11 Innovative Tricks and Tweaks to Upgrade Your Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving may be a time for beloved traditions, but a few smart technological flourishes can ensure that the year’s tastiest holiday is also one of its most innovative.

1. Jump-Start Your Menu

Let’s dive right into the primary attraction: food. A Thanksgiving feast without turkey, cranberry sauce, or stuffing might inspire protest, but there are ways to freshen up these old staples. Giving your turkey the Peking duck treatment or a Southwestern rub can add exotic flair to the main course, while spicing up your cranberry sauce with mustard seeds or garnishing your stuffing with sausage and shiitake mushrooms can take the classics in some daring and delicious new directions. Use a recipe app like Epicurious to find a novel twist that’s right for your family.

2. Remember It’s All in the Timing

Preparing seven new dishes for 14 hungry relatives is no easy feat. Keeping track of your kitchen during the cooking process is going to require an extra set of eyes … or at least an extra set of timers. The KitchenPad Timer app can make your oven’s clock obsolete by keeping track of up to nine separate dishes at once and making sure you know when each one is ready.

3. Grocery Shop from Your Kitchen

No matter how amazing your recipes and techniques are, you can’t impress your family if you can’t procure all the ingredients necessary for your holiday smorgasbord. Rather than heading out to a supermarket on the swamped day before Thanksgiving, rely on Instacart, Peapod, or any number of grocery delivery sites and apps to get all your fixings carted straight to your kitchen.

4. Spice Up Your Ambiance

Before you even get to dinner, you’ve got to set the mood. Paper pilgrim centerpieces are great, but a hip Thanksgiving calls for hip decorations, no shortage of which can be found on Etsy. Adorn your home with table settings, banners, and wine bottle vases decorated in holiday themes.

5. Set Your Menu

Want to make your dinner feel a little fancier? Hand out official menus to your dinner guests. You can try print-at-home services like Must Have Menus, the fancier Superior Menus, or simply get creative with your art supplies and do the whole thing on your own.

6. Time the Parade Perfectly

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a beloved tradition, but it’s easy to miss a favorite character or float during the long broadcast. Luckily, the time-honored tradition has an app that tells you which characters and spectacles are on their way so you can tune in just in time to see the kids’ (and your!) favorites.

7. Serve the Kids Apps

Speaking of the kids, it’s smart to set a few activities aside to keep them occupied throughout the day. You can include both high- and low-tech options, including holiday-themed apps like Thanksgiving Fun, Facts & Trivia, or the wide variety of holiday-themed crafts you’re bound to find on Pinterest.

8. Raise the Stakes on Football

Excited for Thanksgiving football but worried that not all your relatives will enjoy your choice of programming? Get the whole family invested with a one-day-only fantasy football league. You can use programs like Rotowire to put together an easy draft before game time.

9. Work Up an Appetite

Then again, a crisp November morning is the perfect setting for a little outdoor time, and 5K runs have become a staple of Thanksgiving celebrations. Thousands of towns across the country host “turkey trot” races, and if you’re not quite sure where to locate the 5K nearest you, the Race Finder app will prove invaluable—especially if you’re planning to work up the energy for that gigantic meal later on.

10. Make Even Distant Relatives Feel Close

It’s likely that not everyone in the family will be able to make it to your place for dinner this year, but that shouldn’t preclude these faraway relatives from joining in on the festivities. When it comes time to give thanks, pop on Skype and connect with your grandparents back in Topeka, your sister in Seattle, or your free-spirited cousin who should be somewhere around Nepal by the end of November.

11. Find a Way to Give Back

The best part of Thanksgiving is the compassion that it can bring out in each of us. A number of apps make volunteer work easier to find and even more rewarding to carry out—VolunteerMatch helps you to zero in on opportunities in your area that match your favorite causes and interests.

The right innovations can make even familiar staples like these traditions seem new. Intel® RealSense™ technology is the same way. With features like gesture control, 3D scanning, and immersive video chat, it will redefine the way we interact with our devices. Learn more here: intel.com.