Get ready, get set…. the holiday season is just days away! You know what that means: grandkids, their parents, friends, and all the family sharing time together. We’ve got great recipes and some fun suggestions on how to spend Thanksgiving Day, or how to start meaningful Turkey Day traditions. Our mix of kid-friendly indoor and outdoor activities will bring everyone together in the true spirit of the holiday.
1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Families have enjoyed watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV since 1948 (the parade was first held in 1924). Watching giant balloons, floats, and marching bands roll through the streets of New York City with your kids (while still dressed in your jammies) is a cozy and magical way to start the holiday.
2. Do a “Turkey Trot” Run or Walk
Everyone in your family can work up an appetite for your Turkey Day feast by participating in a community walk or run. There’s probably a “turkey trot” or two in your area; the registration fees typically benefit a good cause. Another idea: take a leisurely walk around the block after your Thanksgiving dinner.
3. Play Touch Football
If you have a house full of sports’ fans, it might be tough to pry their eyes away from all the televised football games on Thanksgiving Day. But, striking up a family game of touch football is a much more memorable way to spend the day.
4. Have a Mini Pumpkin Hunt
Another fun group activity that’s perfect for toddlers on up is a mini pumpkin hunt. It’s one of our favorite pumpkin-themed activities. You can hide one or more mini pumpkins, indoors or outside, and let the family loose — like an Easter egg hunt with an autumn twist. One other idea is to play “Fill the Cornucopia,” asking kids to find all sorts of hidden items — such as apples, Indian corn, and small gourds — to fill a cornucopia or basket on the Thanksgiving table.
5. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
One admirable way to spend Thanksgiving Day is serving food to less-fortunate families at a soup kitchen, church, or community center. If you can’t help on the holiday itself, look into ways your family can pitch in beforehand, such as collecting and sorting donated food or baking pies from the heart.
6. Have a Board Game Tournament
A little friendly competition helps families bond on Thanksgiving — as long as everyone is a good sport! Gather up all your family’s favorite games and play multiple rounds — or even a few different games — before crowning this year’s family board-game champion.
7. Video-Chat with Far-away Relatives
Online chatting on a tablet or computer allows families to connect from across the country, and even around the world. If you have a loved one or two who are too far away to visit on Thanksgiving, chatting over Skype or another video-chatting service will make their day. (A good ol’ phone call is still nice, too!)
8. Make Crafts and Color
We know the possible scene at your house: someone, and that might be you, is busy cranking out a feast in the kitchen. A crowd in the other room is watching football. The kids are bored or cranky or running wild. Set the youngsters up with some simple craft materials so they can make festive creations, or — even easier yet — break out the crayons and print out holiday coloring pages to keep them entertained until turkey time.
9. Help the Hosts
It’s never too early to teach kids how to lend a hand to the holiday dinner hosts (even if it’s their Mom and Dad)! Children can help with everything from setting and decorating the table to mashing potatoes — and entertaining older guests, too. Everyone will admire how polite your little helpers are!
10. Give Thanks in Your Own Way
This is really what it’s all about: giving thanks for family, friends, the holiday feast, and other good fortune. Relatives and guests can give thanks for something verbally at the dinner table, write and exchange Thanksgiving thank-you cards, or find another unique way to be grateful. Showing gratitude helps children learn about the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!
Our Go-to Thanksgiving Recipes*
From turkeys (you kind of need one!) to cocktails (you definitely need one!) and everything in-between.
This is a good option for cold-weather Thanksgivings eaten under threatening skies, since the combination of herbs and citrus provides a house-filling aroma that speaks to sunniness. Garnish with sprigs of sage and thyme, but be careful with the rosemary, as a little goes a long way.
- 1 (12-14) lb turkey, giblets and neck removed, at room temperature for 1 hour
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Set a rack inside a large roasting pan. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub bird inside and out with salt and pepper.
- Place turkey on the rack in the pan. Using a fork, mix butter, lemon zest, rosemary, sage, and thyme in a small bowl. Rub herb butter over top of turkey and inside cavity.
- Place onion, orange, and lemon inside turkey cavity. Tuck tips of wings under bird (this prevents them from burning during the long roasting time). Pour 4 cups water into pan. Roast turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Baste turkey with pan juices; add more water if needed to maintain at least 1/4″ liquid in the bottom of roasting pan. Continue roasting turkey, basting every 30 minutes and tenting with foil if skin is turning too dark, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165°F (juices should run clear when thermometer is removed), about 2 3/4 hours total.
- Transfer turkey to a platter. Tent with foil and let rest for 1 hour before carving.
3-INGREDIENT THANKSGIVING STUFFING
Cranberry-nut bread and sweet Italian sausage pack a surprising amount of flavor into this super-simple stuffing.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pan
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
- 3 large celery stalks, sliced crosswise into 1/4″ pieces (about 2 cups); plus whole leaves for serving (optional)
- 2 (1-pound) loaves cranberry-nut bread, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 3-qt. baking dish. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high. Cook sausage, breaking up into pieces with the back of a spoon, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add sliced celery and continue to cook, stirring often, until sausage is cooked through, 5–7 minutes. Transfer sausage mixture with drippings to a large bowl. Add bread and toss to combine.
- Add 2 cups water to hot skillet; heat over medium-high, scraping up brown bits with a spoon; season with salt and pepper. Pour over bread mixture, then toss to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
- Bake stuffing 40 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until top is lightly browned and crisp, 20–25 minutes more. Top with celery leaves, if desired.
SOUR CREAM MASHED POTATOES
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2″ pieces
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2″ pieces
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter; plus more for serving (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Special equipment: A potato ricer
- Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2″. Generously season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 10–15 minutes. Drain and transfer potatoes to a baking sheet; let stand until dry, 10–15 minutes. Set pot aside.
- Meanwhile, heat cream, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; season with salt and pepper.
- Pass potatoes through ricer or just mash them and put into reserved pot. Mix in warm milk mixture, then sour cream; season with salt. Serve topped with pepper and more butter, if desired.
BOURBON SPIKED APPLE CIDER
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- Bourbon (recommend Bulleit or Basil Hayden’s)
PREPARATION to make the hot cider:
- Place the apple cider, cinnamon stick, orange juice, cloves and star anise in a small pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a pitcher.
- To make the drink:
- In glass add 2 oz bourbon and 1 cup of the cider mix.
- Garnish with an orange slice and stick of cinnamon.
*Recipe Source: www.foodnetwork.com