Tag Archives: easy ideas for Thanksgiving

Simple Thanksgiving table setting


It’s very hard for me to do anything simple and modern looking.  It just is.  I love to look at trendy simple things: clothes, home decor, scrapbooking pages, patterns….anything.  And I love it.  But when it comes right down to it, it’s impossible for me to duplicate that look in anything I touch.  It starts out simple, but very soon another element creeps in, an extra detail here or there, some brighter color sneaks in….and soon whatever I’m working on is full right up with all sorts of visual junk!  Yes, I am a messy person, and it usual shows up even in my “designing” (art, decorating, crafting,  junk making, whatever you want to call it).  It’s hard to stop myself.  I know, I know,  I’ve heard: Art is knowing when to stop.  And I agree.  And I guess that’s where the line between crafty and artist is drawn.  All this to say, I felt rather proud of myself for creating (in my mind) a simple modern-looking Thanksgiving table setting this year.  It was excruciatingly hard to hold back and not add more and more, but I forced myself and getting some new simple dishes from Ikea helped (and a time crunch helped, too).

Last year’s Thanksgiving table here was more like what I usually do.  This year I tried a new color scheme, and I must say I liked it.  I just loved the bright colors (that is normal for me) what wasn’t normal was the more simple decorations.simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 008A plain white cake stand, a dried gourd (from Guatemala), a couple of small pumpkins and pomegranates, a few candles, a bunch of purplish carnations and a few green flowers.  Yes, it did involve a shopping trip to IKEA for a few things: new blue dishes, a couple of blue candles, purple table runner, purple juice jug and purple serviettes.  I had lots of orange things already in my stash 🙂  simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 007No time for place-cards this year, just a few plain wooden leaves from Walmart.  I did print out some Thanksgiving things on kraft paper, but we didn’t really use them…..they were to make a thankful paper chain.  We were thankful without the craft.  The rest of the photos were taken under the dining room lighting so the color looks kind of weird….simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 006 simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 003I quickly crammed all the flowers into an orange bowl (and left the other non-color-coordinated flowers in the kitchen).simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 002simple but pretty, I thought.  And yes, that is an old fashioned jello mold!simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 004For that old fashioned, traditional touch.  I enjoyed it, even if few others did!  I had made one awhile ago, from an old recipe, then totally lost the recipe!!  So this was kinda made from my memory: grated carrot, crushed pineapple, orange gelatin (jello), and a cup of plain yogurt.  Does anyone have a recipe like that?  It would be nice to have the exact amounts!simple modern Thanksgiving table setting by dennasideas.com - Page 001My daughter the turkey, I mean, my daughter cooked the turkey this year!  She did a good job, though we had a few nervous moments 😉

There was a kids’ table this year, with a few Snoopy treats…very simple (not like the other Peanuts kids’ table)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 016When the younger kids couldn’t take the wait for supper, we gave them a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal.  It’s what Charlie Brown and Snoopy served in the classic cartoon: buttered toast, pretzels, popcorn and jelly beans!  (It’s starting to be a tradition!)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 015Another food that is now a Thanksgiving tradition around here is Guatemalan enchiladas!  I think this was the day after Thanksgiving, though traditionally they are served on Nov. 1st in Guate.  (It was a short weekend with family, so we had to cram a lot of food into it)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 018 Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.com - Page 017Mmmmm good!!  I’ll have to post the recipe someday…. 🙂   And so that was our little Canadian, American, Guatemalan Thanksgiving!!



Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

Happy Thanksgiving to our American family and friends!  It’s always great to celebrate and give God thanks for all His blessings!

There were a couple of extra Thanksgiving ideas that I forgot to add to my Canadian Thanksgiving post so I thought I’d quickly share them here.  I’m always doing things last minute and I’m wondering if anyone else does it too….so here are some free printables and ideas for some last minute Thanksgiving decor! Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com

These lovely printable pages are from Hope Ink, and I printed them off on kraft colored cardstock.  Here is the cozy house coloring page  and the cute turkey coloring page.  Perfect for Thanksgiving!  I used them for decorating my piano, and then forgot to let the kids color them!  Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comThey would look great colored in with those really nice colored pencils (Prismacolor I think?)

I found another great printable at The Creativity Exchange for a child’s chalkboard place-mat.  This is such a fun idea, to have a black area that can be used as a chalkboard.  I printed out the regular-paper sized one, also on kraft cardstock, so the plate is oval shaped, but if you print out the larger size the plate is round.  My printer’s out of colored ink, so the color you see here isn’t what would print out on your printer! 🙂  Here’s our Menu for today:Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comIt would make a great place setting with your guest’s name written on it in chalk….or just a fun place-mat for the kids to write on!

Oh yes, there’s also the printable that I came up with for my living room frame…you can find the link here.Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!

Some more last minute Thanksgiving decor ideas….use fruit.  Wooden fruit, plastic fruit or real fruit.  I was looking through some old Thanksgiving photos and noticed that that is what I tend to do.  Especially grapes.  Grapes appear adorning a naked turkey (in the family photo), and around jello salad and on plates, cake stands, everywhere!  So that’s my big advice.  Have some grapes on hand, and maybe a few other fruits.  Just in case.  You never know.Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comAnd if you are really running last minute and the turkey isn’t thawed and the pies aren’t baked….Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.comYou can always do what Charlie Brown did……serve them buttered toast, popcorn, jelly beans and pretzels!!!  Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal by dennasideas.com🙂 The idea is to be together and to be grateful.  The rest is all “dressing”!!Last minute Thanksgiving ideas by dennasideas.com

Mini pumpkin pie cheese appetizers

Mini pumpkin pie cheese appetizers

I forgot to post these yummy bites in October….so thought I’d post them in time for our southern neighbor’s Thanksgiving.  Funny thing, I was thinking that this weekend was USA Thanksgiving, but just found out it’s next weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving neighbors!!   But….I just received a flyer in the mailbox yesterday for Black Friday sales…..what’s up with that?  This is Canada….Thanksgiving was in October and we….don’t…..have……black…….friday!!!  I don’t appreciate retailers pushing something like that on us!!!  And that’s my rant for today.  Ahem….denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for Thanksgiving

Back to these bites of cuteness….in my Thanksgiving preparations I came across this mini pumpkin pie idea and couldn’t rest until I had tried making them!!  (Honestly, I spent weeks obsessing about making them, weird, eh?)  I found these precious pieces of “pie” here on SHEKNOWS with a how to.  They were so cute….but I couldn’t find most of the specialty crackers to make them with.  I did find triangle shaped Triscuits, but had to improvise with the rest of them.denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for ThanksgivingI found little pretzel stix in a snacky party mix from the bulk food section at the grocery store for the pie crust edge.  I picked them out and saved them for these appetizers.  The rest is super easy:  Cheddar cheese wedges for the pumkin pie.  Cream cheese (whipped or softened) for the whipped cream, piped out of a plastic baggie with the corner snipped off.  And a triangle Triscuit cracker for the bottom crust.  Assemble with dots of cream cheese to keep everything together.  I found that after I refridgerated them for a few hours the bottom crackers were starting to soften up, so I would suggest assembling these last minute.  They didn’t take long at all…..if you have your crackers in the right size!denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for ThanksgivingI completely skipped putting on a crust at the back….and they still looked fine.  I found that if I used a whole Triscuit, the wedge of pie was quite large….maybe too large for a kid’s appetizer.  So I carefully tried to cut down the Triscuit crackers…..kinda worked, but I was forced to eat up all the ones that just crumbled and cracked up!  (quite a few)  The big ones were reserved for Dad, and the rest of us ate the bite-sized ones.denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for ThanksgivingAnd where does the pumpkin come in, you ask, (all you pumpkin haters out there!) um, it doesn’t.  This is a case of food imitating…well, uh….food!!  I don’t know why so many of us have a fascination for food that disguises itself as some other food, but there it is.  I know I’m not the only one.  And I know there are lots of “haters” out there who find this idea awful and plain wrong.  And that’s ok.  Just beware…..next time you see a slice of pumpkin pie……beware……..beware the food look-a-likes……denna's ideas:  mini pumpkin pie cheese & cracker appetizers for Thanksgiving

DIY Thanksgiving place cards and pumpkin cupcake toppers

DIY Thanksgiving place cards and pumpkin cupcake toppers

I love squirrels!!  The icon that is, I don’t want to pet a real squirrel or anything like that, though I do find them fascinating to watch…anyways, here’s a super cute place card idea for your next fall event or Thanksgiving.  We assembled and used them for Canadian Thanksgiving this year.  Beside our little brown friend is a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing and a little fondant pumpkin topper.  First a word about the pumpkin toppers, then about the friendly picketing squirrels….DIY Squirrel Cookie Place Cards for Thanksgiving or fall by dennasideas.comThe cupcake toppers turned out so cute!  They were really fast and easy to make.  I found the idea and tutorial by Nikki here on Catch My Party.  I just mixed up some marshmallow fondant (melted marshmallows, icing sugar, water and vanilla) and rolled out little balls, scored them with a knife and popped a clove in the top…..that’s all!Thanksgiving pumkin cupcakes with fondant pumkin toppers by dennasideas.comAfter I baked a pumpkin pie, I had a cup of pumpkin puree left, so I made up my traditional pumpkin and cream cheese recipes.  They were easy cupcakes and baked while the pumpkin pie baked, then just added the icing and fondant pumpkins at the last minute before serving.Thanksgiving pumkin cupcakes with fondant pumkin toppers by dennasideas.comSo I found the pumpkin topper idea on Pinterest, but this next idea was my own idea (I have to make a distinction because my kids are always asking if it’s a Pinterest idea or my own idea! heh heh).  Ikea has a cute set of woodland cookie cutters that includes this little squirrel.  A batch of The End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe from Lilaloa was perfect for little brown fall squirrels.  I was in a rush when I was making them, so I don’t have step by step photos.  But it’s easy, just cut out squirrels, and for every squirrel cut out a circle (plain or scalloped) for a base.  Before baking, add a toothpick to each squirrel, sliding it under the head and poking it through the little hand, so it looks like the squirrel is holding the toothpick on his shoulder.  Bake them up, and when they are totally cool, use some melted chocolate candy melts to ice the squirrel to the base.  It’s probably a good idea to add the signs to the toothpicks before “gluing” the squirrel to the base.  You can just tape the place card to the top of the toothpick.  Then it only took a line of melted chocolate on the bottom edge of the squirrel, then a few moments of slight pressure holding it onto the base to assemble.  Here they are, being assembled by my sister….DIY Squirrel Cookie Place Cards for Thanksgiving or fall by dennasideas.comThe squirrels were my idea, but I did see another fun idea on Pinterest that I really wanted to try….chocolate acorns!  I found a great tutorial here on Once Upon a Pedestal for these candy acorns.  They looked so cute!  But I couldn’t find the same kind of peanut M&Ms that she used….and I didn’t have Tootsie Rolls, so I used chocolate covered almonds and brown fondant (another idea to add to my Chocolate Almond Ideas!!).  And I asked my daughters to make them while I was working on Thanksgiving dinner!  (remember, everything’s done last minute around here….)DIY chocolate acorns for Thanksgiving or fall by dennasideas.comThe table settings looked really cute with a cookie squirrel, a chocolate acorn and a fall leaf doily at each place….DIY Squirrel Cookie Place Cards for Thanksgiving or fall by dennasideas.comI used the same set of cookie cutters and same idea to make a stand up chocolate moose, too….kinda hard to see, but he’s in the middle by the cornucopia.Thanksgiving tablescape and place cards by dennasideas.comDIY Squirrel Cookie Place Cards for Thanksgiving or fall by dennasideas.comMr. Squirrel and his friends were a hit!!  But he didn’t stick around very long…..DIY Squirrel Cookie Place Cards for Thanksgiving or fall by dennasideas.comAny squirrels that did linger around too long, and Mac the Moose, were sadly (or more like, deliciously) turned into another dessert with the leftover real whipped cream from the pie….leave overnight in the fridge, and voila!A chocolate cookie and whipped cream sandwich dessert with Thanksgiving leftovers by dennasideas.comWho knew squirrels and moose could taste so wonderful?? 😉

Thanksgiving printable for your fall decor

Thanksgiving printable for your fall decor

Thanksgiving is almost here for us Canadians, are you ready?  I’m still housecleaning and baking like a crazy.  Kind of.  I keep getting distracted by little fun things, like decorating or going through boxes that I haven’t seen for a while.  I saw a list yesterday that said countdown to Thanksgiving, and shows you what to do each week, for 4 weeks before the event!!  Things like start baking, send out invitations, etc.  And it says 4 weeks before: finish major housecleaning!  I figure that if I changed weeks to days, I’d be right on schedule.

Decorating is so much more fun than cleaning and de-cluttering.  I have a frame in my living room that is for changing, with the seasons, or with the birthdays, whatever.  It’s easy to pop out the picture and add something new.  I was looking around for a “free Thanksgiving printable” to print and frame, and I found lots of nice ones, but they were in color.  And even if I switched them to black and white, they’d be all grey and use up tons of ink.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m down to only black ink, so I made up something myself to print out for my frame, and thought I’d post it here, in case anyone else with a black-ink-only printer problem would like to have one for their Thanksgiving decor.  All the fonts I used are by Kimberly Geswein,  I really like her stuff!  Ooh, I just saw some new ones on her blog that I want, nice very nice!  There are links on her blog to download all her fonts, and she has examples, so you can see what the fonts look like in a paragraph form.  The  border is artwork by the Gypsy Chick, that I had for commercial use.  (warning: blurry photos ahead!)Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas! Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!

The printable is for a 8 1/2 by 11″ page, but my frame takes 12×12″, so I printed off 2 and cut one up to go behind the other.  My printer also didn’t print to the edge of the page, so I had to shave some off.  The printable should go to the edge of your page, if you can set your printer to do that.  So this is what I did: Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!

Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!Trimmed.Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!

Added some dollar store leaves behind the main page.Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!

I don’t like the placement of the red leaf, but am trying to tell myself to just leave it, to not take everything down to rearrange!!! grrrrr.  Oh well.  So this is what it looks like, and you can click on the folder below to download a zipped folder.  Unzip and print!  Let me know if it’s not working, since, ahem, it’s been awhile since I’ve uploaded a printable….  This photo below is just the example, and somehow one of the words is cut off and there’s a watermark that says personal use only, so that means it’s just for you to use in your home, y’know, no copying or selling or that kind of thing!

Thanksgiving printable by dennasideas.com, easy Fall Decor ideas from denna's ideas!Find the original copy for your personal printing use here:

Nutella-filled Cookie Tarts for Fall

Nutella-filled Cookie Tarts for Fall

Mmmm Nutella!  I have noticed several posts on facebook about the *surprising* evils of Nutella.  It’s not the “healthy” food we thought.  Or is it.  I always knew that something that yummy couldn’t possibly be healthy, so I don’t feel that I was led astray by advertising.  I don’t even remember discovering the deliciousness of Nutella until I was a grown-up.  Ah well, someone special brought me a treat the other day….2 jars of Nutella!  And all of a sudden I felt a crazing* for Nutella and cookies. Together. In one bite.  I was just going to spread it on a plain cookie, then sandwich it with another cookie, but then I started looking at photos of Nutella-filled cookies, and more goodies made with Nutelllllllllla 🙂  I had fun.  Then I decided to kind of adapt a bit and try spooning the chocolaty sweet into cute little pastry shells, but made from cookie dough.  I grabbed the idea from Chef Cathy here and adapted the cookie dough recipe a bit from Lilaloa who has great cookie recipes.  And boy did it turn out well!!  (Not like all of my experiments!)  Chef Cathy calls them Cookie Pies, but I just have to call them Tarts, because that’s what they look like, a good-old Canadian butter tart shell, in miniature!         (* a crazing is a crazy craving!!  I just mispelled that and thought it quite clever!)denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeThe cookie dough recipe:

Makes about 40 mini tarts

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup of white sugar (a heaping cup, or 2/3 cup)

1 egg

1/2 tsp. each of vanilla and orange extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups of all purpose flour

Beat the butter and sugar together.  It might be nice to use room temperature butter, but mine was fairly cold, and it still works.  Add in the egg and beat a bit more.  Add in vanilla and orange extract, and any food coloring if you want.  I added some orange coloring, but it came out very pale-looking!  Throw in the salt, and keep mixing.  Sprinkle the baking powder over the batter, then one cup of the flour and mix.  Add in the last cup of flour and mix.  (Or you can do it the traditional way!)  The dough was fairly stiff and just a bit dry, so I worked it a bit with my hands at the end.  No need to chill!

Roll out the dough, and use a round cookie cutter that is a bit larger than the openings of a mini muffin pan.  I used a scalloped one.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeCut out the rounds and gently press them into the mini muffin tin.  (I used the rounded handle of a spatula to ever so gently tap them down a bit).  I had greased the pan for the first batch, but later found out that that wasn’t necessary if it is a non-stick pan.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeI didn’t push the shells all the way to the bottom of the cups, and that seemed to work great.  Now with  2 teaspoons, fill each shell with Nutella, about a teaspoon each.  I used a small teaspoon (baby sized) and acutally twirled the Nutella into the shells a bit after these ones were sticking up a bit too much, and that worked well.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeOut of the cookie dough, I used a very small cutter and cut out some maple leaves to pop on top.  The cutter was from one of those linzer cookie cutters that fell apart, so now I just use the middle cutter-outter piece for tiny cookies.  Or you can just crumble up some dough and sprinkle it on top, which is what Chef Cathy did!  Now bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeThey popped out of the pan after sitting a few minutes, very nicely and were golden enough and had cute little bottoms!denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeHave a bite!!! or two!denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipedenna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeI decided that I like them cold, instead of warm out the the oven.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeA sprinkle of cinnamon on the plate was nice, too…denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeI originally just baked up half of the dough, and thought I would save the rest for something else.  But these little cuties disappeared so quickly and were so yummy, the next day I baked up another batch!  That’s why I’m kind of guesstimating that the recipe made 40 mini tarts, we ate them so fast, and a fair bit of cookie dough was munched up, too, so that’s the closest I could come for a number!  These would look super on a Canadian Thanksgiving Table next week!!  Or on an American Table in November.  Or on anyone’s table at any time this fall!  If you like Nutella, I’m pretty sure you will like this easy recipe! 😉

easy Thanksgiving ideas


It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend!!  Our holiday is on Monday, but many people are celebrating today.  We ended up having a busy schedule this weekend, but that’s fine…we’ll maybe roast a turkey on Monday!  I haven’t been doing much decorating for Thanksgiving yet…still have 1 or 2 days, though!

I thought I’d post a few easy ideas to do or make for Thanksgiving, that we’ve done over the years.

How about going for a walk and picking up some autum leaves:You can use them for decorating or make a craft with the kids, heh heh.  I just love the colors!

Whip up some sweet treats:These strawberries were dipped in orange melted candy melts, then when they hardened up, the stripes were piped on with melted candy melt in a plastic bag with a small corner snipped off.  It works well if the strawberries are cold.  Pipe the middle stripes on while the strawberry is sitting on the wax/parchement paper, then carefully pick it up to pipe a few stripes going up the sides….don’t worry about the backside! 🙂  These were really fast, really! Only ingredients are candy melts and strawberries.No pumpkin flavor in these strawberries!!  But if you love pumpkin, how about baking some pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, topped with a fresh cranberry!  Yum!How about trying a thankful leaves craft: (I’m pretty sure this was my sister’s idea!)Help the kids cut out leaf shapes from colored paper, then have everyone write out things that they are thankful for, one per leaf.  Then find a spot to tape them up (green painter’s tape).  We taped them to the inside of the basement door and going down the walls to the basement…they have been there for years now!!Make a pumpkin scarecrow:This is easy if you have a fresh little pumkin and some hay around (a plastic pumkin would work fine, too!).  Fill a pop bottle with sand or rocks, for the body, and make a small hole in the bottom of the pumpkin that will fit over the bottle top.  The clothes we used were my daughter’s clothes from when she was about 1 year old.  We stuffed them with cotton stuffing, then just added some hay coming out the arms and legs and tied them with some string or ribbon.  Two buttons pinned on with straight pins for eyes, and some crocheted curls for hair (they were left over from a Raggedy-Ann wig that my mom made a loooonnnggg time ago!)

And my personal favorite tradition, a fresh flower/fruit centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table:

No matter what else goes on the table, I just love having some fresh flowers!!  One year I hollowed out a little pumpkin and filled it with carnations, so cute!  Another year the arrangement had burgundy carnations, green limes, brussels sprouts and an artichoke.  I loved that one!  I like using carnations because they are sturdy and last for a long time, and I love the look of real fruit (limes, lemons, etc).  Hmm, still hoping to get some flowers or something for Monday…. 🙂  I think last year we had a cornucopia basket spilling out fresh fruit and veggies, and one year the cornucopia had those cool real flowers that are paperlike and dry perfectly…(siemprevivas we call them in Spanish)…What decorating ideas and/or crafts does your family do for Thanksgiving?  Maybe you haven’t had time to do anything, but how about taking just a few moments to make some little thing….or get the kids to do it!  Look around your house and see what you already have that you can use.  The kids will (probably!) enjoy it and it will be a Thanksgiving memory for them.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!  (my dear Canadian friends and family!)