CELEBRATING THANKSGIVING IN 2021
CELEBRATING THANKSGIVING IN 2020
LET US GIVE THANKS...
LET US GIVE THANKS...
There is always something to be thankful for...
Thanksgiving is a holiday that dates back to a time long before The United States became a nation. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It was not until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
As we enter into the holiday season, so many are experiencing much uncertainty as we begin to wonder what family gatherings are going to look like. It is so important to surround yourself with positivity. Positivity is infectious. When we are surrounded by people, places or things that make us feel safe, we are in a better position to be happy and light-hearted. While reconnecting with family, friends and yourself, be sure to take time to engage in interactions that are positive. This could be as simple as a phone call or text message with someone positive in your life, or even as involved as volunteering in your community in order to bring some positivity into the lives of others.
UNIQUE THANKSGIVING CELEBRATIONS
Thanksgiving celebrations might look a little different this year, but a smaller guest list does not have to mean you have to compromise. Whether you are doing a small dinner at home with your family, a slightly bigger celebration with your social bubble, or hosting a virtual gathering over Zoom, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your holiday favourites on a smaller scale.
With many people spending the holiday away from family and friends due to travel restrictions or safety concerns, and with some annual traditions also put on hold this year, this Thanksgiving is an opportunity to think outside the box. 2020 might even inspire you to throw out your traditional recipe book and try out a completely different menu, as you will have less people to cater for and more time to enjoy the day.
While the ongoing pandemic has cancelled or postponed many events, there are some annual traditions that will still take place, albeit with a new twist. Although we are so used to seeing crowds come together to see the colourful balloons making their way down the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route, this year the celebration will be a bit different. To safely bring the spectacle to millions nationwide this year, the annual production will be reimagined as a television-only event with no audience. This year the procession will forgo marching down the traditional 2.5-mile route in Manhattan in order to avoid large crowds gathering, and instead will be staged in front of the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.
So whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving as a family, or from a distance, our creative and virtual ideas are sure to help you celebrate the day by counting your blessings and expressing gratitude for what you have, now more than ever.
THANKSGIVING IDEAS AND TRADITIONS
Thanksgiving incorporates so many wonderful traditions, with each family celebrating in different ways. And just because the crowd around the table is a little smaller, it doesn’t mean you have to skip out on your annual traditions. Even if some of your nearest and dearest can't make it to your celebration, there are so many ways they can still join in on the festivities.
- For so many people, the best part of Thanksgiving is the joy of cooking together with family and friends. If you live close to family or friends, a fun way to celebrate your Thanksgiving dinner is by organising a meal exchange among a few households. After deciding on a menu together, you can share recipe suggestions with each other. Each household signs up for a dish or two to make in bulk, divvies them up into equal portions, and delivers them to the other households on Thanksgiving morning. Once the drop-off is complete, everyone can enjoy their meals together on a video call.
Alternatively, if you can’t all be in the same kitchen this year, another option is for each household to prepare the same batch of recipes. That way you can experience the same meal over a long-distance video chat. Once you agree on a menu, you can add all of your recipe links to a shared document. You can also create columns in the document for each household to write comments—whether they are dietary requirements, helpful tips or suggested ingredient variations.
Dining virtually can be a challenge when you are limited to the small screen on your phone or laptop. One way to enhance your viewing experience is by streaming your phone or computer display on your television which can make your far-away family feel a little more life-size.
THANKSGIVING CUISINE IDEAS
One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the food, so why not start the day off in style with a delicious breakfast. A tasty frittata, cinnamon pancakes or pumpkin spice scones will keep you full until the main event. Share pictures with your friends and family to see who cooks the best Thanksgiving brunch.
While the turkey is roasting, set up a cocktail bar so you can make your own Bloody Mary before settling down to watch the parade. Arrange a virtual happy hour or a video call before, after, or even during your meal with those who can't make it to the table, so they will feel like they are there.
Thanksgiving is also the perfect time to reflect on your hopes and goals for the coming year. A day or two before Thanksgiving, gather a few nice branches from outside, cover them with gold, silver, or copper spray paint, and place them in a vase. Then, as your guests arrive, invite each person to write what they are wishing and hoping for on a tag or card that they can hang on the branches you collected.
THANKSGIVING TABLE DÉCOR
Send a guest list around in advance of your dinner and ask everybody to share one thing they love or respect about each other. Compile the thoughts on a place card with each guest's name, so they will sit down to find a heart-warming list of anonymous appreciation.
To keep your guests entertained while you finish whipping up a festive feast, ask them to create a unique centrepiece for the table with fall-hued florals, pint-sized pumpkins, wispy branches, scented pinecones, and a few fallen leaves—or you can send them outside to forage for some seasonal supplies.
A small guest list is no reason to set a run of the mill place setting. From festive tablecloths to fall-appropriate rustic colour palettes, there are so many ways to bring the spirit of Thanksgiving to your table. Pick up a bouquet of fresh florals, add some berry branches and light some candles. For an extra special touch, create your own Thanksgiving place cards to help make your guests feel welcome. A festive table setting or eye-catching centrepiece will make any meal feel special. Check out Pinterest for some stunning tablescape inspiration.
Need something to do while the turkey cooks? Try an arts and crafts project making handmade advent calendars or DIY holiday ornaments.
Whether you are baking with the children or creating a craft, involving kids in the preparation is a great way to celebrate and enjoy family time. Don’t worry if the potatoes have a lump or two or the stuffing is not perfect—the memory-making experience is worth it.
COOKING UP A STORM
One of the best parts of a small Thanksgiving is you don't have to buy a huge turkey that takes an entire day to cook. Consider buying a small turkey breast that you can prepare in a fraction of the time, giving you more time to spend with those around you.
Hide the turkey's wishbone in a secret spot around the house. Once you are finished eating, send the little to search for it. The team that finds the hidden wishbone not only gets to break it, but can also skip the line for dessert!
Before sitting down to eat, set up a cookie decorating station, including freshly-baked sugar cookies in a variety of shapes and sizes, for the little ones to work on after dinner. It is a great way to keep them entertained while you relax a little before starting the clean-up.
Ordering side dishes is far less stressful than preparing an entire Thanksgiving feast. Even if you want to make some dishes yourself, it can be nice to supplement them with a few ready-made options or pre-cooked sides from your local store. You might also consider ordering food from a local restaurant, which is a great way to support businesses that were hit hard by the pandemic.
POST-THANKSGIVING DINNER FUN
Gather together post-dinner for a good-old-fashioned game of charades, or create a new Thanksgiving trivia activity, it is sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit!
By now, we are all pros at hosting virtual parties. Get the entire family together on Zoom and play a card game or share something you are thankful for.
Enjoy the time-honoured tradition of not only toasting your loved ones, but also sharing what you are thankful for. For a twist on the popular tradition, encourage each guest around the table to stand up and make their own Thanksgiving toast reflecting on the past year.
Gratitude isn’t just a concept we should visit over turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. To keep giving thanks even after the holiday is over, place a thank you card and blank envelope at each seat at your Thanksgiving table, and ask everyone to write a note to someone who made a difference in their lives over the past year. Open them on Christmas morning for an extra special and very meaningful gift.
CELEBRATE AND BE SUSTAINABLE
Thanksgiving dinner is the meal that keeps on giving. To avoid waste and throwing out leftover food, send home leftovers and a couple of recipes with your guests. They can enjoy them the following day by turning them into something new, like a turkey club sandwich or waffles made from stuffing and topped with cranberry sauce.
ENJOY THE CRISP FALL WEATHER WITH OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to soak up the last bit of seasonal weather. Head out on a scavenger hunt, it is sure to get the competitive juices flowing!
Want to go the extra mile? Sign up for a local Turkey Trot in the morning or take a scenic walk after eating dinner. To maintain safe social distance, many local and national races will be held virtually, meaning you can run wherever you want to, within a given time frame, and then self-report your results.
Walking together after dinner not only burns off all those turkey calories, but allows you to slow down and savour the moment together—perfect for making room before returning home for dessert.
Thanksgiving is synonymous with football so why not get everybody together for a game of footie before dinner—it is guaranteed to become one of the family's favourite traditions. Take it to the next level by turning it into the Thanksgiving Olympics and giving out mini prizes at the end.
SIT BY THE FIRE WITH FAMILY OR FRIENDS
The best way to unwind on Thanksgiving is with a cosy Christmas movie. Build a pillow fort, pop some popcorn (or heat up some leftovers), and snuggle in to watch a festive film. Pick the same movie every year, or have fun letting a different family member choose the film each time.
Instead of fighting your food coma with lots of screen time—from binging on Netflix to mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed—ask your older relatives to share a few of their favourite family stories and traditions.
Talk about why Thanksgiving is celebrated. Connect your celebration to the original story of the fall harvest gathering that brought together Native Americans and Pilgrims for a feast.
Holidays are full of great traditions that tend to bring a smile to our face as we scroll through old family gathering photos. Some of the best stories happen when families engage in time-honoured traditions and begin to pass those traditions down to younger generations. Maybe it is teaching someone a secret family recipe, fussing over which football game to watch, or picking the perfect Christmas tree to cut down.
Tension and stress are often a part of family get-togethers. Vow to put aside differences on Thanksgiving and focus on the aspects of your family for which you are grateful. While easier said than done, this provides an excellent model for children as they learn about relationships and family.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of sharing and abundance. Talk to children about where all of the delicious food comes from and how it was prepared. Everyone can share what their favourite food is and why. Develop a tradition of sharing with those who have less and involve children in contributing to a food shelter or other charities. This can help children to be thankful for what they have and learn the importance of helping others.
This Thanksgiving is especially poignant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people have lost loved ones or are experiencing financial hardships. Consider donating money to an organisation or charity that is meaningful to you. Thanksgiving is also a very busy time for food banks and a very popular time to volunteer. During the pandemic, food banks and shelters are taking extra precautions to keep volunteers and visitors safe. This may mean that they need many more hands to help out. Check with your local food bank to see where they need help, bundle up and bring the whole family.
It is so easy to forget to capture the moment so why not take a photo to commemorate the occasion. For the ultimate group shot, surprise your guests with some holiday-themed accessories and gather around for the ultimate group shot.
If you live in a warmer climate, consider taking advantage of the nice weather by throwing an outdoor party. It is easier for multiple families to gather at a safe distance outside, whether it is a park or your own backyard. A potluck with a designated food station allows each household to take turns dishing up their plates. Alternatively, you can portion the food in advance in separate containers and distribute it at the gathering.
This year, your loved ones might be scattered across the country. But just because you are physically separated does not mean you can't make their day special. Send custom gift bags or pre-packaged goodies to show your love. If you have done your fair share of stress baking during the pandemic, shipping some of those calories to family and friends is a great way to show them you are thinking of them.
SAVE SOME ROOM FOR DESSERT...
Of course, a Thanksgiving meal is never complete without dessert! With pumpkins, apples, and cranberries in abundance to celebrate the harvest, there are numerous options to satisfy your sweet tooth. Synonymous with Thanksgiving, homemade pumpkin pie is the perfect way to finish off your holiday feast.
For an authentic Irish twist on a Thanksgiving classic, check out our decadent recipe for an Irish Cream Pumpkin Pie. We are counting the days down until we can get baking!
• 750g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded
and cut into chunks
• 350g sweet shortcrust pastry
• Plain flour, for dusting
• 140g caster sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 25g butter, melted
• 175ml milk
• 80ml Baileys Original Irish Cream
• 1 tbsp icing sugar
• 50ml whipped cream
• 100g pecan nuts
Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain the pumpkin and let cool.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter, milk and Baileys Cream, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Spread the pecans and some whipped cream on top for the perfect finishing touch!
Family, gratitude, and thankfulness are the true elements associated with the meaning of Thanksgiving. It is such a special holiday. It is a rare occasion when we get to slow down, take time out and focus on spending time with the ones we love.
From our home to yours, however you spend your day, we wish you a safe, healthy, and delicious Thanksgiving with your family and friends. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to be truly grateful for all the love and life around us. Let’s make this the best one yet!