Why not spice up this year's Thanksgiving dinner with a party theme befitting a king, or I mean Pilgrim. It's fun to drum up some turkey day decorations to get everybody in a thankful mood. Try the ideas below to bring a bit of amusement to a family day rich with tradition, but often lacking in jest.
Usually the first thing guests notice is a beautifully decorated dining table. This year set your table with a whimsical touch. A plain cotton tablecloth in a fall color like orange or cranberry is the beginning. White plates are a nice contrast to the dark linen, but if you don't have white, use whatever dishes you have. A smaller plate should sit atop the dinner plate and there is no need to match. In fact, contrasting color looks good (as long as there's no pattern.) Place a linen napkin, preferably in a dark color, rolled up and tied with raffia, on the small plate. Complete the setting with silverware and glassware.
Now comes the fun part – Pilgrim place cards. To make these, start with a 5-by-4-inch rectangle cut from white card stock. Fold each in half so that the 4-inch edges meet. Reopen the card and draw a Pilgrim hat with the top above the fold and the brim just below it. Do this to all of your place cards. Next, paint your thumb with skin-toned tempura paint and print a Pilgrim's head below each hat. (This can also be done by a child.) When the paint is dry, use markers to color in the hats, draw on big collars and add specific facial features and hairdos (curly hair, straight hair, black or blonde hair, freckles, blue or brown eyes, you get the idea) that resemble the family and friends coming to the dinner. Print each guest's name on the card and decorate each hat with a gold glitter glue buckle. Cut along the outer edge of each hat top but not around the brim. Then refold the cards, carefully pulling up the hat tops to stand upright and you're ready to place them on the table.
Finish the table by placing small pumpkins that have been painted to match the colors of your table settings. For example, white and cranberry stripes, green and gold polka dots, or for a touch of sparkle, use gold or silver glitter paint in stripes or squiggles. In the center of the table, place a Pilgrim hat centerpiece. Put the hat upside down on your table and fill it with potted mums or other fall flowers in red, yellow and orange tones. Add plenty of greenery to completely fill the hat. You can purchase a Pilgrim hat at a costume or party store or make one yourself. To make one, cover a medium sized (approximately 7 inches tall) terra-cotta pot with black felt. You can do this by rolling your pot along a large piece of felt and tracing the path it makes. Next, cut two 15-inch circles, one from black poster board, the other from black felt. Place the pot upside down on the poster board circle and trace around its rim. Cut out an inner circle so you have a large ring. Do the same with the felt circle then glue it on to the poster board ring. Turn the pot over and slide the brim up to the rim of the pot. For the finishing touch, tape on a buckle cut from yellow poster board.
When everyone's finished eating, but still gathered around the table, play a storytelling game guaranteed to invoke volumes of literary laughs. The object of the game is to make up a silly story together, one word at a time. One person is deemed the transcriber and given paper and pencil to write each word down as it is said. One guest starts the story and since it is a Pilgrim theme, begins with, “Once upon a time there was a Pilgrim…” Proceed around the table and have each guest volunteer one word. It can be any word they want. The game continues until everyone agrees that it's done. The transcriber then uses his or her best reading voice and reads the story. (Note: choose a transcriber you know will us a lot of emotion and enthusiasm.) Remember, the more absurd the story, the funnier it is. Be clever in your word selection and be sure to include punctuation if you think it's necessary. This is a holiday tradition that can be done every year by simply changing your first sentence to fit your party theme.
After dessert, if weather permits, invite everyone on a “pilgrimage” – a stroll around the neighborhood. It's great to walk around after a big meal. And bring a few small baskets for collecting leaves, pinecones, acorns and other pieces of nature that you or your children might want to use for decorations around the house or an art project.
Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a dull holiday, liven it up with a Pilgrim theme and all your guests will be right at home.