The history of Thanksgiving is something to be remembered and shared, especially with children. It doesn’t matter where or when Thanksgiving began, but the history is interesting.
Observance of a season of thanks is not a new historical occurrence, but the observance of a national holiday is new. Countries across the globe have held harvest celebrations annually from time immemorial, what sets the American and Canadian holidays of Thanksgiving apart is that these are the first recorded Holidays Nationally set apart just for thanks.
Thanksgiving or harvest celebrations have always been prominently recognized as an important part of history as well as a way of life. But there was not a nationally recognized holiday. Although a national day of thanks had been celebrated for years it was not a national holiday. We can thank President Abraham Lincoln for giving us Thanksgiving. After the civil war in an effort to heal the country’s wounds Lincoln declared a national day of celebration and thanks in 1863. This became an annual observance. The date was not fixed until 1941 when congress declared that the annual date of Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday in November each year.
Some of you may ask Lincoln, Congress, 1941: What happened to the pilgrims, Native Americans, turkey and corn? Did my First Grade teacher lie about Thanksgiving history? No she didn’t; this all happened just as she told you it did. The pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and were beset with hunger, disease and an inability to adapt rabidly enough to their new home. Had it not been for Squanto and other Native Americans who befriended and taught the Pilgrims of Plymouth the colony would most likely lay nameless and forgotten on the pages of history. But their story is retold as a symbol and basis of our yearly celebrations. Turkey, corn, pumpkin pie and even the notion of a feast all sprouted from that first celebration of thanks and bounty in 1621.
Although the feast lasted over three days, and included an entire colony of pilgrims and 90 Native Americans this harvest celebration of Thanksgiving was not, nor did the participants ever intent the celebration to become an annual occurrence.
In fact, while significant and historically important, the pilgrim’s celebration feast with their Native American benefactors wasn’t even the first recorded American Thanksgiving. If the Spanish had prevailed in America the story would be very different finding genesis in St Augustine, Florida. The earliest recorded history of a Thanksgiving celebration on American soil was held on September 5th 1565 when Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived in Florida with 600 others. He ordered a Mass of Thanksgiving, not a harvest celebration, to be held to show gratitude for their save arrival in the New World.
Perhaps the notion of celebration at the end of a good year’s harvest is not a new idea, pagan harvest festivals of Europe go back thousands of years, but setting aside a day dedicated to simple gratitude for the gifts life has bestowed upon us is a relatively new idea on the stages of history. Let’s hope it isn’t just a passing fad. Happy Thanksgiving.