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Green Tip Tuesday – Getting the Most of Your Thanksgiving Food and DIY Table Decor

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This is my absolute favorite holiday, and the preparations are the most fun, I think!  Like everyone else, I pore over magazine recipes and stalk Martha Stewart’s website for new decor and dessert ideas until the wee hours of the morning.  But then I realize that after spending so much money on the food, that I really don’t want to shell out any more for sparkly name cards and centerpieces, and I have so much to make as it is, how much DIY can one woman do in a week?  (Because, yes, I am one of those procrastinators who assumes there is still so much time to do things–until suddenly there isn’t!)  So here are a few ideas for those of us who are not exactly Martha’s (but aspire to be!).


By this time, everyone has their menu planned out and is busy with the early preparations.  We all know food prices have continued to rise, so it’s important to maximize every bit of food we buy.  Most households are going to be roasting up a whole bird, and those birds come with a handy packet of giblets inside, ie, the neck, heart, lungs, liver, etc.  Don’t throw them out!  Use them to make your gravy, or boil them up in a bit of water and they become a very high quality pet food for your dog or cat (or chickens, if you have them!  Contrary to what your egg carton says, chickens are not vegetarians).  Save the peels from root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, the skins of onions, and the tops of celery to make your own vegetable broth.  After you’ve picked your bird clean, toss the carcass in a pot or crockpot and make the best poultry broth you’ve ever tasted!  Fresh broth can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or if you’re not going to be using it that soon, simmer it a bit longer and reduce it down by at least half.  After it cools, carefully pour into freezer cube trays, and once they’ve frozen through, toss the cubes in a freezer bag.  When you need to use them, place as many as you need in a pot on the stove, add a bit of water and heat–you can then use this a base for soups, stews, or to flavor rice or potatoes.

If you’re like me, the table settings are almost an afterthought which warrant a madly rushed inventory of the linen closet.  Before I was fortunate enough to own a good tablecloth, I used a bed sheet instead.  All of my guests were nice enough to not notice 🙂  Now that I have an actual tablecloth, I sometimes wish I could go back to using a bed sheet since I can never iron it smooth enough, so I have to take it to the local dry cleaner’s to be pressed a few days before.  I learned my lesson with that, so instead of investing in proper cloth napkins, I took scissors to an old clean bedsheet.  They are softer and more absorbent that the fancy store-bought ones, and if you sew, you can easily seam the edges, perhaps add a ribbon trim, or you can toss the fresh cut squares into the washer, like I did, to fray the edges.  If they get stained beyond using, you can turn them into cleaning rags after.

For other table decor, I like to look around at what I already have or can get for free.  Name card holders?  Try a pinecone with a dot of glue to hold the card.  Centerpiece?  Use the base of a cake stand to arrange a few pillar candles on top.  Don’t have a cakestand?  Check out your local thriftstore for a single cut glass or crystal goblet (with a short thick stem) and a clear glass plate.  Use superglue to attach the top of the glass to the bottom of the plate, and voila!  Raid your yard (or a willing neighbor’s) for small boughs of pine, cedar or holly and arrange along the center of the table or around your centerpiece.  Include some fall fruits like apples, pears, small squash or gourds, whole in-shell nuts, and your table will be beautiful as well as nourishing!

Readers:  what is your favorite way to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers?  Turkey sandwiches are great, but I’m sure we could all use some new ideas!

About the author:  Laura currently works as a domestic goddess, raising one son, a handful of chickens, an ever expanding garden, and selling handmade crafts and beauty items, locally and online. She is passionate about real food, food rights, composting, non-toxic living, and learning lost arts, such as baking, soapmaking, and spinning.  She likes to spend her free time crocheting, reading, or entertaining friends–with food 🙂  She is prone to obsessing over new interests, and is appreciative of her understanding (and handy!) husband.

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  1. Gosh, I wrote this out too fast! For the poultry broth, toss your carcass in a pot or crockpot *and pour in water until it’s covered and then simmer*!

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