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A Casual, Un-Perfect Thanksgiving

Mary is Giving Up On Perfect this thanksgiving, and so am I!

I am hosting thanksgiving this year.  I’ve been in a very simple, take- it- easy kind of mood lately, and I am approaching Thanksgiving in the same kind of way.  I’m making plans, but not becoming a perfectionist about it.  I do not want to get pre-occupied with all the preparation and details, then the meaning of it all becomes an after- thought.  Really, it is a precious time to be together as a family and acknowledge the many blessing we have and thank our great God for His goodness.

Here are some of the ways I am planning on making it simple:

Paper Plates

I’ve used paper plates in the past, and looking back at thanksgiving pictures,(above) it really is possible to create a nice table, even using paper plates.  I found the plates in the above picture on sale, they helped give color to the table. I set them on top of some silver chargers, rolled up paper napkins and made a pretty decent table. This year, I am going even more simple and casual.  We will be using disposable cups and utensils.  I rarely use disposable products, but sometimes it just has to be done.  I do not want to spend time washing dishes when my family is over, plus I do not have enough glasses and utensils for 15 people, so I really don’t have much choice.   I had a hard time finding disposable plates that were not cheesey or covered with picture of a turkey.  Maybe its just me, but I don’t want to lift a bite of turkey up to my mouth, look down, and discover I’ve uncovered part of the plate where the turkey is looking up at me as I eat him.  Appetite killer, for sure!:)

I am so happy I discovered the Solo Bare paper product line.  It caught my eye among all the paper plates with the typical patterns, flowers and bright, very un-fall colors. The color of the bare plates were so tasteful, warm, simple, boring and in my opinion, perfect.  Any type of napkin would match, and I quickly found (at Target) some printed fall napkins that will add color to the table. The bare cups are just plain and clear, so much better than bright yellow, red or blue!  I plan on making a cranberry punch so the cups will show off the beautiful color of the punch.  I am also keeping the eating utensils clear, since they are not that attractive I don’t want to draw attention to them, clear will disappear.
I have yet to mention the best features of the bare line,  they are renewable, compostable and recyclable!

Easy Beverages-
For the main beverage during dinner, I am making a simple Sparkling Cranberry Punch.  All you do is put equal portions of cranberry juice cocktail and sprite, then mix.   There are different types of bottled juice, you could do cranberry-raspberry cocktail, cranberry-grape cocktail, whatever.  Pour over ice.  So easy!
The rest of the day while we are hanging out and playing games, I will have soda and some Hot Apple Cider warming in a Crock-pot, ready for guest to help themselves.  Click Here for the Recipe.

Guests Bring a Dish
My family is great about everyone pitching in and bringing a dish.  My oldest sister, Julie, is a great cook.  I told her to bring whatever, and to let me know ahead of time what she was going to bring.   I am so lucky to have her as my sis, here is one reason why…check out this list of food she is bringing!!
Aunt Fannie’s Squash Casserole (we don’t have an Aunt Fannie, but I’m sure it is a great recipe!:))
Cranberry Meatball Appetizer
Jalepeno Popper Dip
Pumpkin Pie
Cherry Pie
Isn’t she great?  Don’t you wish she was YOUR sister?
My other sis is paying the Turkey, bringing Pop and Peanut Butter Pie. Yum. She rocks, too.  How generous to pay for the bird!
I have another sis who is bringing Stuffing and Broccoli Casserole.  Broccoli Casserole!! Oh how I love that stuff.  I could put my face in it right about now.  My baby sis is so great, that just bringing her cute self and her husband would be enough, but her cute self plus stuffing and casserole?  Oooh…its gonna be a good day!
My mommy always bring some kind of delish quick bread and is famous for her Cranberry Orange Muffins.  I try not to let her bring much, because she always comes early and peels the Potatoes, carves the Turkey, makes the Gravy and helps me with the last minute details.  I’m spoiled.
Not much left for me, huh?
I have some of this Harry and David Cranberry Relish Dip that I will serve over a block of cream
cheese w/ crackers to dip.  I will also make Rolls & Butta, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Corn Casserole, Velveeta Shells and Cheese (its for the kids, so why make it from scratch this time when Velvetta makes them smile?) some type of Jello Salad and some type of Chocolate Dessert.

Final Menu:
Cranberry Relish Dip W/ Crackers
Jalepeno Popper Dip
Sausage Appetizer Balls
Cranberry Meatballs
Main Meal
Turkey, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Squash Casserole, Broccoli Casserole, Corn Casserole, Mac n Cheese, Rolls, Jello Salad
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Pumpkin Pie
Cherry Pie
Peanut Butter Pie
Somethin’ Chocolate
Sparkling Cranberry Punch
Hot Apple Cider
Wow-ie!  I’m ready to EAT! (as you can see, healthy eating in this family goes right out the window on a holiday, otherwise, it just would not feel like a holiday!!)

Buffet Style

No passing the turkey around here!  I like the table without the clutter of food, and it is just easier for everyone to help themselves.  The kitchen becomes our buffet.  I have counter space and a glass table, which is plenty of room to hold all the food. We start with prayer, then the mom’s help the kids get their food, then its our turn!  It  is so smooth, and you don’t get interrupted while you eat with “please pass the…”

Casual Clothes
I am going to encourage my family to come comfotable and cozy.  Fuzzy socks are welcome!  I don’t want added pressure to have my girls all dressed to kill, just so they can stain their nice clothes with Sparkling Cranberry Punch. They will look decent, but I am so NOT about to go out and buy special outfits just for one day.  Looking perfect is not what the day is about, my kids don’t need to look like a gap commercial.  Its about being thankful for what we have, not spending money on things we really do not need

Simple Decor

I have a lot of fall decorations, (remember this post?). For my table decor, I am simply going to grab from what I have.  Maybe these brown paper pumpkins from my sunroom windowsill, a few fake leaves sprinkled about and some candles.  My plates have an earthy, organic feel, so these would keep with that theme.
The kid table is always fun.  I love to get on and get new ideas.  I used these cute ice cream cone cornucopias a couple years back.

The kids just loved them!  This year, my girls have made little toilet paper roll people.  They so very cute!  I will label them with the kids names, and set them on their plate so they know where to sit.  I thought about doing the same for the adults, but they are smart enough to know they are made from toilet paper rolls, which may be another appetite killer!

“Good Enough” House Cleaning
My house will be picked up and clean enough.  NOT carpets steam cleaned, windows washed, tile grout scrubbed, floors hand cleaned, “perfect” clean!!  Just toilets cleaned, sinks wiped, rooms vacuumed in the middles, quick dust, quick sweep, quick mop, “no- sweat” kinda clean!!  There will 15 people here, so the floors will be un-perfect within minutes, and we are not eating off the carpets so they don’t need to be steamed!  Nobody’s perfect, why try to fool each other into thinking we are?  Especially family, who knows we are DEFINITELY not!:)

Easy Fun
It doesn’t take much for my family to have fun and entertain ourselves. All it took one year was a camera and each individual willing to make a turkey out of themselves by making a crazy face for an individual portrait.
Some years I will have an organized craft for the kids to do, and  sometimes I have lots of game ideas.  This year, I’m not really going to plan anything.  We have a ton of board games, we will have our annual 1,000 piece Christmas puzzle sitting out to be worked on, and we can just sit and enjoy each other.
We may have to pull out the turkey feather game.  The kids love it, because they get to play it with adults and see adults act like dorks,  and adults love it because we get to watch the kids excitement, and join in on the fun.
 How to play:  You’ll need  a turkey feather (any feather) and everyone in the same room.  Send the “finder” out of the room to count to 30.  When they are gone, hide the feather somewhere in the room.  When the ‘finder’ comes back in, help them find it by saying hot or cold.  Or, you can take it up a notch like we do, and make very annoying beeping sounds as a group, getting louder and faster as the finder gets closer, and slower and quieter when they turn away from where it is located.  It’s quite funny! (at least we think so, but remember, it doesn’t take much…)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Well there you have it, my Casual Thanksgiving plan. I so look forward to seeing my un-perfect family in my un-perfect house, hanging out in our fuzzy socks drinking hot apple cider, beeping annoyingly in a chorus for the hide-the-feather game, and just simply being… thankful!

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  • Amy@NewNostalgia
    December 1, 2009 at 6:20 am

    thanks for all the comments everyone!
    Jules, you are welcome. The day was a group effort, everyone (especially you) cooking and helping.
    I loved it. Can you believe we didn’t do a fuzzy sock picture? Crap.

  • julier2120
    November 27, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Oh, and we forgot to take a fuzzy sock picture 😉

  • julier2120
    November 27, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    wanted to thank you for yesterday…. it was so special and relaxing and drama free PRAISE JESUS!! You have def created a warm inviting atmosphere and it was a wonderful day.
    Your table was fantastically set… beautiful!! and I have to say the best part of the whole day. I LOVED chilling and eating and reading our “thankful” notes. BEAUTIFUL touches that made the day special.
    Thanks for the effort you put into the day ( although you blogged it was simple 🙂 sure didn’t seem simple!)
    Love you!

  • Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect
    November 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for linking up to my carnival on Friday!

    Your plans look smart to me. My family is definitely a potluck and paper plates group, too!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Lynn
    November 23, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    What a great post. “Good enough housecleaning” — you’re speaking my language, girl! I love the ice cream cone cornucopias, too. What a cute, cute idea. I’ll bet the kids just love ’em.

  • Amy@NewNostalgia
    November 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks, Jenni. These are steps I personally have to take to keep the focus on family and thankfulness.

    Meghan-I love Martha! I love how simple her style is, so it makes sense she would feature the bare products! I bet I have that recorded on my tvo somewhere! I am a bit behind on my shows…been busy blogging!:)

  • Amy@NewNostalgia
    November 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Here is a link to one at Just search 3 tier pie rack if you want to see more styles. This one is nice, basic and great price! I am hoping they will have free shipping the month of dec!!

  • Anonymous
    November 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Do you know where you got the 3 tiered plate holder that you used for pies in the photo above? I’ve been looking for one to use with my Fiestaware plates–it looks like this might work. Thanks!! J

  • Meghan
    November 21, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Martha featured the Bare plates on her show a few months ago. You’ll have to let us know how they work out.

  • Jenni
    November 21, 2009 at 3:51 am

    you rock. Thanks for being so down to earth. we all need a little more of that.

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