Thanksgiving is a favorite. It doesn't matter what you believe or if you have a gift budget. It's all about food, family, friends and gratitude.
This year, we're having Thanksgiving dinner with friends who kindly told me to bring nothing but the wine. Usually, this would be my day of making pumpkin trifle and stuffing. Rick would handle the turkey. I'd use the turkey dishes that were my mom's. I love it.
I am so glad I don't have to do that this year.
That said, I'm still thinking of some of my favorite holiday prep tips and I thought I'd share them with you.
Thanksgiving decorating is the easiest of all the seasons. No egg dye. No special lighting. Just look around.
Pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn are still readily available in the stores -- or perhaps in your garden.
Your environment is begging you to think creatively!
My friend Barb did a masterful tablescape last year for a seasonal gathering.
She used pumpkins, the last of her garden flowers, candles.
The oranges and purples were a perfect combination for a festive evening.
Barb also made a nice piece for her window but it would also work for a buffet -- tall grasses from the yard, plus a few gourds in a long basket.
(These look incredibly easy. It would be useful to mention that in her previous lifetime a number of years ago, she was a floral designer and is a wonderful gardener!)
My friend Judy often hosts a Thanksgiving-Eve dinner. She has such an eye for using what she has to the best effect.
A stone angel nested in moss, a pumpkin with straw -- it's simple and lovely.
The year Rick had his bike crash shortly before Thanksgiving was perhaps my most memorable. Not knowing if he'd be up to a big deal (and the boys were with their mom), I had ingredients for stuffing, veggies, a turkey breast. Things I'd already purchased.
That morning when we woke up, both of us were feeling pretty good. We decided to call two couples we knew, wonderful and supportive friends who also didn't have concrete plans for dinner. They knew what we were up against, so their expectations for my "Martha" mode were low.
I had a wonderful gourd I'd bought at a greens market the week before, some raffia, and a basket.
I tossed them together till they looked right, set the table with mom's dishes and crystal, added some votive candles, and it looked just fine! No stress.
I will never forget the love and emotion that day as we gathered at my table and gave thanks that Rick didn't suffer greater injuries in his accident. And truth be told, we all had many things that year for which to give thanks.
The point is, whether you are stacking up the squash for next week's roasting or pulling some interesting branches from the yard, or even cutting off the heads of your end-of-season seedum plant, you probably have a centerpiece without planning! If you're crafty and have feathers in your stash, a vase you can fill with nuts or some leftover sheet moss, bonus points! You're good to go!
The point isn't the decorating. It isn't even the food. It's the joy of being with family and friends. It's the giving thanks and the giving back.
Five Ways You Can Give Thanks by Giving to Others.
- Make a donation to a food bank -- either with packaged or canned foods or a financial donations. Some states (Michigan is one) offer a tax credit for donations to food banks. (This is the last year for Michigan's credit, so there's no better time to do it if you're in this state!)
- Invite a foreign student or someone without family or connections to join you for dinner.
- Give the person behind you in the grocery line an extra five in your purse -- or slip it to the cashier and ask to have that go toward the next person in line.
- Remember to give thanks to those far away -- a card or a call just to remind them you're grateful they are part of your life will really make their day.
- If you're baking, take cookies, a pie or a loaf of bread to a neighbor who may have helped you out when you least expected it. You're already baking -- what's hard about a double batch?! Or give them some flowers or something for their table. Even grocery stores are getting nicer flowers these days! Pass a small bouquet along.