How to Host a Thanksgiving Dinner Block Party

Given the rate of inflation, many people believe that they need to win the Mega Jackpot on the Grande Vegas online casino in order to pay for a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the fixings and shared with all their relatives who currently live all over the country.

But when you are given lemons, you make lemonade.

Turn lemons into lemonade

In April 2020, it was still the beginning of the COVID pandemic (let’s keep this conversation non-political) … it was the Jewish holiday of Passover and lockdowns all over the country were in full force, so families that were used to spending the Passover holiday together were not able to.

So what did the community Beer’sheva, Israel do?  They create a community-wide Passover Seder, and everybody in the community moved their dining room table outside for Passover Seder, so they could share with friends and loved ones that they otherwise would not have been able to invite over.

So why can’t people in the United States do the same thing?  Take their dining room tables outside and celebrate Thanksgiving as a whole community, just as they did in the original Thanksgiving meal.  And yes, I am well aware that there is a lot of myth in the original Thanksgiving meal story, but that is another story.

We cannot have a traditional Thanksgiving meal due to inflation

Currently, there are no lockdowns or travel restrictions, but with inflation so high, many people taking long-distance airplane flights or train rides, or bus rides to far-away cities is out of the question.  With gas, on average, around $4 (and as high as $5.80 in California), even driving is not an option.

But doing a small family Thanksgiving meal (or even being alone on Thanksgiving, if you are young and single and far away from family) can be depressing.

So what do you do?  According to a recent survey, 25% of the US population is opting out of celebrating Thanksgiving this year.

Traditionally only 90% of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving (2019).

In 2021, only 70% planned to celebrate Thanksgiving.  12% said that they definitely would not be celebrating Thanksgiving, while the last 18% were unsure if they would celebrate Thanksgiving.  So, in the end, probably 88% celebrated Thanksgiving.  Of Americans under  30 (single adults living far away from immediate family), 60% said that they definitely would celebrate Thanksgiving.  18% said that they definitely would not celebrate Thanksgiving.  And the final 23% said that they were unsure.  There are also lower numbers in the senior population.

In 2022, 75% said that they definitely plan to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Which is actually a higher number than in 2021, but lower than in 2019.  But the survey does indicate if the 25% who do not plan to celebrate Thanksgiving are “definitely not celebrating Thanksgiving” (aka, even if they got an invite, they would still say no) compared to “unsure” (aka, if given an invite, they would celebrate, but are not planning to host their own dinner).

Bring the Thanksgiving dinner outside, in front, and have a block-wide Thanksgiving Celebration

Assuming weather permitting (which may not be true in all areas of the United States), celebrate your Thanksgiving meal outside.

Get a permit from the local officials and block off the street to prevent traffic from driving down your block during your “block party”.  Most communities do provide permits for block parties that include blocking off traffic, but you usually have to obtain a permit, so the police is aware of what is going on.

Blocking your street without a permit is against the law, and the police will crash your Thanksgiving meal (which nobody wants, including the police).  Believe it or not, the police do enjoy seeing their community get together in times of celebration, and just enjoying life without destroying property and without doing violence.

Rent a large tent or canopy, and if the weather is borderline, something to provide some heat.  Fire pits can work for this.  Just make sure that they are not too close to things that can burn.

You will need tables and chairs.  This is informal, so they do not need to match.  We are not doing a wedding.  This is a Thanksgiving meal.  So whatever, weather permitting furniture you can find will work.

Do a pot luck style Thanksgiving meal

A potluck meal is when each person contributes a dish to share with the group.  If your local store is not offering a free Turkey this year, this item may need to be shared with a couple of “families”.  Although, we are spending so much more on food, how would grocery stores lose money by offering free Turkeys?  Aren’t we spending more in grocery stores than in previous years?  But anyways …

  1. Thanksgiving Turkey — Who has Thanksgiving without Turkey … unless you are a vegetarian … so they can be assigned to bring a vegetarian dish to share.
  2. Stuffing for Turkey and/or on the side.  I personally love stuffing that is cooked inside the Turkey.  Just make sure the stuffing reaches a temperature of 165 fahrenheit.
  3. Gravy (made from the drippings of the Turkey).
  4. Potatoes that are cooked at the bottom of the Turkey pan, so they get the Turkey drippings.
  5. Cooked side dishes (corn on the cob, green beans, or whatever else people want).
  6. Salads and other uncooked side dishes.
  7. Paper plates, cups, eating utensils, napkins, paper towels, etc.  (You could use reusable, but who really wants to wash all of the dishes or risk them breaking?).
  8. Rolls, homemade bread, etc.
  9. Desserts, traditional apple pie, or whatever else people like.
  10. Drinks, homemade lemonade is always good and low cost.

Personally, that is all I ever serve.  I usually skip appetizers and soups, but if you live in a borderline temperature area, soup may be good and easy to keep hot on a hotplate or in a crockpot.  Chicken soup, tomato base soup, or vegetarian soup (to provide more options for your vegetarian guests) are all good options.  Plus, soup is a dish that is super easy to create in a huge pot to feed a crowd.  Some people even create Turkey soup by simply taking one of the turkeys, cutting it up into its parts, and putting the backbone of the Turkey and wings into the soup.

Hint: Turkey wings and chicken wings are the “sweetest” part of the turkey, so a bowl of soup-cooked turkey meat with lots of soup-cooked vegetables that little hands can grab with their hands will allow even the youngest guests to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal.  Sorry children under 1, but you are going to have to wait for round two through mommy love.  😄

What about my guests who celebrate indigenous people’s day instead of Thanksgiving?

Here are some foods that are considered “Indigenous foods” (Native American Foods):

  1. Squash
  2. Corn (obviously)
  3. Kale
  4. Pumpkin
  5. Amaranth
  6. Quinoa
  7. Wild rice
  8. Chia seeds
  9. Sunflower seeds
  10. Pine nuts
  11. Acorns
  12. Maple syrup

As for meats, Native Americans ate alligators, bears, beavers, buffalo, caribou, deer, moose, ducks, elk, rabbits, a variety of fish (salmon, smelt, bass, trout, sturgeon, etc.), geese, insects, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, turtles, seals, shellfish and whales.  Deer hunting anyone?  Or you could just serve a fish dish.

But with Corn-on-the-Cob and Pumpkin Pie, you cannot go wrong.

Happy Thanksgiving 2022.