This fall, outdoor gatherings are extending well beyond tailgating. Depending on the weather where you live, having Thanksgiving outside might not be a new tradition at all. For others, it’s a big change.
If your get-together is looking and feeling a little different, the food you serve might, too. An outdoor Thanksgiving calls for easy-to-eat items, more portable picks, and fewer shared family-style dishes. This year can be a fun opportunity to try different foods and new twists on Thanksgiving traditions.
Use these tips to think about how you celebrate while staying true to why you celebrate.
Skip the Dinner Plate This Thanksgiving
Rather than making an old tradition stick in a new time, go the Thanksgiving sandwich route. By including all of the family dinner classics in between two slices of bread, you’ve got an easy, flavorful alternative to an overcrowded, hard-to-handle dinner plate.
Try pre-made sandwiches featuring the Thanksgiving favorites:
- Skip the regular bread and go for a larger country loaf with a soft center and nice crispy crust on the outside.
- Use this easy roasted turkey as your protein.
- Load up a variety of toppings such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, lettuce, avocado, bacon, and cheese.
- Don’t forget the condiments—provide individual cups of cranberry chutney, rubbed sage mayo, and gravy for guests to customize their sandwich
Grab-and-Go Thanksgiving Side Dishes and Apps
Looking for alternatives to communal hors d’oeuvres or side dishes? Use mason jars to house individual servings of crudité, cheese and crackers, or even more hearty classics like sweet potato casserole or stuffing. Simply layer the jars with all the fixings for fun individual portions that are just as Insta-worthy as they are delicious.
Mind the Weather When Celebrating Thanksgiving Outdoors
No matter the forecast, it’s best to be prepared.
If it’s typically chilly in your area for Thanksgiving, try to host near a firepit or invest in some outdoor heating. If it’s on the warmer side, bring fans for circulation or umbrellas for shade.
Having a few larger canopies on hand will help save the day if a rain shower pops up. Remember: If it ends up being a complete wash-out (or white-out, if you’re expecting snow), you can have guests stop by to pick up pre-portioned servings to take home and enjoy.
This year, it’s all about the “why,” not the “how.” Open spaces can allow for larger celebrations, different kinds of food and activities, and a fresh, new way to give thanks with the people you love.
Looking for more resources? You can find all kinds of recipes and tips for a stress-free dinner—no matter how you’re planning to celebrate—in our Guide to Thanksgiving.