Delight your holiday guests with these fantastic fixes and sweet new traditions! We promise they’ll make this year’s holiday celebration unforgettable.
“These are a fun twist on the traditional sweet potato casserole. Get the kids involved by letting them mash the potatoes and sprinkle on the toppings.”
—Sara Welch, Dinner at the Zoo
Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes: Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash 8 sweet potatoes and prick several times with a fork. Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet, coated with cooking spray, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool, slice o top third and scoop out most of the flesh into a medium bowl, leaving some on the skin. Reserve 6 potato skins. Mash 2 Tbsp each butter and brown sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon and salt into potato flesh. Spoon into potato skins. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine 2 Tbsp each flour, brown sugar, chopped pecans and cold butter. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes and bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven, press mini marshmallows into tops and bake another 3 minutes, or until marshmallows melt. Sprinkle with chopped dried cranberries. Serves 6
Tip: Make it ahead! Put the streusel on, then wrap and store in the fridge. Continue with recipe at dinner time.
Spotlight on Pie
“It’s so difficult to see everyone you want during the holiday season, and sometimes fulfilling family obligations can hinder seeing friends and neighbors. My solution: Host a pre-Thanksgiving pie party! Since we never save room for dessert on Thanksgiving Day, this gives the pie a day to shine!”
—Megan Pyrah, Brassy Apple
Enjoy an Edible Wreath
“When I serve this seasonal twist on a cheese platter, it’s the talk of the party.”
—Monica Matheny, The Yummy Life
Use a small cookie cutter to cut shapes from a variety of cheeses (about 3 lbs for a large wreath). Arrange cheese in a wreath pattern on a platter, tucking in pretzel chips. Serve with cranberry relish for spreading or dipping. Get step-by-step instructions here.
Tip: Cut out the cheese shapes 2 to 3 days ahead and store covered in the refrigerator. Save the cheese scraps from the leaf-cutting to use in a casserole or as a salad topper.
Gourds of Gratitude
“We need to stop and focus and be intentional about counting our blessings.To help do that in our family, we started the tradition of the Thankful Pumpkin. All you need is a pumpkin, a permanent marker and a heart full of gratitude.”
—Amy Latta, One Artsy Mama
Invite family and friends to scrawl their biggest blessings on the pumpkin.
“While you’re busy in the kitchen whipping up a feast, entertain the children with a fun and easy Thanksgiving game: turkey bowling! You can prepare the ‘pins’ in advance in a matter of minutes, or you can let older children do it. Either way, this is a fun Thanksgiving activity that gets everyone up, moving and laughing!”
—Blair Lonergan, The Seasoned Mom
Glue googly eyes and tape paint chips, cut into feather and beak shapes, to the sides of seven brown plastic cups (available at party supply stores). Arrange cups in a V-shaped formation, and use mini pumpkins as bowling balls. Have fun seeing who can take down the most turkeys.
Spread triangular shortbread cookies (like Walkers) with caramel ice-cream topping and sprinkle with sea salt. Add a squiggle of white frosting for these pumpkin-pie posers.
—Katrina Bahl, In Katrina’s Kitchen
Be a Smart Server
“Getting everything on the table piping hot and at the same time will go a lot more smoothly if you take out all your serving plates, bowls and utensils ahead of time. By Wednesday night, choose and label with a sticky note both a serving dish and utensil for every item on your menu. I promise labeling your serving pieces ahead of time makes serving the meal go a lot faster.”
—Marge Perry, A Sweet and Savory Life