Homestyle Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving 2018, Backcountry hot springs

My family has always embraced nontraditional Thanksgivings.  Instead of gathering round a turkey laden table or watching football on tv, we pack our bags and meet up for an active adventure: long hikes on the Appalachian Trail, canyoneering in Moab, rock climbing in Red River Gorge.  I love our tradition; no one feels pressured to host or compete with Martha Stewart.  Meals are communally prepped over a campfire or tossed into a crock pot and left to simmer all day at the hotel.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get some turkey jerky on the trail.  But this year will be different.  We’re all staying home.  I’m hanging up my hiking shoes and tying on an apron. For the first time, I want to give this traditional turkey thing a try.   


Thanksgiving 2017 Canyoneering in Moab

I sat down with Red Carpet’s owner, and hostess extraordinaire, Karen Nichols, for advice on how to make Thanksgiving 2020 a roaring success.  


Start planning early.   

The more you do upfront, the less stress you feel on the day of the event. 

  • Plan your menu a few weeks out.  Then you’ll know how many serving dishes you’ll need.   
  • Once the menu is set, you can start acquiring nonperishable ingredients.  This simple step saves you the panic of a big shopping day.  Get your canned cranberries now! 
  • Set your room décor and prep your dishware the week before the event.  Dig out the serving utensils and wash your platters.  Bonus points if you iron your napkins and tablecloths.   
  • Count and recount your dishes, silverware and glasses.  This prep allows you to take stock and gives you time to obtain anything you might be missing. 
  • Set your table the day before.  Once the table is set, everything else seems to fall into place.  

Make an oven schedule and prep food ahead of your event. 

  • Write out the oven schedule so there is no guesswork or forgotten dishes. 
  • Remember the Turkey needs to rest about 30 minutes.  Once it is out of the oven, you can heat up your casseroles. 
  • Choose dishes that can be made in advance.  It will save you so much stress!  Desserts and casseroles taste better after the flavors have had a day to gel.  Go ahead and make that pie early. 
  • Mixed drinks can be prepared in advance.  Mulled wine in a crock pot tastes wonderful, warms guests bellies and spirits, and makes the house smell lovely 
Photographer: Melina Wallisch

My favorite tips: 

  • Take care of yourself, schedule a shower and primp time.  It’s amazing how hot water can clear your head and bring some focus. 
  • Think about activities to keep kids entertained. 
  • Take advantage of volunteers.  Have them bring desserts, rolls, or wine.  Say yes when someone offers to help. 
  • Don’t forget music. 
  • Be prepared for leftovers and garbage.  Have a plan for the after party clean up and extra to go containers. 
Photographer: VILD Photography

Most importantly, have fun.  Laugh, enjoy your family, and make memories.  You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be present.