Below, you’ll find 3 questions that can be jumping-off points for writing or discussion in the classroom, or conversation starters for the dinner table, such as: What are your Turkey Day traditions? What are your favorite side dishes? Do you participate in Black Friday shopping?
What are your favorite side dishes?
Source: New York Times Upshot based on Google search data
What do people eat on Thanksgiving in your state? Take a look at the map above, which shows the most “distinct” Thanksgiving side dish by state as determined by the number of Google searches during the week of Thanksgiving from 2004 to 2013, relative to the number of searches in other states. Have you ever tried any of these foods?
What are your Turkey Day traditions?
Every family celebrates Thanksgiving differently. What are your holiday traditions?
How do you and your family or community celebrate Thanksgiving? What does the food you serve or the things you do that day say about where you are from?
If your Thanksgiving is anything like mine, you have friends and family hovering in the kitchen until the much-anticipated meal is ready. In order to keep people from continually asking “Is it ready yet?,” a Thanksgiving charcuterie board is the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer to serve while you’re finishing up the mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey. Packed with meat, cheese, nuts, fruits and veggies, this seasonal spread has something for everyone.
Cheeses and meat: It wouldn’t be a traditional charcuterie board without cheese and meat! We opted for rolled-up cuts of hot uncured capocollo, and several kinds of cheese: a tangy blue, cubes of Colby and a wedge of Merlot Bellavitano with a vibrant, edible rind. We also cut a maple leaf shape into a small wheel of buttery Brie and filled it with highbush cranberry jam—a simple yet creative way to incorporate fall shapes on your Thanksgiving charcuterie board.
Fruits, vegetables and herbs: A wide selection of fall produce makes a Thanksgiving board feel especially seasonal.
A loose line of apples, pears and miniature pumpkins (both real and ceramic) draws your eye from one side of the spread to the other. Blanched green beans, as well as sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme, bring in a pop of green to break up the warm harvest hues, while tiny arils in pomegranate halves add a lot of visual texture—even in comparison to slightly bigger fruits like dried apricots and grapes.
Other items: Both pickles and homemade cinnamon praline nuts bring some necessary crunch, and would make a perfect pair with the blanched green beans. Maple leaf cookies from Trader Joe’s are a sweet treat that everyone will want to try, while a bowl of mixed olives in a pumpkin-shaped bowl is a salty, savory finishing touch.
How to Build a Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board
Step 1: Begin with the Brie
First, cut a maple leaf shape into the wheel of Brie using a cookie cutter. Then, place the Brie and the jar of highbush cranberry jam a little off center from the middle of the board.
While we went with a maple leaf shape to match the Trader Joe’s cookies, you can use whatever fall-shaped cookie cutout you like.
Step 2: Place the bowls
After the Brie and jam, place the next biggest items: the bowls. Put down the bowl of olives in the top right corner, and balance out the board by putting the other bowl of candied pecans further away, leaving some space in between the cheese to make room for produce.
Step 3: Make space for the apples, pears and pumpkins
The empty space between the jar of jam and the bowl of pecans is perfect for bigger items like apples and pears. After you place some there, disperse the rest of them throughout the board, feeling free to cut one (or a few) in half.
Step 4: Set down the other cheeses
We placed the Merlot Bellavitano next to the Brie, since the purple coloring on the rind matches the cranberry jam in the middle of the wheel of Brie. Cubes of Colby would pair nicely with the pecans, so we put them next to each other in the bottom left corner. We set the red pomegranate halves above the orange bowl of pecans.
Step 5: Fill with remaining fruits, veggies, pickles and meat
Since the remaining items are smaller, they’re perfect for filling in the gaps on the board. We put the pickles and dried apricots in the upper left-hand corner, next to the pomegranates. Because the blanched green beans and rolls of hot uncured capocollo are similarly shaped, they look nice near each other in the lower left-hand corner.
Create some visual contrast by putting the round grapes next to the Colby cubes.
Step 6: Arrange the finishing touches
Arrange the Trader Joe’s maple leaf cookies to the right of the wheel of Brie, and sprinkle in a few more cookies in other spots of the board as well. Tuck in aromatic green sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme sporadically.
Step 7: Serve!
Put out snack plates, napkins and toothpick skewers, so guests can prick their desired food items easily without using their fingers. If you have them, cheese markers will help you as a host by taking away the need to explain each kind of cheese to every guest. If you like, Chardonnay would be an ideal drink pairing, or try even more perfect pairings for cheese boards.
Place spoons with the pecans, olives and jam— and don’t forget to fill your wheel of Brie with the jam before you serve it!
What else can you put on a Thanksgiving charcuterie board?
Although we only included one kind of meat on our board, you could easily add more if your guests love the protein. Some other options for charcuterie meats could include prosciutto or salami. Adding a few kinds of crackers to go along with the slew of cheeses makes perfect sense—whether you go with Wheat Thins, Triscuits or club crackers (or all of the above).
Otherwise, take the spread in a different direction by making it into a Thanksgiving treat board: Fill yours up with fudge-striped turkey cookies, fall-themed sugar cookies, candy corn, maple-glazed shortbread cookies, truffles and more of your favorite fall desserts.
This winter, deck out your front door with a gorgeous winter greens planter that really celebrates the season using natural evergreen boughs, branches and holiday accents! Not only will you feel the Christmas spirit every time you get home (not to mention have that wonderful evergreen aroma) but your family and holiday guests will as well. Our easy guide to creating a winter planter of your own will soon have you singing fa-la-la-la-la and stocking up on fir boughs and pinecones.
Gather all your greenery and branches together for your design. There are so many great choices for a winter planter, make sure to mix it up with at least three or more kinds of greenery, to really get different textures in your design and create interest. Some of our favourite winter greens include: Carolina sapphire, juniper, noble fir, hemlock, white pine, Oregonia, cedar, douglas fir and silver fir. We also love to use eucalyptus (there are a number of different varieties and they all look amazing!), magnolia, skimmia, and ilex berries (so colourful) in our designs as natural accents.
1. Prepping the Pot
Fill your pot with potting soil, it’s a great base for anchoring your greens and branches in place! (PRO-TIP: You can also re-use a finished planter from last season. To prepare a used pot from last season, simply sheer the tops of the old plants off from their roots and clean the top of the soil. The roots in the soil are a perfect anchor to hold your greens in place.)
2. Branching Out
Start with the tallest branches/poles in the centre of your planter. We suggest that your final greens arrangement should be double the height and double the width of your pot. (So, if your pot is 16″ tall and 12″ wide, your arrangement is 32″ tall and 24″ wide.) For branches, try cornus, birch poles, alpine huck, or anything you can collect from the wild. You can also use faux berries or pinecones on picks in the centre.
3. Create a Collar
Next, create a collar using greens around the rim of the pot, to define the overall width of the arrangement. Jason uses silver fir boughs here, turning them over to showcase the pale white needles which fit in beautifully with the theme of this winter planter.
4. Fill in the Greens
Finally, add in the greenery tight against these poles/branches to secure them in place. Fill up the centre of your design with greens that stagger in height, decreasing as you get farther from the centre. Bright green douglas fir, long-needled white pine, juniper and seed pod eucalyptus branches create interesting textures and varied shades of green!
5. Add the Bling
Accents are a great way to add interest. Faux berries, glitzy ornaments or natural seedpods. A few shiny baubles create reflections and immediately bring the Christmas spirit to an arrangement! You can also use natural accents you’ve collected like pinecones or woodcuts. We carry a large assortment of different accents for every style!
Even though these winter planter arrangements are not living, they need to be watered once a week, with cold water, to help keep the greens fresh. In climates where freezing is normal, once the arrangement is frozen, you can leave it. In climates where it doesn’t freeze often, you will need to water more often.
For more inspiration in creating your own winter planters, take a look at our free Planter Templates collection, where you can download and print instructions and blueprints to use!
Make this special occasion all about food and friends.
Hosting Friendsgiving should be all about food and friends, not stress. We’re sharing our best Friendsgiving ideas, easy tips, quick recipes, and freebies that’ll help you host with ease.
Host the Ultimate Friendsgiving
Food and friends—there’s so much to be thankful for! Celebrate your friends with the ultimate holiday gathering. If you haven’t heard of Friendsgiving, we’re here with the ultimate what-to-know guide. There aren’t any Friendsgiving rules—just gather your pals and enjoy a meal together. We’re sharing tested tips for hosting the big meal with ease. Plus, we’ve got you covered with fast and free printables!
Go Big Batch
Plan out your Friendsgiving drinks a few days before the party. There’s no need to whip up single-serve cocktails for every guest—a big batch of punch is sure to get the party started. Plus, we’re obsessed with how fun the garnishes are in this gorgeous punch bowl setup.
Make an Edible Centerpiece
Skip a fancy centerpiece for Friendsgiving and create an edible showstopper instead. To make, simply pile cheese and crackers on a cake stand. Arrange fresh grapes around the bottom and you’re ready to start snacking.
Try Turkey Breast
Juicy BBQ turkey breast is one of our favorite Friendsgiving recipes. It’s easier to cook than the whole bird and doesn’t require any carving—simply slice and serve at dinnertime.