Celebrating Thanksgiving Outdoors
By and large, Thanksgiving conjures up images of tucking in inside while the weather turns cold outside. Smells of hot apple cider steeping on the stove and turkey roasting in the oven ward off the usual chill in the air. But if you find yourself at home in California or other places which enjoy temperate weather in November, you might just get creative and move the party outdoors. Like we did in 2009.
We all still remember our outdoor Thanksgiving celebration very fondly. The hardest thing is to wait for nightfall so that the movie can be played while enjoying a family meal. Here's the simple yet unforgettable agenda: serve dinner buffet-style in the kitchen and enjoy your meal outside around a fire pit; project a movie onto a self-constructed screen in your backyard; and, roast marshmallows for smores as a special holiday treat.
The reward? Super kid-friendly, easy prep and clean-up, and a unique occasion that will be treasured for years to come. And, as an extra bonus, this is truly a celebration that can be pulled off with fairly minimal preparation.
Your To Do List To Prepare For Thanksgiving Dinner Outdoors - One Week To Go
In our house, we work best with punchlists. Here is what needs to be done roughly a week before Thanksgiving:
1. Check the weather. Unfortunately, a forecast for rain would mean postponing the fun.
2. Place an order at Whole Foods (or the like) for your Thanksgiving dinner. And, don't forget dessert! We have found that this is a deal that cannot be beat and the food is delicious. Obviously, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can skip this step and plan food prep according to your own taste.
3. Purchase drinks of your choice.
4. Purchase, borrow, or dust off your own movie projector.
5. Purchase, borrow or dig up your copy of 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving'.
6. Purchase wood for the fire pit. If you require extra heat, consider using an outdoor heater near your sitting area. Remember to check the propane gas tank to make sure it is not running low.
7. Purchase graham crackers, marshmallows and hershey's chocolate to make smores. Try using york peppermint patties instead of hershey's for an extra special treat. Our kids love it!
To Do List For Thanksgiving Day
It's time to divide and conquer. Begin Thanksgiving Day by assigning the following jobs. Our kids were actively involved in setting up for our outdoor celebration. They particularly enjoyed helping with the movie screen and setting up the seating around the fire pit.
1. Construct a movie screen in your backyard: we simply tied and stretched a piece of rope from a pole on our back deck across the yard to the opposing fence. A large white sheet from our linen closet doubled as a screen. We used clothespins to attach the sheet to the rope.
2. Set up the DVD player/movie projector: this job might be best suited for the 'techie' in your family. It's not necessarily very difficult, but some of us are more patient than others when it comes to cables, audio, video, etc.
3. Pick up your Thanksgiving dinner order: anyone of driving age can handle picking up the turkey and fixings. Just remember to note the pick-up times specified by your store.
4. Set up seating around the fire pit: we had comfortable chairs for the grown-ups while the kids enjoyed pulling out their camping chairs and lounging on a blanket.
5. Look for extra blankets around the house: this is part for staying warm, part for getting cozy outside.
6. Build up the fire pit with wood to be lit when night falls.
7. Prepare wood sticks to roast the marshmallows.
It's time to sit back, relax and enjoy. All there is left to do is heat up the food, wait for night to fall, light the fire, and press play. I hope you enjoy a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.