Oct 21

How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

stress-free-thanksgivingHosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a daunting task for any seasoned chef. But with a few simple planning techniques and the right amount of help, you’ll focus less on the details and more on enjoying the process and a tasty outcome. Here are five easy ways to make sure your Thanksgiving dinner goes off without a hitch:

1. Plan ahead.

Without a clear plan of attack, festivities can easily get off course and create stress and distractions. Sitting down in advance to outline what you’ll need and when you need to do things will make your dinner prep a smoother process from start to finish. Tip: Make sure any allergies or dietary restrictions are on your radar prior to developing the menu.

2. Keep it simple.

Forget the complicated recipes and over-the-top décor you found in a magazine and stay focused on classic staples. Thanksgiving is not the day to experiment, so think about what can realistically be done in the amount of time given and stick to what you do best.

3. Prepare what you can in advance.

Cooking a large dinner is all about timing, and capturing the right cadence between each dish can be tricky. Eliminate some of the pressure by setting the table early or preparing part of the meal ahead of time.

4. Enlist the help of others.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean having to do it alone. Asking guests to bring a small dish of their choice not only takes some of the pressure off you, but also helps guests feel that they’ve contributed to the meal. If it becomes too complicated, don’t turn down help when it’s time to clean-up either.

5. End on a sweet note.

The end of the meal is just as important as the beginning, so treat your guests to a delicious cup of coffee without having to leave the table. The Bluetooth-connected Saeco GranBaristo Avanti lets you prepare espresso-based drinks directly from your tablet or smartphone. Queue each of your guests’ orders right at the table with 18 fully customizable drink options to choose from.


Oct 17

5 Tips for Pulling Off the Perfect Thanksgiving Celebration

thanksgiving-celebrationEntertaining family and friends at Thanksgiving is a beautiful fall tradition, but it shouldn’t become a source of stress for the host. With a bit of preparation, some new fun ideas and a few classics you can host a celebration that’s sure to impress. Follow these five tips for a successful Thanksgiving dinner:

1. If possible, get a head start:

Once the invitations have been sent, jot down the list of items you’ll need for the festivities. Many can be bought before the big day. Put out extra chairs and install your table extensions the night before. It’s also a good idea to prepare and cook some dishes beforehand if you can. Be strategic and develop a game plan for the order things should be cooked in the oven.

2. Ask for help:

Your guests will usually be family members and close friends. There is no shame in asking for help in serving drinks, preparing salad dressing, or basting the turkey — most will be happy to help, and some may even offer ideas you hadn’t thought about.

3. Plan a warm welcome:

The weather is definitely cooler at Thanksgiving, so why not welcome guests with a delicious hot drink? Keep the autumn theme by brewing up Green Mountain Hot Apple Cider Mix in K-Cup pods for the Keurig system. Made from real apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, this fall mix will take the chill off while its sweet aromas create a sense of instant warmth.

4. Decorate simply:

This year, don’t fuss with fancy tablecloths and napkins you’re afraid will get dirty. Instead, use kraft paper and let kids and adults have fun by drawing their own designs right on the paper. You can even write your guests’ names at their assigned place. This DIY touch cost next to nothing and is sure to please.

5. Clean with moderation:

Don’t stress out too much about your house being spotless before guests arrive. Focus on the rooms where people are most likely to go, such as the front hall, bathroom and dining room. The kitchen isn’t worth fussing about because it’s bound to get dirty with all the cooking going on. And remember, your guests are coming to see you not to inspect how clean your closets are!


Oct 02

Top 3 Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

thanksgiving-hosting-tipsWhether it’s your first or twentieth time hosting loved ones for Thanksgiving, everyone can use some extra advice on making the event super special and delicious. Don’t fret and get on track easily with these three hosting tips for both traditional and modern décor schemes:

1. Welcome guests with sights and scents that please.

Before guests arrive, have pumpkin pie baking in the oven so that the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger greet them. You can find an easy pumpkin pie and other Thanksgiving recipes online at carnationmilk.ca. You can also decorate your walkway, front door, or foyer with Thanksgiving-themed accents. Doing this will make guests feel at home quickly and spark conversations.

Traditional: Place a wreath in fall colours on your front door and decorate your front steps or foyer with ornamental corn or mini orange pumpkins.

Modern: For a funkier vibe, embrace a different colour scheme, like white, grey, and silver. This neutralizes the tone of your décor, while maintaining a fall feel. Paint mini pumpkins white with silver stems, or put a birch wreath on your door instead of an orange one.

2. Ensure your table has the basics covered.

In the weeks leading up to the main event, count up all your dishes, mugs, and cutlery to ensure you have enough for everyone. Don’t forget often-overlooked items like a pie slicer, a carving knife, and a gravy boat. Next, plan your table’s theme to feel Thanksgiving-appropriate.

Traditional: Tie straw strings around the necks of mason jars, looping them into a bow. Arrange them down the centre of the table and fill them with sprigs from maple trees with the orange, red, and yellow leaves still on.

Modern: Pick up some ornamental corn (dried husks on), trim the husks to your liking, and spray paint the cobs silver. Lay one at the top of everyone’s place — you can even write their name on the husk for a personal touch.

3. Plan for your littlest visitors.

If children are going to be in attendance, plan something specifically for them. Both kids and their parents will appreciate your efforts.

Traditional: Greet your youngest arrivals at the door with a Thanksgiving-themed colouring book and crayons.

Modern: Set up an easy-to-reach dessert station with paper plates, sprinkles, whipped cream, and pumpkin pie tarts — you can put tarts in the oven before guests arrive. Encourage kids to decorate the tarts to their liking and even serve them to others.


Aug 29

Thanksgiving Craft Ideas For Kids

thanksgiving art projectThese Thanksgiving craft ideas for kids is a fun way to celebrate this special occasion. Make it a family project for some quality time giving thanks and enjoying the season. Rather it be a Pilgrim’s hat, a Native American headband or even a turkey or some harvest, these ideas will make a great addition to your decorations.

Here are just a couple of ideas to help you and your kids celebrate this special day.

Thanksgiving Craft Idea #1

Pine Cone Turkey

Turkey’s are the main course for Thanksgiving, not only at the dinner table but for this project. Try this easy and inexpensive turkey using a pine cone, some colored paper and pipe cleaners. Make several to set around the house for some colorful Thanksgiving decorations.


  • 1 Pine Cone
  • Colored Pipe Cleaners
  • Red Paper
  • 2 Small Wiggle Eyes
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue


  1. Place your pine cone on the table and find the best spot where it will lay still. This will be the bottom of the turkey.
  2. Take several pipe cleaners of different colors and cut them in half. Depending on the size of your pine cone, you may need to cut these a little bit more so the feathers are in proportion with the body.
  3. Fold each one creating a loop. Glue both ends to the pine cone towards the back of the turkey to form one layer of feathers. Alternate colors and glue enough pipe cleaners to go around the turkey’s body.
  4. Take more chinelles and cut into 4 sections. Repeat the above steps but glue these in front of the first layer.
  5. Now take a brown pipe cleaner and cut it in half. Take one half and twist together the two ends. Shape this into a birds head and beak. Glue this to the front of the pine cone for the turkey’s head.
  6. Glue on a small wiggle eye on one side of the head. Now glue on the other eye on the other side of the head.
  7. Cut out a small wattle using the red paper and glue this to the end of the beak.
  8. Lastly, cut an orange pipe cleaner in half. Shape both halves into turkey legs and feet. Trim off any excess that you need in order to fit under your turkey. Glue these on the front of the turkey on the bottom of the pine cone.

For this Thanksgiving craft idea you may have to work a bit with the legs by bending and shaping to make sure your turkey craft still stands when you are done. You can buy pine cones at a craft store but we like to find them around the neighborhood. Take a fun nature walk with the kids to collect the pine cones. If some of the cones are closed, just heat them up in an oven at 200 degrees for awhile until the sap is melted and the pine cone opens up.

Thanksgiving Craft Idea #2

Indian Corn Place Card Holders

Make a special place card holder for each of your guests coming for the big feast. With some cardboard tubes, small rocks or marbles and a colorful name card, these place cards will add some fun fall harvest to the dinner table.


  • Toilet Paper Cardboard Tube
  • Yellow, red, brown , tan and black paper
  • Hole Punch
  • Stick Glue
  • Scissors


  1. Cut a slit on two sides of the tube about half way down.
  2. From the top of the tube, cut and shape and oval down to about 1/4 inch away from the bottom of the slit. Leave this 1/4 inch for sliding the place card in when you are done.
  3. Repeat the above step for the other side of the tube so that when you are done you have two oval shapes (corn shape) on opposite sides of the cardboard tube.
  4. Using the hole punch, create several small dots with the yellow, brown, red and black paper. Create more yellow than the other colors.
  5. Take your glue stick and place a generous amount of glue on the front of the cardboard tube. Do small sections at a time so the glue doesn’t dry.
  6. Take your dots and begin to glue these on in rows. Use a lot of yellow and place the other colors in a random pattern throughout the corn cob. Completely cover the front and sides of the corn. Don’t worry about the back as we will be place corn husks in this area.
  7. Using the tan and brown paper, cut 3 or 4 corn husk shapes to go on the back. Make sure they are tall enough so you will see them over the top of the corn. Glue these onto the back of the cardboard tube.
  8. Cut one more corn husk but don’t glue this one on. Instead, write the name of the person and then slide this in the two slits on the side of the corn.

To show off this Thanksgiving craft idea, just place this place card holder at your dinner table. You can also make pilgrim hats and Native American Indian headbands using cardboard tubes to add many different types of holiday decorations around the table.


Author Julie Barros is the creator of Cool Kids Craft Ideas where you can find even more Thanksgiving craft ideas for kids.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Nov 15

Thanksgiving Table Set-Up Ideas

So you’ve spent your whole morning, or even the night before, prepping and cooking a delicious meal for your family. The turkey is displayed on a beautiful tray garnished with microgreens and stuffing. You have side dishes upon side dishes of colorful fruits and vegetables all laid out beside you. It almost feels like the feast is ready to commence… However, all of this beautiful, well-organized food deserves a table layout to match. This year add to the atmosphere with a setup that matches the quality of your dinner!


This setup from Martha Stewart is great for minimalist who like to host buffet-style dinners.

  • Keep things simple with clean colors such as black and white. Let your food add the color to your setup. (After all it is mostly about the food.)
  • Creating a simple banner to hang above is another great way to add to the festive decor. Phrases such as “Give Thanks” or “Be Thankful” are great sayings to hang over your food.
  • Sometimes we don’t have the space we need or want to successfully host our Thanksgiving meal but decorating a small shelving unit is a great way to transform your everyday furniture into an elegant table.

Table_MS2Sometimes a little color can never hurt, especially in those autumn tones. This table from The Tuscan Home is for those who want to embrace the fall season head on.

  • Keep your table clutter free with just a small, fall festive table runner racing down the middle. This will keep the attention of your guests to where it counts- the food.
  • Pick some autumn colors such as: maroon, red, yellow, orange and brown and stick with them. Color coordinating will help ease the eyes of your guests. Stay away from distracting patterns.
  • Embellish your table with some greenery! Getting simple plants with leaves and adding it as your centerpiece can help pull everything together. Be bold and add some of your favorite pumpkins from the pumpkin patch! Squashes and pears also make great additions.

Table_MS3This table from Happiness is Homemade is for the little ones who will be attending Thanksgiving this year!

  • Attract the children’s attention with bright oranges and vibrant reds. Incorporating these colors into your silverware and dishware will make the table look more cohesive.
  • Keep the children entertained! Sometimes sitting through a meal can be really hard on a kid so ensure that they always have something to do. Paper Turkey hats or print out coloring sheets are great things to place on each child’s seat.
  • Have a fun and durable centerpiece.




Nov 15

5 Facts About Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving DayThis year, gather around the family table and spread some knowledge about Thanksgiving! If you thought you knew all there was to know about this holiday then prepare to be entertained with these 5 facts!

The date of Thanksgiving was once changed.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once changed the traditional date of Thanksgiving to help boost the economy. He decided that changing the date to the second to last Thursday in November would extend Christmas shopping time. However very few states followed in this act. A compromise was then reached to hold Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of the month.

Thanksgiving greatly affects food sales.

This may seem like an obvious fact but when you get into the actual statistics, it’s quite impressive!

About 280 million turkeys are sold annually for Thanksgiving, yielding an average of 3 billion dollars worth in sales.

About 20% of yearly cranberry consumption occurs on Thanksgiving day. Nothing pairs better with Turkey than a side of cranberry sauce!

More Turkey is consumed on Thanksgiving than Easter and Christmas.

Popular opinion: The white part of the chicken is the best.

People enjoy eating it so much that farmers have genetically modified their produce to have extremely large breasts. The breasts of these farm animals are so large that they are unable to mate with others and are artificially inseminated instead.

Turkeys don’t have wings but have been to the moon.

Turkey was the first meal shared between Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when exploring the moon.

Not everyone eats Turkey.

This might seem reasonable, but a good 12% of Americans do not consume turkey on Thanksgiving. Rather they indulge in tofu, tofurky, ham or vegetables.



Nov 15

3 Alternative Ways To Celebrate Thanksgiving

pomegranate and lemon smoothieIf you are craving a change in tradition rather than just a slice of pie this holiday season then here are 3 great ways to keep Turkey day fun and exciting!

  1. Host a cocktail party! Instead of setting the table with plates of food, invite a mixologist into your home. This holiday is always centered around a bountiful buffet, so making it more beverage-centric will add some fun.You can still keep the drinks festive and fall themed using seasonal flavors such as: cinnamon, nutmeg and cranberry.
  2. Eat your dinner outside! Instead of being cramped inside a house filled with family members, you can enjoy your meal outside by packing a picnic and visiting a local park. After you are done stuffing your face you can set up some activities or sport related games such as: soccer, volleyball or tennis.
  3. Order take-out! Don’t be ashamed if you find yourself lacking in enthusiasm to cook for Thanksgiving Day. Preparing a 9-course meal can be rather exhausting and unbearable. Take this year off and relax by ordering take out at a local restaurant. It’s unlikely that there will be a lot of options available but ordering the night before can help. Grocery stores such as Whole Foods also offer a Thanksgiving menu that can be a great resource. Enjoy watching movies in your pajamas and feasting on your prepared meal.



Nov 08

Thanksgiving Pine Cone Turkey Craft

pineconesIf you want to decorate your home for Thanksgiving, you have a huge choice of turkey crafts that you can make so that your home looks festive for this important holiday. You do not have to be an expert crafter to make turkey crafts that look great and will not take a lot of time or money to create. Turkey crafts are some of the easiest. Here are a couple of ideas for you to try when making turkey crafts.

Pine Cone Turkey Craft

The first easy turkey we have for you just takes a pine cone, some orange construction paper, glue, scissors, and some wiggly eyes. Trace your child’s hand onto the construction paper with fingers slightly splayed. You’ll need two of these. Glue them to the back of the pine cone with the fingers pointing out (to resemble feathers). Glue on the wiggly eyes and make a wattle by cutting a small triangle out of the construction paper and gluing just below the eyes. That makes a cute turkey craft that will be a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving table décor!

Construction Paper Turkey Craft

Another one of the fun turkey we have made also involves your child’s involvement. All you need for this easy turkey craft is some glue, a pencil, a black marker, scissors, and brown, orange, yellow, and red construction paper. Start by tracing your child’s foot out of one of the colors of paper. DO NOT trace the individual toes! Then trace their hands with their fingers splayed out and DO trace the individual fingers! Trace their hands out of the various colors of paper to emulate feathers.

The heel of the foot print will be your turkey head. Arrange the hand prints behind the foot print to look like feathers and glue into place. Cut out two long strips of the brown construction paper and accordion fold for legs. Cut out feet for your turkey – use your imagination – it doesn’t have to be perfect! Draw on a face and cut a small triangle out of the red paper for the turkey wattle. Then you have cute Thanksgiving turkey crafts and be able to watch how your child changes from year to year if you make them every year. Don’t forget to write the age of your child and the year on the back of the turkey!

You can find all sorts of turkey art projects for Thanksgiving on the Internet. Space prevents us from giving you more than a couple, but think about how you can make turkey crafts out of supplies you have lying around the house and then go crazy! Turkey crafts are fun, but they are much more fun when they come from your own creative brain!


If you liked these Thanksgiving craft ideas then check out more at http://operationhappyhome.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Nov 07

NYC Insider Tips on Thanksgiving in New York City – Macy’s Parade and Map Where to Stay and Eat

Elf on the shelf balloon flying in 2013 Macy's Parade

Elf on the shelf balloon flying in 2013 Macy’s Parade

Thanksgiving in New York City can be a wonderful experience if you plan it correctly. These NYC Insider Tips will keep you from being one of those tourists I see all the time who have not planned accordingly for their holiday and are left wandering around in the cold or rain, with their poor children, looking for a restaurant or restroom near the Parade route, after 5 hours of standing outside.

Where to Stay Thanksgiving weekend – Some NYC hotels have great views of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (and some don’t!), making it easy to stay warm and dry, use a rest room, eat and STILL watch the Parade from a prime spot. Many of them also offer Thanksgiving in New York City Hotel Packages (though they can be pricey). Even if your room does not have a view of the parade, some of the hotels have restaurants or have worked out deals with local venues that do offer views of the Parade. Please note the Parade changed in 2009 and outdated hotel information exists claiming to be on the Parade route, when they no longer are on the route. A Parade Route Map can be found on the Macy’s website. These hotels may be still be close to the Thanksgiving Parade Route, but not actually on it.

Balloon Set Up – This can actually be as much fun as the Parade itself and many New Yorkers have stood outside with hot chocolate and watched the Parade balloons being blown up. You get an up close view of the balloons, with far less crowds and kids often find it funny to see just arms or legs, or just a head blown up with the rest of the balloon still deflated. Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Set up takes place the day before the Parade, usually starting at 3:00 pm, on either side of the American Museum of Natural History.

Snoopy with Woodstock in Macy's Day Parade

Snoopy with Woodstock in Macy’s Day Parade

Where to Stand – There are mixed reviews on where to stand, and some years the best place just depends on the weather. The best spot, of course, is anywhere you are near the front and can see the parade! The Macy’s website says the best viewing spot is on Central Park West. However, many people think this spot is fairly windy and cold, as it is shaded, and the parade members tend to rush through it. The latter folks prefer the 7th Avenue stretch of the Parade. You can check the best spots on the Thanksgiving Day Parade Map.

Where to Eat on Thanksgiving in New York City – the majority of restaurants in NYC are open on Thanksgiving Day, and many offer a pre-fixed Thanksgiving meal. Some NYC tourists prefer to eat right after the parade and tend to stick to restaurants that specifically appeal to tourists in the Times Square and Macy’s/ Herald Square area. These restaurants will be the most crowded, and likely, the least value for your money. If you are willing to venture away from the crowds, then NYC residential neighborhoods will offer you the best value and food for the money, especially as these neighborhoods are where New Yorkers eating out are likely to dine. Areas to consider are Greenwich Village, Union Square, Midtown East and Tribeca. For a reliable and very family friendly atmosphere, although still with a tourist appeal, you might consider Thanksgiving Dinner in Little Italy or Chinatown.

Things to Do on Thanksgiving in New York City – take note of which New York City Tourist Attractions are open and closed on Thanksgiving in New York City. All the major New York City Museums are usually closed, however, attractions such as Top of the Rock, Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty remain open 365 days per year. Please confirm any special holiday hours in advance.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Christmas Tree – if you are hoping to see the world famous tree lit during your stay, you will have to extend your trip, as the tree has always been lit on the first Wednesday in December. The Rockefeller Center Tree, without lights, will likely be on display during Thanksgiving weekend.


For more NYC Insider Tips on Thanksgiving in New York City, including a Parade Map, recommended restaurants for Thanksgiving Dinner and a list of open and closed attractions, please see, http://www.nycinsiderguide.com/Thanksgiving-in-New-York-City.html.

There are also free maps, budgeting guides, side-by-side attraction pass comparisons and lots of insider tips on planning your best New York City Vacation. Please enjoy the information on the NYC Insider Guide. I hope it helps you plan your Thanksgiving in New York City, so you not only go home as a NYC Insider, but plan to visit us again soon.

Melissa is a fourth-generation lifelong New Yorker, and owner of the NYC Insider Guide, http://www.nycinsiderguide.com, a website dedicated to making sure you get the most out of your trip to New York City, find our hidden NYC spots and learn exactly where to spend and save your money.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Nov 04

Fruity Roast Turkey Recipe – A Fast and Easy Holiday Turkey

A fruity, glazed, roasted turkey makes for a beautiful Thanksgiving feast.

A fruity, glazed, roasted turkey makes for a beautiful Thanksgiving feast.

Cooking for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday? The truth is, your roast turkey recipe will probably be the easy part. It tends to be all those side dishes and fixin’s that eat up all your time!

To make a basic roast turkey recipe, all you have to do is season the bird well, place it in your roasting pan and roast in the oven for the required amount of time, basting the bird occasionally with butter, broth, wine, or a mix of all three. Viola! Done. Some basic roast turkey recipes will change up the seasonings a bit or play with the cooking time or temperature, but the holiday turkey really can be that simple.

Making Turkey Anytime

But you don’t always want to roast a whole turkey. Turkey is such a healthy meat that it’s wonderful to have any time of year– just not necessarily a whole bird. Fortunately, cooking just the breast is easy any time, and a lot faster than roasting a whole turkey. You can even turn turkey breast into a really good company meal without a lot of fuss… especially if you use to simple but wonderful recipe below, which is perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any time of year.

All you need to pull off this wonderful, original roast turkey recipe? A jar of apricot preserves and some dried, diced apricots. The rest practically makes itself. It even includes a simple and wonderful recipe for dressing up a plain boxed stuffing mix for a ready-made side dish. The pecan-apricot stuffing recipe that results is really, really wonderful.

Apricot Glazed Roast Turkey Breast Recipe

1 4 to 5 pound turkey breast
1 jar of apricot preserves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 box of Stove Top Stuffing
1 cup of chicken stock
1 cup of dried apricots diced
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions: Preheat your oven at 425 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the turkey breast. Place in roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. In a small sauce pan, place the jar of apricot preserves, brown sugar and lemon juice. Heat mixture until preserves soften and mixture becomes liquid enough to spread over turkey breast.

Using a basting brush, baste turkey breast with apricot preserve mixture. Lower your oven heat to 325 and continue baking for 1 1/2 hours. Baste the turkey breast every 20 minutes.

As the turkey breast is roasting, make your Stove Top stuffing according to package directions, only use canned chicken broth in place of the water. Once stuffing is made, add pecans and apricots and mix well. Place dressing mixture in a greased casserole dish.

Place casserole dish in the same oven as the turkey breast and bake for the last 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove turkey breast when done and let stand for 10 minutes for easy slicing.  Garnish the turkey platter with fresh fruit for gorgeous presentation.

Making Turkey Gravy for your Turkey Breast

With this roast turkey recipe you will have plenty of turkey drippings left over in the pan. Don’t let them go to waste… make a batch of sweet and savory turkey gravy! Simply pour the drippings in a sauce pan and add 2 tablespoons of flour 2 tablespoons of butter or oil to the drippings. Stir until flour is golden. Add enough liquid to make gravy (about 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock).

Then all you’ve got to do is simply toss together some mashed potatoes and a vegetable or salad, and you’ve got simple, delicious, and impressive meal for company or a special Sunday meal for the family.


Think this sounds tasty? Well, the best Roast Turkey Recipe in the universe can be found at Divine Dinner Party.

About me: Because she’s nuts for food, Karen Talavera writes all of Divine Dinner Party’s Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com