Freshen holiday with thankful centerpieces, relays
Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 9:28 pm
By LEANNE ITALIE
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Ah, Thanksgiving. Food, family, football. In some ways, it is what it is, but if you’re looking to liven up your holiday table, shake off turkey coma or wrench people away from the TV — if just for a while — there’s lots to do.
What about a game of who killed the turkey? Turn a traditional murder mystery evening on its tale feathers with a Thanksgiving theme. Dole out period pilgrim roles, write clues and assign a culprit, with simple props to round out each character.
If Thanksgiving is potluck, ask friends and family to print out and bring along multiple copies of their recipes. Snap photos of each person with their dish as they arrive. Print and paste into small, blank scrapbooks guests can take home.
Games are hugely popular on Thanksgiving, and not just with children. Set up game stations, assign groups and play round-robin style throughout the evening. Members of each group move together from table to table, carrying on play in progress.
For dessert, plant a well-washed nickel in a pumpkin pie. The recipient must keep the coin discovery to himself and think up something stealthily odd to do until somebody guesses he’s the one. How about having your oldest guest hide sweets around the house or outside for children to hunt down at the end of the meal as a no-compete treasure hunt.
Some other ideas for spicing up turkey day:
AT THE TABLE
• Bring a plate, tell a story.
Who doesn’t have part of a place setting or serving piece that tells a story? Invite guests to bring their favorite old gravy boat from grandma, condiment spoon from Niagara Falls or long-packed child’s plate stained with memories. Take turns sharing. Put the pieces to use at dinner.
• Thankful centerpieces.
Forget the cornucopia, floral or turkey table decorations. Use vases holding bare branches or wire stems instead. Place blank stick-on labels around the table with colorful fine-point markers. Ask each guest to write down what they’re thankful for (one thought per label) and decorate with markers. Attach to centerpieces and explain while eating.
• Red state, blue state hangover.
Postelection conversation could pack a punch this Thanksgiving. If you’re looking to head off political tabletalk that can only end badly, try a conversation starter game. One, The Art of Conversation, has separate grown-up and child questions. Another, Table Topics, comes in a space-saving cube with family-oriented cards. Or write down your own conversation starters and throw them into a basket to pass around the table.
IT’S HALFTIME PEOPLE!
• Use television for good, not evil.
Ruling out TV altogether might be a Thanksgiving fantasy, but that doesn’t mean the couch crowd can’t get up and move around a little at halftime. You bought the Wii Fit. It’s time to use it, share it, laugh while Uncle Harry does it. Wouldn’t you love to see Dad get his Miley on with a turn at karaoke, either Wii or otherwise? Snap some pictures and promise e-mail.
• Give the gift of listening.
The oral history project StoryCorps encourages people to record an interview with somebody they care about: an elderly relative, a guest with a cool job, a military veteran. Pack up tapes or discs for guests in festive wrap or jewel boxes to mark the first-ever National Day of Listening planned for Nov. 28 — Black Friday — sponsored by StoryCorps, National Public Radio and the Library of Congress.
• Pass the parcel.
It’s a British child party favorite but there’s no reason all ages can’t enjoy it. Place a prize in a box and wrap. Add layers of all kinds of festive paper, sandwiching in smaller gifts each time. Form a circle and pass the parcel to music. When the music stops, the person with the parcel tears open a layer and claims the prize. Play continues until the final gift is revealed. Wrap more than one parcel and break into two or three circles for larger groups.
• Remember when people used to read?
Assign five children to read a book aloud. The whackier the better and not necessarily on a Thanksgiving theme. The readers get to pick grown-ups to act out the stories. Put out a box of funny hats or other props you might have kicking around the house or choose books ahead of time and head out to a dollar store to stock up on cheap props.
• A day at the races.
The need to be outside after a Thanksgiving feast is great. Toss a football if you must, but consider some relay races instead.
Find a few pairs of garish men’s boxers big enough to pull up over clothes. Split into teams and line up. At ready, set, go, the first in each line pulls on the boxers, runs a sprint and returns to pass off the undies to the next person.
Another team relay idea: Each person takes off one of their shoes and throws it into a pile. Teams line up a sprint away from the shoe mountain. The relay begins with the first in line dashing for his shoe, putting it on properly and dashing back. That’s one big pile of shoes for all teams — not one pile per team.
• Shoe boxes for charity.
The list of group good-deed projects is endless: help out at a soup kitchen, join a food drive, ask guests to bring donations and make food baskets to drop off at a church.
Here’s a good one that you can do year-round to help needy children around the world:
Ask your guests to bring empty shoe boxes or small plastic containers with lids. Provide small items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, toys and school supplies, or ask guests to bring those, too. Wrapping is not required.
Assign guests an age range and gender for recipients (girls ages 2-4, boys ages 10-14, for instance.) Print out gender and age labels and simple blank packing forms from the Web site Samaritanspurse.org. Fill out and tape to top of boxes. The project, run by the international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse, plans more than 2,200 collection points for the boxes around the United States between Nov. 17-24, but you can pack up yours on Thanksgiving day and ship them off to: Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607
On the net:
Host a murder mystery party: http://www.wikihow.com/Host-a-Murder-Mystery-Party
Pack a shoebox: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Pack_A_Shoe_Box/
Published in The Messenger 11.12.08