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Tips for an Easy and Low Key Thanksgiving Dinner

This Thanksgiving, if you're not up to all the fanfare, hassle, and stress associated with a big family meal, complete with a fifteen-pound turkey, mounds of mashed potatoes, piles of stuffing, and enough pumpkin pie to feed an army, you can opt for a toned down turkey day that still feels like a holiday but doesn't entail slaving away in the kitchen for hours on end.  Whether you have to work that morning, you're only expecting a couple of guests, you just had a baby, or have another reason for not wanting to go all-out this Thanksgiving, you can have a low key Thanksgiving that is fun, festive, and full of good times!

Start by planning the menu for your toned down turkey day.  If you're not up to cooking a big bird but still want to enjoy turkey sandwiches the next day, consider purchasing a small turkey breast that can be popped into the over and easily cooked just before you're ready to eat.  This type of turkey doesn't require you to get up with the sun!  Add some premade stuffing and microwave mashed potatoes and you've got a traditional Thanksgiving meal with less than an hour of prep time.  Unless you're Julia Child or trying to impress your future mother-in-law, there's nothing wrong with a Thanksgiving meal that's completely prepackaged!  Or, go in a completely different direction for your holiday meal.  Set up a platter with cold cuts, cheese, and all kinds of sandwich toppings and let everyone build their own sub sandwiches.  Toss some chips into a few plastic bowls and set out some fresh veggies and dip for the health conscious and you've got a satisfying meal everyone will enjoy!  

Just because you're planning a low key Thanksgiving doesn't mean your table can't look good though.  No, you won't need to pull out Grandma's fine china and your best linen tablecloth, but you can still set a festive table with the right Thanksgiving paper goods.  Start with a Thanksgiving harvest tablecloth to set the mood for the holiday.  Then, add some Thanksgiving harvest paper plates and coordinating plasticware to complete your place settings.  Using paper plates and plastic silverware will make clean up a snap when your meal is done, which leaves more time for relaxing and visiting with your guests, but choosing paper goods with a Thanksgiving theme will give your holiday a festive feel to set the mood for the meal.  Top your table off with a fun autumn centerpiece and some Pilgrim taper candlesticks and you'll be ready for your meal, whatever is on the menu! 

Since you won't be spending your day trapped in the kitchen, you'll have more time for fun this Thanksgiving, so plan some activities.  Whether you're expecting guests or just spending the day with immediate family, make the day special with new traditions and a few games that everyone will enjoy!  Let the kids get into the spirit of the holiday by having them draw pictures of the things they are thankful for on white doilies.  When they are done with their masterpieces, you can hang them on the wall or from the ceiling to look like snowflakes, adding to your festive holiday decor.  Engage the adults in a rousing game of dominoes that can last for hours and bring all generations together and set up a game of miniature bowling in the hallway for the kids.  There's no better way to pass an afternoon with the family then playing games together and sharing the laughter! 

It doesn't matter what's on the menu or how many guests you're serving this Thanksgiving, when you decide it's time for a toned down turkey day, stocking up on Thanksgiving paper goods, planning a simple menu, and stocking up on fun games for the whole family to play together will ensure this holiday is one to remember simply because everyone is bound to have a good time. When you're not chained to the kitchen and are able to enjoy your day relaxing with friends and family, you may just decide that a low key Thanksgiving is the way to go every year! 

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