25 Ways To Update Thanksgiving

Leah Bourne
25 Ways To Update Thanksgiving
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Has Thanksgiving become more of a chore for you than a fun way to celebrate with family and friends? Do you dread the same old turkey with the same old conversation? Wanting to take a step back from the status quo where Thanksgiving is concerned we brainstormed 25 ways to update your Thanksgiving this year—everything from making a truffle infused turkey, to getting all of your guests to dress up this year.
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Looking to add a jolt of newness to your Thanksgiving this year? Here are 25 ideas on how to update everyone's favorite food holiday.

1. Make a Cajun Turkey

Looking to put a new spin on your tired old Thanskgiving turkey? Why not make it Cajun style. No surprise here, Emeril Lagasse has a great recipe that calls for you to inject your turkey with a cajun-spiced marinade. Is your mouth watering yet?

2. Create a Thanksgiving Themed Dessert Bar

We are a big proponent of moving dessert to another room after you have finished your gigantic Thanksgiving meal. There is no better way to get everyone from your nieces and nephews to your Aunt Martha to get up and go somewhere else than by pre-setting up a dessert bar. Your guests can then relax, mingle, and eat pie and other goodies at their leisure post-dinner. 

3. DIY Potatoes 

Looking to inject a little bit of fun into one of your Thanksgiving sides? Why not create a DIY potato station with topppings ranging from bacon to chives? We guarantee that it will be the hit of your dinner. 

4. Have a Signature Cocktail

Add a little bit of flair to your Thanksgiving meal this year with a signature cocktail. We are loving the Comfort Me Pears cocktail, which we think would work perfectly with your fall-themed Thanksgiving menu. 

5. Make Cornish Hens Instead of Turkey

Tired of turkey in general? Opt for a cornish hen instead. Infused with lemon, rosemary, and garlic broth, your creative spin on the traditional Thanksgiving meal will definitely have your guests talking. Bonus: it doesn't take as long to cook as a turkey. 

6. Have a Movie Ready

We've all had a Thanskgivings like this: after dinner all of your family and friends are sitting around wondering what to do next? Pre-plan for this lull in activity with a movie night already set up in your living room. Choose a movie that you know will be a crowd-pleaser with all ages. Editor's note: you can never go wrong with a classic like A Christmas Story.

7. Think About Wine Pairings 

The wine that you drink on Thanksgiving will make a huge difference. Make sure to have a great red and a great white on hand. Feeling overwhelmed? Pinot Noir goes great with turkey. For more tips take advice from the wine guru behind Astor Wines & Spirits.

8. Create a Black and White Tablescape 

Looking to instill a little elegance into your Thanksgiving meal this year? Why not opt for black and white tabletop decor and lots of candles. Thanksgiving will never have looked so chic.

9. Volunteer At a Soup Kitchen 

Feeling overwhelmed by how lucky you are this Thanksgiving? Take a break from your annual Thanksgiving dinner and volunteer at a soup kitchen this year instead. Search dosomething.org for soup kitchens in your area that might need your help. Also, keep in mind that there tend to be tons of volunteers during Thanksgiving, but volunteers can be scarce in the days and weeks following the holiday, so you might want to volunteer your time on more than one day. 

10. Do As Julia Child Would

Whenever we have a cooking conundrum (and it happens a lot) we seek out the advice of Julia Child via her cookbooks. This Thanksgiving, make it a Julia Child's Thanksgiving all around. Follow her advice on how to roast a turkey for peak flavor, how to make soup in a pumpkin, and how to make the perfect gravy. Trust us, your guests will thank you. 

11. Go High-Tech For Help

With so many apps available to help with Thanksgiving planning, we say get to downloading! One of our favorites is Bon Appétit's free app which includes tons of recipes, how tos, and calendars so you can be sure to stay on track. Another favorite is iFeast, which allows you synchronize your meal prep work and cook times with your family so that everything makes it to the table hot and delicious.

12. Create Centerpieces With Wildflowers

This Thanksgiving we are seriously digging wildflowers to use as the touchtone for our centerpieces. Fill mason jars with wildflowers, and load up your table with tea lights to create the perfect ambience. Voila. 

13. Skip Fatty Desserts and Make Baked Apples

After a very hearty Thanksgiving meal, you might want to think about forgoing pie this year (we know, gasp) and just serving baked apples to your guests. They and their wastlines will probably thank you later, plus the apples will offer just the right amount of sweet to finish off the meal. One of our favorite easy to create recipes includes raisins, pecans, and brown sugar.



14. Hire a Chef

So you don't want to cook this Thanksgiving, but you do want a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal? Why not hire a chef for the night? You don't have to pay A-list rates for a chef either. Head over to Taskrabbit.com to look for a chef in your area. You might even end up spending less money than going out to eat. 

15. Take the Year Off and Go Out To Eat

This year you might just want a complete change of scenery, and going out to eat might just be the answer. Call around to some of your favorite restaurants and ask to hear about their Thanskgiving menu (which will oftentimes be prix-fixe). You can go back to cooking next year.

Photo: Underwood & Underwood

16. Have Everyone Dress Up

Looking to inject a little bit of fun (and a ton of memories) into you Thanksgiving? Have everyone come dressed up as pilgrims and Indians. At the very least you'll know that your dinner conversation won't be boring and it will make for some great photos.

17. Go Vegan

It can seem daunting to go vegan on Thanksgiving (after all, isn't the holiday all about turkey?) but you'll be surprised and maybe even inpsired by all of the amazing vegan thanksgiving recipes out there. Head over to vegkitchen.com for some great tips on making this foodie holiday vegan friendly. 

18. Opt For a Thanksgiving Pot Luck

Scream this from the rooftop if you have to: it is not your responsibility to make the entire Thanksgiving dinner yourself. Why not have a pot-luck Thanksgiving this year with each guest bringing something for the dinner. Just remember to divvy up mains, sides, and dessert, to ensure the right mix of food.

Create a Farm-To-Table Thanksgiving 

Thanksgiving at its best is all about fresh ingredients. Get inspired by that idea by creating a farm-to-table Thanksgiving meal. In other words, think local when it comes to buying your turkey, vegetables, and even wine.

Photo: John Kernick/John Kernick

Make Centerpieces Using Photographs 

Worried the Thanksgiving conversation will be on the dull side? Create centerpieces using family photos to get the conversation going.

Buy Everything (No One Has To Know)

Do you really need to slave away in the kitchen making homeade cranberry sauce and gravy? The answer is absolutley not. Do a little research to find the best places to buy your various sides, pies, and garnishes, and you'll save yourself a ton of time in the process. And really, no one will notice the difference. 

Actually Make a Plan

You probably say this every year but never actually do it: "I'm going to be organized this year during Thanksgiving." This year, actually make that plan you have been talking about for years and years. Think about what you can do a week before Thanksgiving, the foods you can cook a couple of days out, and what you actually need to do day of. Because you'll be less frazzled, you might actually get to enjoy the holiday for once.

Make Your Turkey With Truffle Butter

When in doubt on Thanksgiving, we say add truffle anything. One of our favorite ways to use truffles during the holiday is actually with the turkey. So we say why not try to roast your turkey with black-truffle butter and white-wine gravy? Yes, it really is as good as it sounds.

24. Pair Your Thanksgiving With Beer

Instead of wine this Thanksgiving, why not opt for craft beer to go with your meal? Head over to our friends at craftbeer.com for some expert tips on how to pair beer with your Thanksgiving feast. 

25. Give Everyone a Leftover Sandwich As a Parting Gift

Let's face it, the best part of any Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers. Instead of sending everyone on their marry way with a little bit of turkey, stuffing, and brusssels sprouts in tin foil, whip up everyone a leftover sandwich to-go as their takeaway gift. One of our favorite combinations includes turkey, cranberry, cheddar, and arugula. 

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