Few traditions speak more of American culture than Thanksgiving. We gather, eat, drink and catch up on the new, as well as look back on the old photos and let our minds wander back. Let us keep what is good and works for us in times of COVID-19 and enjoy our life with friends and family 2021 style.

Fall vegetables such as squash, pumpkins, gourds, plus fall bloomers like mums, winterberry and other unique bare branches like twisted, or black cat willow add a lot to fall porch decor and indoor decor, as well as centerpieces. Candles are always a scintillating addition to the overall ambiance. Using natural products to decorate is cost effective and adds class to the humblest setting. Be authentic to our roots.

As a gal who has several china and crystal patterns and loves tablescape variety, I say if paper plates and disposable cups would help you and your diners enjoy Thanksgiving, please use them. More than style is the importance of honoring the life and comfort of the cooks, diners and cleanup folks enjoying their Thanksgiving day. Many of us have advanced age family and friends who can no longer serve in high style, but can still converse and fully enjoy all the fun of the generations present. The holiday is about giving thanks, not killing the hosts and guests with hand washing, and spot cleaning fine linens. Yes, I like the high style dining on a special holiday too, but let's see how we could adjust it for this year in Covid.

Love to use linen? We all do. Why not cover the linen tablecloth with clear plastic that can prevent spotting from wine and gravy and can simply be wiped off? Napkins can be beautifully printed paper napkins that match the paper plates used for the dinner meal. There are some paper printed products out there that beg for you to use them with their colors and prints of all kinds.

If you want to use your good dishes a little, use the serving bowls and platters. Foods that are put into these vessels are usually too heavy for anything made of paper. You get to use the good dishes in part, but also get a break by using some disposables.

Silverware is another item that can be transferred out and stainless steel or heavy plastic flatware used in place of it. Stainless steel can go into the dishwasher, unless it has some gold trim and the plastic ware can be tossed out. Buy more disposables than you think you will need, as they go faster than you may have planned.

Crystal drinkware can be substituted with modern plastic drinkware, some of it looking like specialized barware drink glasses, or use traditional paper. You make the call.

Another suggestion is not having a full dinner this year, but rather a coffee and dessert buffet. This way you may use all disposables or choose to use your good dishes, as there will not be as many to process after the event. It is a way to have your nice things used, if you want to without the same labor as a dinner.

Most foods now can be pre purchased cooked, with the only thing left to do is warm and serve. If you need this option, please do not feel guilty, use it. Remember this is a holiday celebrating thanks for each other and what we share. Otherwise purchase what you want to and cook what old family recipes are favorites. A blend of old and new.

Pumpkins and mums are my table decor this year. Just go outside and see what you can harvest from your spot and use what looks good to you. Be creative and be thankful for the land we live in and the bounty we have. Enjoy the old and welcome the new as you fashion your own Thanksgiving this year.


Master gardener Fredi Stangland resides in Medina. 

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