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5 Ways to Have a Simple Thanksgiving This Year Without Sacrificing Tradition

If you've recently moved into a new home, preparing a Thanksgiving feast may prove challenging. Here are 5 steps to a simple Thanksgiving.

November 7, 2022
November 7, 2022
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A simple Thanksgiving can be the best kind of holiday for new homeowners.

The holiday season is all about tradition, and those traditions often begin on Thanksgiving. The turkey, the sweet potato casserole, the harvest-themed tables, (most importantly) the pumpkin pie — it wouldn’t feel like a proper Thanksgiving without the staples.

But if you recently moved into a new home, planning an elaborate meal and getting the house ready for guests is a tall order.

Even if you’re not the one hosting, you might feel a lot of pressure to bring that perfect side to the meal, even though you’re still living out of boxes.

So why not make it easy on yourself this year? Here are four ways to have a simple Thanksgiving without sacrificing your favorite foods or traditions.

5 Tips for having a fun and simple Thanksgiving

Make a turkey-based dish instead of roasting a whole bird

There’s an art to roasting an entire turkey, not to mention a lot of time required. Even if you opt for a quicker turkey-cooking method, such as spatchcocking, there’s a lot of prep that goes into it.

If it’s the turkey flavor you’re after, but you have no qualms about not cooking an entire bird, try a modified dish such as The Washington Post’s one-pot turkey thighs braised in cider.

The total prep and cook time is 90 minutes, which means much less time spent worrying whether the meat is cooked through or how it’s going to turn out and more time spent with family and friends.

You also prepare the entire dish in a Dutch oven, and the turkey thighs cook with potatoes, carrots, and apples, so you get that nice, homey aroma from the oven while it cooks.

If you’re not a fan of turkey or your local grocery store doesn’t sell turkey thighs, you can make the recipe with chicken thighs as well.

Another option to simplify your Thanksgiving is to skip the whole turkey and make a simple roast turkey breast instead. That may not work if you’re hosting a large group, but it’s a great alternative if you’re having a small gathering.

Related: 5 Home Renovations That Increase the Value of Your Property

Switch up the sweet potatoes

We all love a good sweet potato casserole, but this New York Times recipe for sweet potatoes baked with lemon is just as tasty, and they require fewer ingredients.

It’s also simple to make — boil, cool, and peel the potatoes; make a quick lemon syrup; then bake until you achieve a tangy and sugary goodness.

We promise, this will go just as well with your turkey as the marshmallow-topped version of sweet potatoes. Plus, it leaves more time to make other items on your Thanksgiving menu.

Related: Young Homeowners Are Keen on Green Remodeling. Here’s How to Get Started

Try a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie

There's no doubt that pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving classic. Sometimes you want something different, though — and to skip all the steps involved in making a pie from scratch.

The Washington Post’s no-bake pumpkin pie cheesecake gives you that traditional pumpkin taste, but with a twist. It’s also easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer and you’re not opposed to store-bought graham cracker crusts.

If you opt for this pumpkin dessert, remember that it needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.  

Make a minimalist centerpiece 

Going all out on Thanksgiving decor is part of the fun, but it can be time-consuming — and pricey — to put together a complex centerpiece and place settings. But less can be more, especially when it comes to centerpieces.

This simple centerpiece takes just minutes to put together, and it combines a little bit of minimalism with that fall feeling to set the tone for your Thanksgiving meal.

We made this with artificial pumpkins and wheat stalks purchased online, but you can just as easily make it with real mini pumpkins and gourds.

Host a potluck Thanksgiving

 Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly. We have an ideal vision of hosting the classic Thanksgiving dinner, cooked entirely by ourselves – not to mention decorating, preparing appetizers, and setting a Pinterest-worthy table.

But for new homeowners especially, that expectation can be unrealistic. So, if you’re stressing about hosting Thanksgiving, make it a potluck. Maybe you provide the turkey and gravy but have everyone else bring the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the pecan and pumpkin pies.

Guests love a way to contribute, and the meal will be that much sweeter since everyone gets to put their special twist on classic Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts. Plus, you get to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones instead of trying to do it all alone.

The bottom line on having a simple Thanksgiving

As a new homeowner, you’ve got a lot to celebrate. Buying a house is a major achievement, and even though it can feel like the unpacking, renovations, and settling in have taken over your life, there’s still a lot to be thankful for.

Give yourself the option of a simple Thanksgiving so you can enjoy being in your new home and making new traditions with the people you love.

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