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Feeling Festive

7 ways to spice up Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather, celebrate, give thanks and reflect on the year. This year your Thanksgiving might look a little different, and that’s OK. Below are seven ways that can help you bring a little some-thing extra to your gathering no matter the size.

Fall Greeting: Entry Door Decor

This year try welcoming your guests with something festive. Not into anything over the top? No worries—try something low-key. A potted mum and a pumpkin on either side of the entrance are simple and affordable ways to dress up an otherwise plain door. If you want to add to the fun, try layering a welcome mat with a colorful rug and hanging a wreath on the door. Get creative!

Fragrant Simmer

There is nothing quite like a delicious aroma to define your holiday gathering, and our homemade recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Have a crew with sensitive sniffers? Try preparing this recipe the night before so hints of the fragrance linger the next day.

Erin Hughes

Inviting Fall Fragrant Simmer

2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 apple, thinly sliced
1–2 sprigs rosemary
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1–2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water (enough to cover all ingredients). Add all of your ingredients. (You can always add or remove items depending on your scent preferences or allergy restrictions.) Bring to a low boil, then turn the stovetop down to low heat.

2. Simmer for as long as desired, up to 2 hours, checking and replenishing water as required. Never leave the stovetop unattended. Remember, safety first! The scent is sure to be an aromatic welcome for guests.

Cook’s Tip

You can use overripe fruit that has become too soft to eat. If you have a mini slow cooker, use that instead of the stovetop.

Festive Outdoor Tablescape

When decorating your table for the holidays, try stretching your creativity and utilizing items you can find in your yard to fit your color scheme. This can also double as a budget-friendly and fun activity for kids. Items like pine cones and needles, local flowers, pecans, acorns, pampas grass, leaves, and tree limbs make great additions to a fall-themed table-scape. Remember to always check for bugs before bringing them inside—you wouldn’t want unexpected guests.

Erin Hughes

Custom Charcuterie

Nothing makes for a happy guest like a full belly. If you need something to hold over family members until the main course, try a custom charcuterie board tailored to your family’s preferences and budget.

We suggest the following: Use what you have, buy what you need and add what you like. Your creation doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, but if you want to include a couple of items to give it that little something extra, then go ahead!

Start with basics like meats, cheeses, sauces (and bowls), crackers, and a large serving platter or tray. Add in fillers like fruit, olives, pickles, nuts and veggies. Specialty items like spices, edible flowers and herbs make great garnishes and are sure to elevate your design. Remember, there is no wrong way to make your board. Get creative and have fun with your designs. Below is a list of basic suggestions to help you get started, but items should be selected based on your family’s preferences and dietary restrictions.

Erin Hughes

Cured meats: turkey, ham, prosciutto, salami, pepperoni and bacon

Cheeses: Brie, colby jack, pepper jack, cheddar, fresh mozzarella, feta and goat cheeses

Sauces and dips: hummus, ranch, blue cheese, jellies and jams, mustards, French onion dip, honey, pesto, and balsamic vinegar

Crackers and bread: water crackers, baguette, whole-grain crackers, breadsticks, pretzels and crostini

Family Fun: Games and Outdoor Activities

What better way to work up an appetite than a fun activity outside. This Thanksgiving try incorporating some outdoor activities and games to get your guests up and moving. If the weather doesn’t play nice, try some indoor activities or board games to help limit screen time.

Thankfulness Crafts

When it comes to family time, a great way to encourage togetherness is through a craft that incorporates thankfulness. Finding a way to promote appreciation can be a fun bonding activity for everyone.

Try stretching out craft paper across your dining table and having family and guests write everything they are thankful for. Then use the paper as a table runner for your decorations and tablescape. Use any uncarved pumpkins as a great way to promote thankfulness the entire month of November by writing one thing each family member is thankful for every day around the pumpkin. Start at the top and fill it up! Come Thanksgiving, you will have a fully decorated “thankful” pumpkin.

Service Project Ideas

This Thanksgiving let’s use the time together to promote a sense of community by incorporating a service project into our gatherings. We encourage you to get creative and pay it forward.

Here are some easy ways your family can give back:

  • Hold a collection drive for coats, shoes, socks, school supplies and food for your local shelter.
  • Anonymously sponsor a family in need.
  • Provide a socially distant Thanksgiving meal to an elderly neighbor or friend.
  • Make a donation to the charity or cause of your choice.
  • Write letters to residents at a local nursing facility.

No matter how you spend your time together, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving!