While I was in in Troy the other day, checking out aluminum baking pans for the (I opted for the pan without handles – less expensive!), I wandered into the candle aisle and lo and behold, I spotted my first Thanksgiving Day game prize — Yankee Candle votives, at $2 each.
A hardware store is chockfull of affordable surprises at every turn.
Ranging in scents from the new “Cherries on Snow” to “Pumpkin Pie” to “Sparkling Cinnamon,” these votives are as festive as you can get. Who can’t use a few new candles to jumpstart the holiday season?
I’m known as “mistress of games” in my family, as there’s only so much chit-chat, football game viewing and food-coma snoozing a hostess can handle. Since there’s no caroling yet, as it’s just Thanksgiving, what’s a hostess to do? Get her game on!
For years, I’ve emceed a Thanksgiving trivia contest. Do you know how long the first Thanksgiving lasted? My brother-in-law, Greg, surely does (he almost always wins in trivia). I award first, second and third prizes, with gifts ranging from large candy bars to handmade soaps shaped like turkeys to holiday-themed dish towels to hand lotion. This year, I’m adding those aforementioned sweet- and spicy-smelling votives to the spoils.
Head's up: Tails, you win
One of my favorite games is “Pin the Tail on the Turkey.” It gets everyone off the sofa, away from the table and out of their chairs. You can draw your own turkey and tape it to a wall, or use the template here. Then blindfold each guest before having them turn around a few times to mix up their orientation. Then give them a different colored tail with tape on the back and watch them try to stick it on the bird’s back area.
All ages, young and old, love to watch people make fools out of themselves. Just be sure someone’s watching the older folks to be sure they don’t get dizzy and fall.
It makes for great video as well. Even teens get into the act (it doesn’t hurt that one of the prizes could be an ITunes, or Subway gift card).
I’ve also bought those small, inexpensive over-the-door hoops baskets (Hasbo Nerf, $6.99 at ) and hung them on a door just off the family room. I give each guest three chances to make a basket (with a small ball) from a certain distance. If there’s a tie, we lengthen the distance for round two. Aunt Donna is queen of the Thanksgiving court at this point.
My husband also runs a living room putting contest. All you need is a putter, a drinking glass (set on its side, to putt the ball into) and a golf ball. It’s fun to see who can get a hole in one (note: the putting area must be carpeted). Whoever gets the most in three tries, wins!
Branching out in a crafty way
A crafty way to enjoy guests’ company is to create a gratitude tree, suggested April McCrumb, owner of , the home décor and gift shops located in Berkley and Rochester Hills, and the in Berkley.
She selects branches out of the backyard at her Beverly Hills home and then adheres paper with notes on them that describe what she’s thankful for. When her out-of-town family arrives for Thanksgiving, they will add to it. McCrumb is also the founder of a.i. paper design, which features McCrumb’s handmade frames, recipe books, photo albums and more.
“I’m offering a free printable PDF at the site with ideas to get started, for those who want to do it with their family,” she said. We're thankful for that!
Day 7: Too busy to cook? Don’t do a thing but pick up your entire meal, all fixed and ready to eat.
Where to find games and prizes
For gift cards