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Nontraditional Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the things to be thankful for while spending treasured time with family and friends. Gathering around the dinner table is a custom that began centuries ago when the pilgrims celebrated the harvest. Many families serve a traditional meal of turkey and gravy with stuffing and lots of side dishes, bread and desserts. Sometimes, we break away from tradition. Here are a few nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner ideas to get you started.

Throw a Friendsgiving party

Fix a big dinner for friends who may or may not have family around during the holiday. You can set the table with gorgeous Thanksgiving-themed dishes and napkins. Place a lazy Susan turntable in the center of the table to make getting seconds an easy process. Your friends can spin it around to get the dish they want to eat. Prepare turkey or ham and bake a loaf of bread or homemade cornbread. Invite others to bring a side dish or dessert. The process is quite simple when everybody brings something. Your friends will feel more a part of it if they participate in the cooking too. If you have a friend who doesn’t cook, he or she can bring the wine or pick up something premade at a store or restaurant. Use a marble wine cooler to keep wine chilled at the table. Serve the red, white or blend variety in elegant stemmed or stemless wine glasses. Wine is an ideal accompaniment to the meal and allows everyone to linger a little longer over conversation.

Host a barbecue

A barbecue is an excellent way to feed a crowd. Friends and family can gather around the cooker and spend time with each other outdoors. Make a batch of coleslaw and potato salad or macaroni salad to go with a tray of baked beans. Fill a bowl with chips, add some cookies and the casual meal is ready. Keep beverages on ice in a galvanized tub or party bucket. This way guests can serve themselves and get refills as needed. Put a recycling bin close by for them discard their empty bottles and cans. Set the picnic tables with colorful melamine outdoor dinnerware. The dishes are practically unbreakable, so they're very suited for outdoor entertaining. While a cookout is a breakaway from the usual turkey, it can become a festive tradition that welcomes a big group year after year. The smell of meat cooking is so aromatic it might bring some neighbors to your table as well.

Go meatless for your Thanksgiving meal

Vegans and vegetarians will appreciate a meatless Thanksgiving meal. Whip up some traditional stuffing (hold the sausage), avoiding butter if you’re going vegan. It is possible to make a tasty, healthy meal while avoiding animal products. Make a tossed salad served in one of the beautiful serving bowls with serving utensils that we have at Pottery Barn. Try one of the seasonal bowls shaped or painted with pumpkins. Add a platter of fruit and a baked vegetable casserole. Fruit sorbet with coconut shavings on top or frozen grapes in champagne makes a delicious vegan dessert. Vegetarians can eat most cakes and pies since they contain no meat. Keep a pitcher of water or tea out for guests to have with the meal. Place a dish of sliced lemons and limes nearby in case they want that added to their drink. Silver and copper pitchers are magnificent left out even when you aren’t using them. Store them in a china cabinet or on a buffet in the dining room.