A Five Step Plan for a Killer International Thanksgiving Dinner

Want to hear something scary! Christmas is only 60-ish days away! And since Black Friday must precede Christmas, you know Thanksgiving is getting close too!

I’m going home to Indiana for Thanksgiving because when President Lincoln made it a holiday in 1863, he pretty much had midwestern moms and meals in mind. Are your plans coming together? Is there room at your table?

This may be the easiest time of year to take the plunge and invite some Muslims over. Since it might be too much for ol’ Aunt Lu to have “them” sitting next to her, you may want to have a second Thanksgiving. Either way is a win! (Tweet this.)

Make it happen:

  1. Get some buds and a date
    1. Doing this with friends doubles the odds you won’t bail, halves the labor and brings others into your craziness!
    2. Thanksgiving is Nov. 29th. Friday evening the 30th provides optimal availability and a legit reason to avoid Black Friday!
  2. Get guests
    Maybe you already know some Muslims you’d like to invite over. If you don’t, ask a local refugee agency, community college or university. International students sometimes have several free days, but their friends have gone home to be with Mom.
  3. Make a menu
    1. There are dozens of variables when deciding what to cook, but you’ll probably be fine if you remember: No wine or swine.
    2. Try for a halal turkey. If you buy it live and local, you should be fine except for the strictest Muslims.
    3. Go heavy on the veggies. Most people can eat most vegetables.
    4. Hoosiers take note: No bacon fat in the green beans! And while we’re at it, no green bean casserole! It’s may be halal, but it’s terrible!
  4. Prepare a plan (Take a deep dive here.)
    1. Be ready for expected guests to arrive with extra friends.
    2. Have some questions and conversation starters up your sleeve for dinner.
    3. After dinner play some easy to learn, high laughter-likely games.
  5. Follow up
    1. Get a group photo and email it out to your guests.
    2. Start talking about a Christmas gathering right away.
    3. If you get a payback invitation, take it!

Have you done this? Share your stories here to encourage the rest of us. Questions? I’m happy to scheme with you.

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8 Responses to A Five Step Plan for a Killer International Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. Brian

    Green bean casserole IS thanksgiving! If all we had was green bean casserole, thanksgiving would be complete!

  2. Tom

    We have done this the last couple of years, once with Syrian friends and once with the same Syrian friends plus some from Burkina Faso. A couple of memories stand out. One was watching our adult sons engage and teach our friends about American football – not football to the rest of the world – as we watched the obligatory T-day game. The other was our vivacious granddaughter walking up to our Syrian friend and telling one of her long imaginative and demonstrative stories to Mohamad. He kept looking at me and smiling. She finally finished and left and we all had a great laugh. At that point he did not know English but humored her and enjoyed every minute of it.

    I would encourage anyone to do this. It’s so much fun!

  3. Sheila

    This is one of my favorite things to do! I’ve done this for many holidays throughout the year. You may be surprised how many Muslims have never been invited into the home of a westerner. It’s very sad. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to do it. Many moons ago, I started learning to make Middle Eastern food this way. I thought it would be a fun way to enjoy eating the food I love, spice up my holiday meals and welcome my Muslim friends. It also makes for great conversations about cooking. My friends have always been so gracious about my dishes that didn’t turn out quite right. They gave me amazing cooking tips.
    And I will never, ever forget the moments when I’ve had friends in my home and they have shared that I was the first westerner that invited them into their home. They have asked me why, why did I invite them? I have the opportunity to share with them that they are my neighbor and I love them because Jesus loves them. All worth it. Don’t let the holiday pass. Love your Muslim neighbors.

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  5. Leslie

    I have done this a couple of times with an adult ESL class that I have helped with. One thing to be prepared for: international guests are much more gracious than American guests and will very likely bring additional food for the table. Even though I repeatedly said “I want to treat you to a traditional American Thanksgiving” we ended up with (yummy) potstickers, sushi and various black teas. And because it was an ESL class, I took complete advantage of it by printing a very simple prayer on cards that were at everyone’s place, and then talking about what some of the words meant.

  6. Maggie

    Just asking prayer for a Thanksgiving gathering I’m having this Dec 3 with 10 Muslim friends. I am in their country instead of them being in America. This is such a joy for me. I want to say that I’m thankful for them and to God for bringing them into my life.

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