Thanksgiving on the Fly: Part 1

Posted on Nov 13 2013 - 10:00am by Jessi Meehan

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner! In our family this year, we are fortunate enough to celebrate TWO Thanksgivings, thanks to half of us being Canadians. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, and it was perfect timing for us to have some fun with it. For the holidays, our family splits the big dinner responsibilities…meaning, Chris’ brother Matt and his wife Shari handle Thanksgiving and we do Christmas dinner at our house. We wanted to be able to share some recipes, décor ideas, and all around Thanksgiving fun with everyone, so this year we decided to do “Thanksgiving on the Fly”! You may think we’re crazy, but it was honestly so easy and fun, we want to do it again!

Two of the kids live here in town, but John was also in town that weekend for a conference. We held our Thanksgiving on the fly for 7 people, we did almost everything the day/night before, and we were able to have a beautiful meal with literally NO stress and all the great leftovers! We had a really busy few days that weekend, so we used some event basics to plan out exactly what we needed and what we had on hand to use. We started off with our menu. It’s always best to figure out exactly what you’re going to be serving, so that you can coordinate both the shopping trip, and how you set your table/where you set your table.

We opted for:

– Turkey (duh!)
– Secret stuffing (We always “doctor” up some Stove Top stuffing with veggies, green onion and celery, and day old bread. It’s easy and everyone raves about it…shhhhh)
– Broccoli casserole (stay tuned for the recipe!)
– Baked squash with marshmallows
– My Great Grandma “Gigi’s” Cheesy Potatoes (We’ll also share this one with you!)
– Lots of fresh veggies (pre-made relish tray)
– Cranberry sauce (We used Ocean Spray since we were “on the fly”, but if you have the time making homemade is delicious too! We garnished ours with oranges and put it in a favorite glass bowl with a pedestal.)
– Gravy and rolls


While Chris ran to the grocery store to pick up the few items we didn’t already have, we got started on planning our table. Now, one thing you’ll hear about a lot around here is how we’ve never found a tablecloth to fit our dining room table. Thankfully, we have a wonderful and crafty friend who’s helping us solve that challenge….but in the meantime; we’ve had to get creative. For this quick table, we decided to go simple and rustic. We grabbed two green tablecloths and layered them length wise to cover the table. We also had some cute and colorful felt leaves in our “fall box” that we’d picked up years ago on sale at CVS Drugstore. It helped us to cover the borders of the tablecloths, ground everything, and made everything “pop” with autumn colors.


We created our centerpiece using a little vintage stool that was Gavin’s when he was a baby, and it helped us elevate our pumpkin. We used some of those fabric leaves from the Dollar Tree to help fill it in and ground it, grabbed some smaller pumpkins that were already on our dining room table display, pulled some of that beautiful preserved Indian corn out of another piece of “Fall Décor”…and we were all set! It took us less than ten minutes, cost us nothing extra, and it was the perfect simple centerpiece.


We alternated some “everyday” colorful red and yellow plates (that weren’t even china and worked better with our theme), added napkins that were a different color than the table cloth, but still coordinated and pulled the other fall colors in. Another simple “event basic” is to keep all your table linens ironed and in one place so they are always ready to go. We used some pinecones we had around the house to ground the napkins…and everything was really coming together. Since we had used up all of the caramel apples we made, we grabbed some pre-made little apples from the store and were able to create placeholders quickly. We had some ribbon in our gift-wrap box, cut up an old brown paper bag and VOILA! A cute rustic placeholder that not only worked with our theme, but it doubled as a yummy dessert and a cute take-home favor.

The only thing we were missing was something to serve our spiced iced tea in. Then it dawned on us…MASON JARS! They had a pack of 10 on sale for $8.00 at Target, as well as fall colored twine and that was all we needed to really tie our tea idea in with the rustic feel of the table. It was so cheap and so festive once we filled them with the fall flavored tea! This is a convenient idea if you having a crowd and don’t have enough glasses. These jars have so many other uses throughout the year!


Some “Event Basics” that pulled our table together:

–       being able to switch out already-standing Fall Décor items
–       “grounding” our centerpiece and plates with leaf placemats to create a colorful and full, yet simple table
–       “elevating” our centerpiece to give it dimension, but with just enough height that everyone can still see each other and chat
–       using pinecones to add a fall touch to table-settings
–       place-cards; whether you use them on apples or just simple cards…is an event basic that we always implement. It helps you control seating, and when dinner is hot and ready, guests don’t have to wander around wondering where to sit, it’s all planned for them.

Do you have any go-to pieces that you love to use for your Thanksgiving table? Have you ever used a kind of “out there” idea that turned out “Practically Perfect”? Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our mailing list so we can send you recipes from our upcoming “Thanksgiving on the Fly: Part Two” this week. Can’t wait to show you more!

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Tracy November 14, 2013 at 7:42 am -

    The timing of this blog couldn’t be better. I always struggle with the multiple “height” thing when setting a table, or creating a collage of like items. I have used cake plates, books, vases and even turned upside down trays but never thought about furniture like a stool on a table. What a terrific idea. That brings a whole new dimension to layering. Love it love it love it!!!!