In more recent years it seems that Thanksgiving has shifted from a holiday of feasting to a holiday of overconsumption. In the interest of teaching my children to waste less, I want to bring the focus of a nice holiday feast back to my family’s Thanksgiving table. From decorations and planning to the actual celebration, this is a great holiday to involve your children in from start to finish instilling values to last a lifetime.
It’s no secret that my kids like to do crafts. With Thanksgiving only a couple weeks away, we have been spending our craft-time making Thanksgiving decorations. The first things we made were milk jug turkeys. We painted empty gallon milk bottles brown, and while the paint was drying we cut feather shapes out of construction paper. Once the paint was dry, we glued the feathers onto the jug. To make the turkey face, we used white pompons for the eyes with small black felt circles glued onto them, and a piece of red construction paper cut into the wattle shape. Last we made feet out of orange construction paper by tracing my son’s hands, cutting them out and gluing them to the bottom of the jug. My son is so proud of them and can’t wait to show them to everyone who comes through our door.
I’m planning to host Thanksgiving at my house this year. As such, I’ve found a great craft to do with my son using the dozens of empty toilet paper rolls we’ve been collecting. We discovered it on the Family Fun website and it details how to make Indian Corn napkin rings. I’m not sure whether we’ll follow these directions, or if we’ll use the toilet paper rolls to make our own variation of napkin rings. Either way, I know they’ll be a festive addition to our table.
While some may try to persuade you to go truly eco-friendly and skip the turkey this year for a tofu-turkey, I cannot do that—my family will be eating turkey. In the interest of minimizing waste, we’ll be purchasing an appropriate sized turkey for the number of people joining us for Thanksgiving. UseLessStuff.com offers some helpful recommendations on how much turkey (and other foods) to make per guest. I like to order a fresh turkey from my local supermarket or butcher—not only is it a more eco-friendly option to buy local, but I think a fresh turkey tastes better.
When you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, it’s important to think about what types of side dishes everyone likes. If you stick with foods that most people like, then there will be less waste. Don’t forget to ask your kids which favorite food they would like. If you can buy fresh local produce, then that is certainly the most eco-friendly option. Don’t be afraid to skip certain foods. Year after year, I put cranberry sauce on the table and year after year it goes untouched. This begs the question “Why am I buying this?” I will be skipping cranberry sauce this year. Of course, sometimes there is food that just doesn’t get finished and there’s waste from cooking. Instead of tossing it in the garbage, why not compost it? You can create your own compost and when spring comes, you’ll have some great nutrients for your garden.
When Thanksgiving Thursday arrives, I’ll be turning down the thermostat before everyone arrives. The body heat of all of my guests, and having the oven and stove on will certainly be sufficient to keep the house a comfortable temperature. Another environmentally-conscious decision I’ll be making is to use my good china. I realize some people opt to use disposable dishes on the holidays to avoid the extra work of washing dishes, but it’s so much better for the environment to wash your dishes instead of adding to the landfills. Besides, most dishes (including china) are dishwasher-safe, so there’s really no excuse. You’re also setting the standard for a great tradition for your children. As long as I can remember, my mom always used her good china and real silverware for holiday meals. That’s something I want to pass on to my children.
This Thanksgiving, remember not to just take the easy route. The choices you make on holidays and the things you do will stay with your children. Each holiday you are creating a tradition, and if you want your children to behave in an eco-friendly way for years to come, then it’s important to set the example today.