Thanksgiving Harvest Feast
The first thing you will need for your feast is good weather! The next most important detail is where you will host your harvest feast. If you, a relative or friend have easily accessible but slightly secluded acreage, you can search for a prime location there. Otherwise, I'd become familiar with local parks and find one that is open that late in the year.Our harvest feast was held on a large path between rows of trees which was easily accessible from a road and just a short stroll to the house. We enjoyed nice weather on a slightly crisp autumn day with tree branches forming a canopy above our dining area.
The first thing you will need to do is to bring a table and chairs to your location unless you are having the feast at a park and picnic tables are already provided.You will also need to bring nice linens to cover your table. I also found it helpful to have a smaller table to put the food on.In addition to cloth table coverings, use cloth napkins and place mats if desired.You do not have to bring your very best, expensive china and flatware to the feast but do not use disposable plates and silverware.Get creative with your centerpieces. Glass bowls filled with dried flowers, colorful fall leaves, nuts or assorted gourds, colorful potted mums, small hollowed out pumpkins can also hold your flowers. If you want to use candles, make sure they are set inside hurricane lamps or even the hollowed out pumpkins or large squash.Find a safe area to build a fire (or two as needed depending on the amount of guests) and gather up rocks for the fire pit and dry grasses, twigs and wood and get the fire started early.Set a grill up over the fire pit to keep hot chocolate and mulled cider nice and hot. It will also be used to heat up any food brought to the feast that needs to be warmed back up a bit.
It's best to prepare as much of the food ahead of time if possible and transport it to the party site using coolers and thermal bags to keep hot foods hot (or at least warm!).If you are a fan of deep fried turkey, that can be prepared on site. If you keep a separate fire for warming food, let the flames die down so that just embers remain and then place the food dishes on top of the grill. Any dessert dishes you wish to serve warm can be left there during dinner as well as the hot chocolate and mulled cider. The cider can be served out of a large stock pot with a ladle and keep several pots of hot chocolate going at once.
Another option for the hot drinks is to use large, vacuum insulated, pump thermoses to keep your drinks hot. Keep a stack of foam coffee cups next to them for easy self-service.Do not set out hot foods until right before you're ready to sit down to eat because they will cool off much faster than expected. Plates can be kept inside a large, covered baking pan on the grill over embers to warm them prior to use.I suggest bringing mesh food tents to keep any bugs off your uncovered foods.Remember to bring all the serving utensils you'll need as well as several sets of oven mitts and kitchen and paper towels.Large Rubber-Maid™ totes are great for transporting items to the feast and can be used to tote dirty dishes back home in.You can bring an assortment of plastic containers to put your leftovers in and pass them out to guests.
Keep kids busy gathering up twigs and firewood. They always seem to enjoy the hunt!If you happen to have an wild grapevines growing nearby, you can fashion them into rings of varying sizes or you can purchase some at a craft store. Bring an assortment of large gourds and maybe a tall, skinny pumpkin and line them up. Each player takes a turn at throwing all the grapevine rings around the gourds. The player with the most rings wins.Gather (or purchase) nuts such as walnuts, acorns, chestnuts etc.. Hollow out some pumpkins and large gourds and see who can throw the most nuts inside.Have a pumpkin seed spitting contest!Challenge the kids to a leaf gathering contest. They may only take one leaf from each tree type such as Maple, Elm, Oak etc. The person with the most leaves wins.You can also have a nut gathering contest with the winner finding the most nuts. The nuts can then be used for the nut toss game above.