While Christmas is just around the corner, across the pond Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November every year.
The celebration originated as a harvest festival, when people would come together to eat and give thanks for the successful harvest of the preceding year. While much has changed, the modern-day celebrations still echo the sentiment of taking time to be grateful for what is good in your life – something we should all remember to do.
So no matter your background, we could all adopt the idea of a Thanksgiving celebration. Whether you choose to do it alongside the Americans on Thursday November 24 (or perhaps the following weekend as it’s not a national holiday here), or whenever you get the chance to get your family and friends together, here are some ideas to make a Thanksgiving celebration to be grateful for.
1. Get everyone involved
Hosting a dinner party can be stressful, and if you burn the food or cut your finger while slicing the onions, you’ll be left feeling like there’s little to be thankful for.
Instead, ask your guests to bring their favourite dish. Make sure you delegate starters, mains and desserts so you don’t just end up with a lot of cake (well, unless that’s what you’re aiming for, or course), and then lay it all out on a buffet table so people can delve in and try new things.
If this is too ‘mix and match’ for your tastes, set a cuisine theme – American is the obvious one, or go for one that you know is popular among your guests.
Another option is to do as the Americans do and roast a turkey, then ask your guests to bring along sides and dessert.
2. Embrace the theme
You could go all out with a red, white and blue theme, but we recommend keeping it classy with a few subtle nods towards the harvest roots of thanksgiving.
Think oranges, reds and browns, perhaps creating a table centrepiece using pinecones, chestnuts and cranberries. Get your Christmas fairy lights out early and light some candles to create a warm and cosy atmosphere.
3. Make giving thanks fun
Traditionally, Americans go around the table and take turns saying what they are thankful for. If you’re a bit too, well, British for all that, ask your guests to write down five (or more or less depending on how many of you there are!) things that have happened in the past year that they are grateful for on separate pieces of paper. The things should be personal to them, but not include specific information, such as names.
Put all the pieces of paper in a bowl and take turns to pick one out and read it aloud. The guests can then try to guess who wrote each one.
4. Reminisce over the good times
As you would for a Secret Santa, draw your guests’ names out of a hat in advance of your party and assign each person with another guest’s name. Ask everyone to bring something to the party that reminds them of their chosen person. It can be a photograph, a gift, or something that represents a good memory.
You can then take some time before or after dinner to take turns sharing the stories about your fellow guests.
5. Watch a feel-good film
After dinner, draw the curtains, pop some popcorn, lay out a load of cushions and put on a film.
A Disney or Pixar film would make a great choice for a mix of age ranges, or you could pick a film with an important moral story, such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Groundhog Day, The Bucket List or Pay It Forward.
6. Avoid the inevitable arguments
When families get together, personalities can clash and arguments ensue. The number one argument among most families? Who does the washing up.
You can bypass this barney, however, by investing in a Hotpoint dishwasher. Use this in combination with Fairy Platinum Diswasher tablets, and they’ll not only clean your dishes first time, but will keep your dishwasher in tip-top condition too. You can’t argue with that.
Do you have any tips for hosting Thanksgiving celebrations? Let us know in the comments section below.