‘Round the Table from the American Traditions Series

Cathy Zimmer
Building Traditions ‘Round the Table

When we move into fall here in the Northeast, many of our outdoor summer activities are chased inside by the chill of the fall air. As our grills get covered and our picnicware gets packed away, we look forward to the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and begin planning for the big meals they bring.

Nothing says more about American traditions than large family gatherings with all of our favorite foods. In fact, many of our traditions are centered on the signature dishes of our loved ones. From Grandma’s pineapple stuffing and Nana’s chicken and waffles to Uncle Rob’s deep-fried turkey and Cousin Chris’s made-to-order omelets—whatever your family favorites, the best part of the meal is gathering around the table and reconnecting with the people that mean the most to us.

In honor of the big family meal, we thought it would be fun to introduce three new traditions to the repertoire.  These ideas may be especially appealing if your family has too many commitments at the holidays, and you’re looking to create a new occasion for a get together that comes at a less hectic time.

 New Tradition #1: All Things Pumpkin

As soon as September arrives, we’re inundated with pumpkin flavored fare. Pumpkin flavored lattes and coffees, pumpkin roll, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin beer, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin coffee creamers, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin chips, and even pumpkin gum—everywhere you turn, it’s pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!

Clearly enough people love pumpkin to have created an entire market around pumpkin flavored foods, so why not fully embrace the pumpkin pandemonium and host the most epic profusion of pumpkin powered palette pleasers ever premeditated? That’s right. We’re talking about the All Things Pumpkin meal, where every dish, every course, every bite features our favorite orange friend, the pumpkin. Think it’s impossible? Here are a few recipes both sweet and savory that say otherwise, and check out our fanciful gourds in the Home Décor section to add the perfect touch of fall to the table.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Main Course

Pumpkin Dessert

 New Tradition #2: Season’s Greetings! (It’s Not What You Think)

Surprise! This isn’t a Christmas tradition!

Season’s Greetings is a family meal tradition that celebrates the changing of the season, whatever the season, with the foods and feelings of that season. In September or October, celebrate fall with some warm apple cider and a hearty stew of autumn vegetables served at your table of beautiful fall-themed colors and accents. In December, usher in winter with a scrumptious root vegetable casserole served at your table of stylish wintery whimsy. Let the seasonal offerings of the land guide your menu while your décor complements it with the right look and feel. By the way, the All Things Pumpkin meal fits perfectly with this tradition.

Here are a few recipes and décor ideas to get you started.

Fall Recipe

Fall Décor Image

Winter Recipe

Winter Décor Image

 New Tradition #3: Beginning of an Era

It doesn’t have to be a holiday or someone’s birthday for you to have a little fun dressing up your family table. Choose a favorite decade or era to inspire a dinner table theme. You can use the idea to surprise or honor a family member by recognizing the era of their heyday, or simply have fun with an era you love. If you really want to go all out, you can even dress in the clothing of the era and play the music of the time during the gathering. Google “decorating a table for the 1950’s” or any era or decade of your choice, and you’ll get tons of great ideas for how to create the perfect look. The best part of this ideas is you can use it any time of year. Consider planning an era dinner party during a month with little or no other holiday activity and give the family something to look forward to year after year.