Get last-minute ideas for Thanksgiving centerpieces, side dishes, and kid-friendly distractions

Gas in some parts of the country has dipped below $2/gallon, the weather forecast is reasonably tame for most of the nation, and it looks all-systems go for a wonderful holiday launch. Here are some ideas for keeping the most-traveled holiday as safe, serene, and memorable-in-a-good-way as possible.

FOOD

Still looking for tasty side dishes to round out the spread? Some yummies with a little extra special something compiled by Good Life Eats include Cranberry Orange Walnut Relish, Mascarpone Chive Mashed Potatoes, Butternut Squash and Kale Quinoa Stuffing, Leek and Bacon Stuffing, Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon, Artichoke, Leek and Potato Casserole, and Apple Pecan Stuffed Squash.

The Butterball “How to Cook a Turkey” hotline is: 800-BUTTERBALL. In existence since 1981, the hotline receives 10,000 calls on Thanksgiving Day alone. The most common question they hear? “My turkey is still frozen. What do I do?” For the answer go to The Kitchn (yes, no ‘e’).

DÉCOR

Didn’t want to drop big bucks on a centerpiece? Or completely forgot about it? That’s OK. Check out Good Housekeeping's “13 Easy and Elegant Thanksgiving Centerpieces.”  They are really lovely and truly quick and easy, including ideas such as partly filling small, clear glass bowls or ramekins with coffee beans and setting pumpkin spice votive candles on top of them. Put several on a clear glass tray. Or just snip some bittersweet or other branches and dried berries and have them spilling over  a large basket.

TRAVEL FOR KIDS

Using AAA data, many media outlets are reporting that 47 million Americans are expected to travel this week, 42 million of those by car. Going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house builds lifetime memories but also can get kids very antsy. For kids 3-6 taking a Little Scholar® learning tablet along for the ride can keep them learning and amused for hours. With over 200 apps, games, songs, and videos it includes activities the whole family can participate in. With no time to order before T-giving, it’s available at Toys “R” Us stores.

Or print out some of these adorable free worksheet bundles that each include a “Great Job!” completion reward certificate. Great for travel, they are also handy for printing out and giving to kids who need some quiet time or down time, away from the festive fray.

GRATITUDE

This is what the holiday and season are about. The world is an imperfect place, and headlines these days can be scary. What a perfect time to count our blessings and tell our loved ones how much they mean to us. To further help focus on that message, download this sweet “Count Your Blessings” song by Brian Vander Ark.

May your Thanksgiving be bountiful in all the ways that matter most!