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10-Second Recipes: Community Service Can Be the Centerpiece of Family Thanksgiving Dinner

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

A cornucopia doesn't have to only service your Thanksgiving table as a centerpiece, it can service the community and your family members as well. Traditional cornucopias-which have been mentioned in mythology since 5 B.C.-are symbols of abundance. During modern times, they often are centerpieces in horn-shaped baskets that are overflowing with autumn fruits and vegetables.

If you would prefer to turn your Thanksgiving into an offering of service to your local or the global community, as well as your dinner guests, start with a large horn-shaped cornucopia basket from a craft or party store, which are often only a few dollars each.

Get some autumn-colored construction paper or fall-themed stationary and cut it into medium-sized squares. As they arrive, have each guest take two squares and a marking pen. On one they would write an act of community service they would like to perform before the next Thanksgiving and on the other a deed they would like to perform for a close family member or friend to ease their load. The colorful papers would then be folded in half and decoratively arranged in the cornucopia table centerpiece. After feasting, they could be read aloud.

Following are just a few seeds for ideas. Fun crafts like these also prove projects can be easy, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative concoctions are proof that everyone has time for perfecting homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!

    A teen son decides his service to the community will be offering to wash dishes at soup kitchens during the holiday season and his service at home will be washing the family dishes during that same festive feasting time period.

    A mom donates the same amount she pays for her Thanksgiving dinner ingredients to three charities. Similarly, she buys a friend she knows whose budget is stretched a supermarket gift card and places it in a seasonal card telling her how much her friendship means to her and all the happiness she wishes for her and her family.

    Children who receive a plentiful amount of gifts each holiday season could offer to wrap charitable gifts their parents buy for needy children and bring them with their parents to charitable organizations and distribute them. For their close-to-home service they could offer to make their siblings' lunches so they can sleep later on school mornings.

    Grandparents might decide to gather up all good condition, but little used coats from family members and friends and give them to a clothes donation center. On the home front, they could provide their own grandchildren with colorful thermal underwear and clothing marking pens for them to draw their own custom designs on the thermals on a table protected by plastic or newspaper.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: If you want to serve old family Thanksgiving or other holiday recipes, but don't have such a repertoire in your clan, consider scouring antique shops and used book stores (in person or online) for dusty, dog-eared treasures that might fit the bill. Often these cost just cents or a few dollars and can also serve as interesting bookshelf decor. One favorite find of mine (even though my family also has plenty of in-house delightful dishes) is "Feeding the Familyby Mary Swartz Rose, PhD, assistant professor of the department of nutrition at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City. It was published by the Macmillan Company in 1917. For holiday ideas, I especially like the chapter Food for the Family Group: Winter Menus, with listings such as stewed fig pudding with creamy sauce, graham muffins and orange and date salad.

Lisa Messinger  at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on
Tags: Budget, Holidays, Parenting, Recipes, Simple Savings, Stay-at-Home Mom
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