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Archive for the 'Thanksgiving' Category

1 DAY until Thanksgiving: Entertain the kids

KN HOLIDAYSURVIVAL KCOK, show of hands: How many of us hated sitting at the kids’ table at holiday meals? At my grandparent’s house, eating at the kids’ table meant getting bumped to the kitchen and eating off a table with no table cloth or fine china.

Fortunately, with a little imagination and creativity, you can turn the kids’ table into the fun table. Here are a few tricks: Use white butcher block paper instead of a table cloth and give each child a cup of crayons. Then let them color in between bites. Create a game-and-puzzle placemat, similar to what you might find at a family restaurant. Include word finds, mazes, and riddles that are Thanksgiving related. Let the children make pilgrim hats. (You can find step-by-step instructions at Glue leaves on a paper lunch bag. Fill the bag with inexpensive treats or toys and set one above each child’s plate. When all of the children have finished eating and cleared their dishes, let them open their bags. And most of all, ask the kids what they want. In our house, giving them their own pie, ditching the slicing and letting them just dig in with spoons actually has a few of the adults wanting to be at the kids’ table, too. (For more Thanksgiving ideas, see our Home & Garden section.)

Posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
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2 DAYS until Thanksgiving: Time to set table

LLIFE HDY-TABLEDECOR 1 FTGrowing up, the dining room was always off limits 48 hours before Thanksgiving. That’s because my mother needed time to turn our table into something that looked as if it had jumped off the pages of “Better Homes & Garden.” She took table setting very seriously, right down to pulling out an illustrated table chart that showed exactly where every plate, bowl, glass and utensil belonged.

The first must-know in table setting is the basics (American-style): n Plates go 1 inch from the edge of the table. Flatware is lined up with the bottom of the plates: fork on the left; knife, with the blade turned toward the plate, and spoon go on the right. Bread-and-butter plates are set above the forks with the butter knife laid across it. If these are not used, the salad plates go here; otherwise they belong left of the forks. Flatware is arranged with the pieces used first on the outside. So, a salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork. The exception is the dessert silverware, which goes above the plate. The water glass sits at the tip of the knife, with the wine or beverage glass to the right of the water glass. Coffee cups and saucers are placed to the right of the spoon or brought out with dessert. Napkins sit in the center of each plate, are tucked in wine glasses or are placed to the left of the fork.

But knowing where everything goes is only part of what is involved in setting the table for Thanksgiving. Now it’s time to give it a little style…

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Posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
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COUNTDOWN to Thanksgiving: 3 More Days!

Village People (Family Fun Magazine)We’ve always been big fans of Family Fun Magazine and its crafts, and these “Village People” look like the perfect children’s table activity and table decoration all in one. All you need are toilet paper tubes, colored paper, glue and some markers – although we’re dying to try putting our kids in the pilgrim and American Indian roles by printing appropriately sized family photos on lightweight paper, then cutting out the little faces and gluing them in place.

Anyway, here’s how to make these guys: wrap a rectangle of colored paper – a brown shade for the Indians, black for the pilgrims – around each tube, attaching it with glue or double sticky tape. Draw a little face on a 2×3 inch piece of paper and glue it into place. Glue on hair – cut a fringe into one end of a paper rectangle, then roll it around a pen to make it curly. Glue it on!

All that’s left are the embellishments. Your American Indian needs a paper headband and feathers. Your pilgrims could probably use white collars and a bonnet or hat with square buckle. Click here for directions from Family Fun.

Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2008
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4 DAYS until Thanksgiving: Create Old-World feel

carriedavecornoffering08smTraditions rank pretty high for me when it comes to holidays, but not necessarily because of their ties to the past. Carrie Franzwa is the exact opposite. Bored with Thanksgiving, she dug into the roots of the holidays and now would put most of us to shame when it comes to trying to relive an authentic First Thanksgiving experience. Franzwa’s family dress the parts, cook in an outdoor fire pit and even use replicated place settings from 1621. Her expertise, along with how-to instructions for trying this yourself, are part of the book, “The American Patriot’s Treasury of Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas” (Booksurge Publishing, $19.95).

Franzwa also provides tips in an online article for “Thanksgiving Time Travel under $50.” I’m not much for dressing up (Halloween and I aren’t exactly tight anymore) and I could never master cooking over an open flame while camping, but some of Franzwa’s ideas are pretty interesting. In particular, I like the idea of ditching the salt and pepper shakers and trying a communal salt dip — it sounds like a great way to keep the kids entertained. For a closer look at creating Old World table settings, continue reading…

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Posted on Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
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5 DAYS until Thanksgiving: Cool table toppers

FOOD THANKSGIVING 4 CSI confess, while I have part of my mother’s crafty touch, I’m still a relative newcomer in the holiday host department. Christmas I have down pat: tree, lights, garland, wreaths and every conceivable decorating knick knack in between (we even had to build a new storage closet to hold the Christmas decor). When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m essentially a decorating rookie. Aside from a cornucopia, a little garland and an odd knick knack or two, my house still looks stuck in Halloween.

But I’m on tap to host the big turkey dinner, and no way am I leaving the dining room table looking like a neglected afterthought. It’s time to get creative, while sticking with a minimalist approach. After all, most eyes will be on the turkey. So, really all I want is a simple table topper. I accomplished mine for under $10. I took a low-set basket that was kicking around the house, filled it with pine cones and wrapped the handle with wired fall-themed ribbon. It works, and so do these other tricks and tips…

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Posted on Saturday, November 22nd, 2008
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DAY 6: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Pomegranate salsa (Contra Costa Times)It’s six days till Thanksgiving! College kids are flying home, and grade schoolers are celebrating a week – or at least a few days – off from school. So put your young chefs to work on a few delicious side dishes for the Thanksgiving table, courtesy of our readers. This Pomegranate Salsa, concocted by San Ramon mom Lorraine Kalajakis and her sisters, is so easy – and little fingers are the perfect thing to pry all those pomegranate seeds out of the fruit. Just be sure to cover your work surface thoroughly with layers of newspaper and paper towels, so your nice white tiled counters don’t blush. It’s best if a grown-up does the jalapeno dicing – the oils from the hot pepper pack a wallop, especially if accidentally rubbed into the eyes. And Fremont resident Marian Briones’ Maple Ginger Yams are divine, even for non-yam lovers. You’ll find both recipes after the jump!
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Posted on Friday, November 21st, 2008
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7 DAY Countdown to Thanksgiving

Pilgrim Hat (Courtesy is a week away and we’re starting our countdown! For the next seven days, we’ll be bringing you kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes, crafts and activities, starting with these adorable, pilgrim-inspired place cards. We found these on the Better Homes & Gardens web site along with other crafts, games and decorating ideas. And they were delighted to share these little pilgrim hats, both the pics and the directions, with us – and you!

SUPPLIES: Here’s what you’ll need for each “hat.”
A 3-inch terracotta flowerpot (sold at nurseries and craft stores)
Crafting foam – black for the brim and yellow for the buckle
Acrylic paint – black, white and a bright color of your choice
A black fabric paint pen or paint squeeze bottle
Thick white crafts glue, scissors

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Posted on Thursday, November 20th, 2008
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