Turkey? Check.

Stuffing? Check.

Green Bean Casserole? Check.
It sounds delicious. It sounds traditional. It sounds like an amazing Thanksgiving. What else is there to do before the bird goes in the oven? Today at Design Connection, Inc., we’re sharing some great traditions that you can easily incorporate into Thanksgiving this year, and every year to come.

It seems that everyone is making their own centerpieces and tabletop embellishments these days. Thanksgiving is the ultimate DIY holiday! Every bite of food is made from scratch, why not the decorations, too? This braided bread cornucopia is a wonderful gift idea for the Thanksgiving hosts. Don’t doubt your breading abilities – you can do this!

Every family experiences a bit of stress and dysfunction, especially around the holidays. There will be a lot of different characters seated around the table, possibly some with astoundingly opposing views. If you are trying to accommodate a sensitive relationship or avoid a touchy subject (like the “Great Political Debate” that inevitably takes place every year during Thanksgiving dinner), consider using a predetermined seating arrangement. Place cards are an inexpensive and creative way to add an personal touch your place settings.

Photo Source: ArcitechtureArtDesigns.com
Photo Source: ArcitechtureArtDesigns.com

If you love to create, check out these DIY place card ideas. If you don’t have the time to start a craft project, a simple internet search and a decent color printer will have your free customized place cards on the table before your first guest arrives. If you’ve got kids that can help, even better! Let them get creative while you tend to the 1,000 other tasks yet to be tackled. I love this pilgrim napkin holder idea; it’s so simple and fun!

Photo Source: Confessions of a DIYer
Photo Source: Confessions of a Serial DIYer

Make sure your kids’ table is kid-friendly. Trust me; there is nothing more boring to an 8 year old child than being stuck in a room full of talking grown-ups. Blah-blah-blah The Chiefs Game blah-blah-blah Obamacare blah- blah-blah… You get the picture. Give them something fun to do and let the grown-ups carry on their conversations uninterrupted!

Photo Source: Spoonfull.com
Photo Source: Spoonfull.com

Here is a great resource for kids’ Thanksgiving Day themed printables like place mats, activity sheets, coloring pages and table games. Don’t forget to stock up on crayons!

Photo Source: Spoonfull.com
Photo Source: Spoonfull.com

From Grandma’s green bean casserole to Uncle Buck’s deep fried turkey, every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions and special recipes. In my family, it’s just not Thanksgiving without my Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Almonds. This yummy dish is so delicious; it’s always gobbled up before it can join Black Friday’s leftovers! If you include these sweet potatoes in your Turkey Day spread, they will surely become part of your Thanksgiving tradition. Your family will demand it!

Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Almonds

• 4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• Pinch of ground ginger
• 2-3 cups miniature marshmallows (omit if you wish to make the dish less sweet)
• 3/4 to 1 cup almonds – sliced
• NOTE: I love this dish and often double the glaze for the potatoes- it makes it good enough for dessert and a fabulous sweet compliment to savory stuffing and turkey.

Preheat oven to 375В°F. In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish, place the potatoes. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger and boil until the sugar dissolves. Pour mixture over the potatoes and lightly toss to coat. (if the potatoes are cool, don’t be alarmed if the glaze mixture starts to solidify again- just toss as best as you can then put it in the oven, it will become liquid again with the heat where you will be able to baste the potatoes with the mixture to make sure they are coated) Cover the dish tightly with foil.

Bake potatoes 50 minutes. Remove foil and stir potatoes or baste to make sure they are coated with syrup. Bake until the potatoes are tender (use a fork, if you can easily slice through one, they should be done) about 20-30 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Top potatoes with marshmallows and almonds. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt and nuts begin to brown, about 3 minutes.

NOTE: Sometimes I will speed this up and set the oven to broil to give the marshmallows and almonds a nice browning.