There are many reasons that people love Thanksgiving. One of the most attractive parts of the holiday is the traditional dishes that grace our table. I mean, how often do you eat stuffing (sorry dressing, depending on where in the country you live) outside of November or December? If you are of the opinion that traditional equates to boring and predictable, you wouldn’t be alone. So, why don’t we get some traditional thanksgiving dinner recipes and ideas with a unique twist? That way, both types of guests can enjoy, and you can avoid those sideways glances from your Aunt when you say it’s a modern Thanksgiving. (You know what I’m talking about!)

Thanksgiving Recipes with a Twist

With so many side dishes, guests will be hard-pressed to remember every last dish you’ve made. So, take one or two dishes and dial it up. Add a twist. A great appetizer recipe is right here, and it’s vegetarian. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

I think one of the easiest thanksgiving recipes to make unique is stuffing, err, I mean dressing. Fun fact: did you know that there’s a National Stuffing Day, celebrated on November 21? Look at that!

The Food Network has some insanely good Thanksgiving recipes. There are two that I always love to make. The first is very traditional and comforting. I could truly eat my entire weight in stuffing, with maybe some gravy for days. It’s that tasty. Named “basic stuffing“, you can’t get more basic than this.

The Difference is always in the Details

So now that we’ve got the basic Thanksgiving recipe out of the way let’s spice it up. A favorite dish of mine is this Sage, Sausage, and Apple Dressing. I really enjoy the sage’s earthiness, with the sausage’s savory flavor, mixed with the apples’ sweetness. I always recommend making this dish the day-of, so the apples don’t brown.

Though this Thanksgiving recipe calls for stuffing cubes, I personally find that dried bread is tastier. These little cubes of bread are premade and cut to make your life easier. But I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tested the theory of bread quality in the stuffing. I have made dressing with premade cubes and noticed that the dish tastes as stuffing should, but it falls flat. Now, when you dry your own bread, you can choose from ANYTHING you want. Cornbread, rye, sourdough, potato, ciabatta, wheat, you name it, you can stuff-if it. Combine this with cutting your own cubes, and the texture is very different. The nooks and crannies that other loaves of bread have to provide the dish with more texture. Those pitiful cubes are just plain, square puffs of bread.

I’ve even gone so far as to use the dressing spices package often included in pre-packaged products and added that to my hand-cut bread. Guests didn’t think it was made from a box, and all I did was change the texture of my most abundant ingredient-bread. Give it a try; I think you’ll love the result.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas for the Table

The next step to upping your Thanksgiving game is to personalize the experience. Maybe assigned seats are too formal for you, but offering something to your guests with their name on it, whether it’s a place card or a handwritten note to know that you’re thankful for having them at your table, goes a long way in making everyone feel included and special. After all, Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks to those family and friends.

One of the most obvious ways to make your dinner a bit more personal is to include a place card, but let’s get more creative. What about a pretty keepsake invitation? This can make your guests feel more included with a personalized letter in the mail. It goes a lot further than just a verbal invite.

Thanksgiving invitation
Carmen Santorelli Studio, TSE Calligraphy

If invites aren’t an option, what about cookies? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Kim, one more thing to make? Geez”, but seriously. If time isn’t on your side, grab premade cookie dough, cut it out, and decorate. You can do as I did here. I rolled out fondant (you can purchase this too), and stamped a little message into each cookie, and topped each with a hint of gold leaf. Put each into a little craft envelope and write each guests’ name. Boom, you’re done. Guests won’t expect a unique touch like this and make a tasty snack for the kiddos or the grown-ups when it’s time for a post-food coma snack.

Thanksgiving cookie gift

Overall, adding a couple of thanksgiving dinner ideas doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It can be easy and simple. Remember, actions speak louder than words. And at a time like this, anything personalized and comforting can go a long way.

leaf place card idea on wedding reception table

Thanksgiving table decor at home

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Easy Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas Your Guests Will Love

November 20, 2020

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