What to Do with your Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey

After a big Thanksgiving meal, many people end up with quite a bit of extra turkey. Nibbling on leftovers is fine, but here are some additional healthy ways to use that leftover turkey.

This is our family favorite. Simply slather mayonnaise on your favorite bread and add turkey. Enjoy! Of course, you can make this sandwich fancier by using toasted garlic bread, or adding some seasonings to the mayonnaise. You can quickly whip up some gourmet style mayo by adding some of the packet ranch dressing mix to it.

Instead of regular old sliced bread, make turkey sandwiches with fresh or chiabata bread for a different taste.

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich
Start with some really good toast. Rub a little garlic or butter on it if you’d like. Then, lay slices of turkey on it and cover with gravy. Heat up some left over stuffing and stick it in the toaster oven or your regular oven to give it a nice little crust and dinner is ready.

Turkey and Rice Soup
Use the leftover bones from the turkey and throw them in a large stock pot. Cover them with plenty of water and add some onion, celery, carrot and salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil and boil for about 45 min. Strain out the liquid, return it to the pot, add some rice and leftover pieces of turkey. Add any vegetables you like as well and cook until the rice and veggies are tender.

Turkey Enchiladas
You can fix turkey enchiladas just like you would chicken enchiladas with your favorite sauce, tortillas and cheese. Just shred the turkey, and heat it with some cheese and enchilada sauce. Spoon the mixture on flour or corn tortillas and roll them up. Place the tortilla rolls in a greased baking dish and top with more enchilada sauce and plenty of cheese. Then bake them up until the cheese is nice and bubbly. They are a great way to use turkey in something that has a completely different flavor.

Turkey Wraps
Tired of turkey sandwiches? Use a tortilla instead. Pile on lettuce, raw veggies and plenty of turkey. Top with some ranch dressing and roll it up for a portable lunch or snack. Another fun idea is to mix shredded turkey with a little mayonnaise, some chopped apple, grapes and a few walnuts for a turkey salad wrap.

Turkey Salad
Make a gorgeous, colorful salad, using all the vegetables you can find in the store. Add sliced turkey to the top and add your favorite salad dressing. Or make a turkey Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, turkey, parmesan cheese, croutons and Caesar dressing.

Turkey Chili
Shred your leftover turkey and cook it along with beans, tomatoes and your favorite chili seasonings. Of course you can also toss in any leftover veggies like corn or green beans and cook them right along with the rest of the chili ingredients. Serve with cornbread.

Teaching Your Kids to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach your kids about being thankful. Here are some ideas to teach your children how to appreciate the blessings in their lives.

Giving Thanks Placemats
The goal of this craft is to create a collage filled with drawings and pictures of all the things your children are thankful for. Cut photos from magazines, or print some photos from your computer. Older children can write captions under the photos or draw their own. Be sure to put the child’s name and the year on it.

If you make this collage from two standard letter size pieces of construction paper taped side-by-side, you can take the completed collage to a copy shop when you’re done and have it laminated. It then becomes a placemat that you can use every Thanksgiving for years to come.

Thankful Paper Chain
Another way to remind your children of their blessings is to create a paper chain. This is similar to a regular paper chain – where you cut strips of paper and connect them together as loops, but there’s one difference. You write on the strips of paper before you connect them. Write the things you are thankful for with your children. For instance, “Grandma plays games with me” or “My teacher is nice.” The fun part of this activity is to make the chain as long as possible – showing all your blessings. If you’d like to keep this up during Christmas, just use green and white paper.

Thanksgiving Tree
This is another take on the idea above and works really well if you have several kids in the family. Get each child to trace their hand on yellow, red, or brown construction paper. Cut out the hand shapes and write (or have the child write) what they are thankful for on the hand shape. Cut a tree trunk shape out of brown construction paper. Glue it on a large piece of poster board. Let the kids add their hand shapes as leaves above the tree trunk, turning it into a beautiful fall colored tree.

Thankful Book

This idea is similar to the others, except it’s more of a keepsake. Purchase a photo album or scrapbook kit and make a “blessings” theme. Add photos of loved ones, including stories about why they are special to you. Also, include pages of your favorite foods, favorite stories, favorite movies and all the other things that make you happy. Any time your kids feel down, you can open your blessing book to see all the reasons you have to be happy – and thankful for the blessings in your life.

Setting the Table for Thanksgiving

When hosting Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family, the food is of utmost importance. However, if you serve the most decadent meal on paper plates –your delicious meal will taste less than spectacular.

It works both ways. If you invest some time and effort into decorating your Thanksgiving table –your overcooked turkey and undercooked beans will be less noticeable as well.

Bring out the good linens for your guests. If you don’t have a Thanksgiving tablecloth, you can use some Thanksgiving or fall themed fabric. There are even some very nice looking fall and Thanksgiving themed disposable table cloths available.

The Dishes
The type of dishes you use is up to you. If you are mostly entertaining adults and this is a fairly small get together, it may be a good idea to use your fine china.

On the other hand, if you are entertaining a large crowd and have lots of kids in the mix, opt for disposable dishes, cups and cutlery. Clean up will be much easier and you don’t have to worry about dishes breaking.

Buy some orange, brown, deep red or green cloth napkins. You can find these reasonably-priced at most discount stores. They will add a nice “holiday” touch to any table.

Thanksgiving Themed Centerpiece
If you don’t plan on putting all the food on the table, and you have the room, create a Thanksgiving themed centerpiece. This can be something as simple as a bowl of miniature pumpkins, gourds and native corn, or a fall flower arrangement. If you have a cornucopia, fill it and lay it on the table, allowing some of the corn and pumpkins to roll out of it.

Little touches make a big difference. You could scoop out a pumpkin and serve dip in it. Use mini pumpkins with names written on them as place cards.

Turn an apple, some toothpicks and a few miniature marshmallows into a turkey

Start by setting the apple on a flat surface. Insert a toothpick with a large marshmallow on one side. Add some raisins as eyes. For the turkey’s tail, add four toothpicks with a miniature marshmallow on each end to the other side of the apple. Voila – a turkey for each guest that also makes for a fun and healthy snack.

Set the table the night before to free up time during the big day.

If you set a nice table, arrange for most of the food to be set out on a separate table, buffet-style. Consider getting hotplates, crock pots etc to keep food warm while it is sitting out.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece – Create Something Unique

Your centerpiece is the main decoration on your Thanksgiving table. Make it special with these ideas. Of course these decorations will also look stunning if you set them on a counter or the mantle over the fire place.

Fall Vegetables
Begin with a pumpkin and gourds. Loosely arrange them on the table or mantle.  Set a natural-color candle on each side of your display. Finish your free form art center piece by sprinkling colorful fall leaves all over and around your center pieces. Make sure they are not too close to the candles, of course.

Fall Leaves
Simply find a large glass bowl and fill it with beautiful fall leaves. Set a candle on each side of the bowl to showcase the leaves. Then, cut leaf shapes out of construction paper and use them as place cards. Of course you could also press small leaves, and glue them to a plain white place card.

Floral Display of Abundance
Make a dried floral arrangement from fall flowers. Gather some of the plastic sticks that the florists use to hold notecards. Stick them into the floral display, but put photos of the things you are thankful for in them, instead. Or, if you don’t have photos, just write words on notecards and display them in the floral arrangement. Some words you may start with are “family”, “friends”, “food”, “laughter”.

Carve A Pumpkin
Yes, you heard right, carve a pumpkin. Of course you don’t want to go with the traditional jack-o-lantern design here. Instead carve some geometrical designs, or some flowers, leaf-shapes etc. on your hollowed out pumpkin. Add a candle inside the carved pumpkin and light it just before your guests arrive.

Pumpkin Candle Holders
Get some small pumpkins and hollow out enough room on the top of the pumpkin to stick a candle in it. Group of few of these candle holders together for a festive center piece. Finish your candle arrangement with a few pieces of native corn placed around your pumpkin candle holders. Give the arrangement more dimension by using different size pumpkins and candles. Use some scented candles to give your room that Holiday smell.

Are you feeling inspired yet by all these ideas? Dig through your Thanksgiving supplies or take a stroll through your local craft store and you will come up with your own versions of these suggestions, or even a creation all of your own.

Thanksgiving Crafts to Do With Kids

Spending time creating Thanksgiving crafts with your kids can turn a holiday that isn’t quite as exciting as getting Halloween candy or Christmas gifts into a fun kid’s day!

Turkey Apple
Turkey apples are a fun craft to make with the kids as well as a healthy snack. You will need an apple, 6 toothpicks, 1 large and 5 miniature marshmallows as well as some raisins and one piece of candy corn for each turkey.

Set the apple stem up on a flat surface. Stick a toothpick in the top part of one side of the apple. Add the large marshmallow to the top of the toothpick. Decorate the face of the turkey with two raisins as eyes and stick the candy corn in upside down into the marshmallow to make the beak.

Thread each of the remaining toothpicks with 3 raisins, and then top it off with one of the miniature marshmallows. These will be the tail feathers of your turkey. Stick the 4 toothpicks evenly spaced on the opposite side of the top of the apple.

Corn Collage
Cut a basic corn shape out of yellow construction paper. Tear little pieces of yellow and purple tissue paper and crumble them into little balls. Glue them on the corn shape to represent kernels of corn. Cut leaf shapes out of green construction paper and glue them behind your ear of corn.

Pilgrim Hat
You need a large paper grocery bag and some construction paper in black and yellow for each child. Fold the rim of the bag over to make a brim for the hat. Then cut a large strip of black construction paper and tape or glue it around the hat. Cut a belt buckle shape out of the yellow construction paper and glue it to the belt in the front of the hat.

Turkey Handprint Crafts
This craft is a family tradition in many homes. First, outline your child’s foot once on a piece of brown construction paper. Then, outline her hands twice on red or yellow construction paper. Cut a beak out of orange construction paper.

Of course, if you visit craft stores like Michaels or online craft supply stores, like Oriental Trading, you’ll find thousands of craft ideas for your kids. Oriental Trading offers foam leaves, felt Pilgrim hats, quilts in fall colors, foam turkeys, stickers, craft kits and more.