When it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving dinner party, there’s no such thing as too early. Hence, more often than not, most hosts would love to get a head start right after Halloween. However, random events can sneak up on you or more commonly, many of us procrastinate. Before you know it, Thanksgiving is just days away.
Freaking out yet? Don’t be. Fortunately, there are many last-minute Thanksgiving ideas that can help homeowners host the perfect holiday celebration. I picked six of the easiest, yet most creative Thanksgiving recipes and decorations. You can definitely pull them off even if it’s just days before Thanksgiving.
Let Fruit Turkey be the Superstar this Year
Just because roast turkey is the signature Thanksgiving dish, that doesn’t mean everyone enjoys eating it. Besides, given that more and more people are turning to a vegan diet, it’s better to prepare a few alternatives. This way, all your guests will feel appreciated.
An edible fruit turkey will be an appropriate choice. For one, it resembles the turkey, the symbol of Thanksgiving. Most importantly, unlike roast turkey that usually takes two days to get ready, a fruit kabob turkey is rather simple to make. All you need is a honeydew melon, grapes, cherry tomatoes, several cubed cheese or marshmallows and skewers.
In less than 30 minutes, you can create a fun and edible centerpiece that will surely please everyone, including vegetarians and kids.
Jazz Up Store-bought Food
Let’s face it. You can't make every dish yourself when time is tight. So why not save yourself time with a few store-bought dishes? Yes, you may be worried that store-bought food will disappoint your guests due to the lack in flavor. However, there are always tricks that can make these premade products taste even better than homemade. Below are a few tips I find very useful:
Mashing potatoes is not difficult, but it does take time. If you’re hosting a large gathering, you’ll want to eliminate the last-minute hassle of whipping potatoes. Believe it or not, boxed or frozen mashed potatoes can be heavenly good, as long as you:
- Spice up the instant mashed potatoes by stirring in some sour cream and chives.
- Depending on your preference, you can choose whether or not to add crispy bacon bits.
- Brush the top with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Put it into the oven and broil until the surface turns golden.
- Garnish it with fresh chopped herbs.
To save a few calories and stay healthy, your guests definitely need some green on their plate and there’s no better choice than French green beans.
- Buy a bag of frozen French green beans and simply heat them in the microwave before dinner starts.
- Add a slight glaze to the dish with a drizzle of olive oil or butter. (I prefer butter just because it smells so great that it will entice guests to eat more.)
- Finally, dress them up with your choice of shredded Parmesan cheese, toasted and sliced almonds, crispy onions or garlic breadcrumbs you can easily get from your local supermarket.
Dinner rolls don’t have to be boring and bland. You can give the store-bought bread a touch of richness by brushing it with a mix of melted butter, garlic powder, garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Then, just heat it up right before serving.
Canned Cranberry Sauce
While some love the texture of canned cranberry jellies, some may hate the artificial flavor. If you fall into the latter, here’s what you can do to make it taste like that it was made from fresh cranberries:
- Heat a can of cranberry sauce to soften it.
- Whisk in some orange zest and a few tablespoons of raspberry preserves.
- Adjust the sweetness and sourness based on your preference.
Speaking of winter desserts, nothing beats the delightful contrast in temperature. Hence, don’t forget to impress your guests with a piece of warm pumpkin pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I guarantee it will be the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving dinner, even if it’s a supermarket-bought pie.
Add A Harvest Centerpiece to Your Table
Of course, tasty treats are not the only highlight on your Thanksgiving table. A nicely, decorated centerpiece can also help add holiday flavor to your table, enhancing your Thanksgiving feast.
The easiest and cheapest way to create a centerpiece is to use what you already have. Here’s an idea inspired by our recent article, Thanksgiving Table Décor Ideas.
Consider reusing your Halloween decorations, such as tiny pumpkins and autumn leaves. By simply assembling them in several tall vases, you can add instant harvest flair to your dining table.
Turn Halloween Pumpkins into Plate Holders
Most don’t know how to deal with giant post-Halloween pumpkins when changing the home décor from Halloween to Thanksgiving. As a result, oftentimes, homeowners end up tossing them into the trash.
What a waste!
In fact, just like the tiny ones, big pumpkins can also be a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. As you can see from the above image, you can turn them into beautiful plate holders without any extra work. Nevertheless, if you have spare time, try personalizing these pumpkin plate holders with a coat of paint. A pop of color will make your dishes look more tempting.
Hang A Meaningful Wreath on the Front Door
The spirit of Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks to your family and friends. Therefore, when I came across this DIY wreath idea from Bubbly Nature, I knew I had to share it with our fans.
Some of you may hesitate to try this DIY craft at the last-minute, but, I’m not suggesting that you make it all by yourself. Instead, it can be a fun family project your kids will love. Just imagine how happy they will be when filling in paper leaves with what they’re grateful this year. On top of that, your guests will certainly feel warm and welcomed when they come knocking on your door and see the meaningful wreath.
Create A Joyful Holiday Wall that Can Last until Christmas
As Thanksgiving is literally around the corner, some may just give up decorating areas other than the dining room. After all, most tend to transform their holiday décor from Thanksgiving to Christmas right after Turkey Day. Hence, it seems a waste of time and money if you invest in decorations that won’t last more than a week.
Well, here’s a brilliant decorating idea you can use throughout the holiday season. Select several plain plates from your pantry and embellish them with joyful messages. Finally, mount these lettered plates on the wall. I highly recommend adding this display in the hallway.
Additionally, remember to go with red plates with white letters, or vice versa. As we all know, red and white are colors that represent the holidays, whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Are you a procrastinator who happens to host Thanksgiving dinner? Don't fret. Even if you always leave everything to the last minute, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pull off a fabulous family celebration. All you need is the right strategy. With these easy tricks, I assure you can host a flawless Thanksgiving dinner that will leave everyone thankful.
Take a look at our Pinterest board for more Thanksgiving decorating ideas.