Happy Thanksgiving! Are you ready for a full weekend of food, family and football? Week 12 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday at 12:30 p.m. ET, and while plenty of fans will be in the stands, even more will be among friends and family watching the games from a cozy living room.
Nothing makes Thanksgiving like kicking back and properly enjoying some great football with your loved ones. Here are some tips to properly enjoy a jam-packed holiday weekend.
Variety on the big screen
The Thanksgiving Day spread is pretty cut and dry when it comes to the slate of games. At 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS, we’ve got Josh Allen and the Bills playing Aidan Hutchinson and the Detroit Lions. While Josh Allen is looking to carry the Bills to another postseason berth in a competitive AFC East, the Lions have won two straight and are looking like a scrappy and formidable opponent. It should be a fun, back and forth game while everyone at home is just getting settled for a long day of eating and drinking.
The second helping of Thanksgiving NFL football is an NFC East showdown between Dak Prescott’s Dallas Cowboys and Saquon Barkley’s New York Giants at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox. Both squads are 7-3, but while the Giants are coming off a disappointing loss, the Cowboys just dismantled the Minnesota Vikings. This game will be key in the NFC Wild Card race as the NFC East continues to have the best collective record in the NFL (what a time to be alive). This divisional rivalry is a perfect accompaniment to the beginning of the big Thanksgiving dishes that start to get broken out in the late afternoon.
To end the day right, the New England Patriots, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Matthew Judon, will face down Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota Vikings at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. The Patriots are hoping their defense can carry them to another playoff appearance while the Minnesota Vikings need a bounceback after getting beat down by Dallas on Sunday.
Holiday football doesn’t end on Thursday, however. Thanksgiving weekend features all 32 NFL teams playing, which means 16 games to enjoy between Thursday and Monday. Proper Sunday enjoyment means NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Red Zone so you can keep tabs on the 12 games happening while you enjoy leftovers from Thursday.
Variety on the menu
It ain’t Thanksgiving if you aren’t eating right. What else is going to anchor you down on the couch for almost 12 hours of football if not several courses of Thanksgiving food? Having snacks and apps on hand for snacking is crucial for optimal holiday sports enjoyment. Obviously you can rock with some chips and dip, but why not go a bit further? Impress and delight friends and family with your own charcuterie board. Hard not to love snacking on great meats, cheeses and crackers while watching football.
That is early day enjoyment though. Once the plates start coming out, you need classic Thanksgiving fare to fill your guests up with. Turkey is always going to be a classic, but maybe you are the type to have a ham at your Thanksgiving, or maybe even have both! We all know that the make-or-break of any great Thanksgiving is the sides. Mashed potatoes with skins or no skins! A delicious stuffing. Consider throwing marshmallows on a sweet potato casserole to satisfy the sweet tooths at your Thanksgiving. Find a way to liven up the greens with a delicious bacon green bean dish. Maybe you want to surprise your guests with a few less traditional sides to keep dinner interesting.
For some, the dinner portion of the evening is just a warmup for dessert. You have to break out the classics like pumpkin, pecan and apple pies. If you really want to do it right, have some ice cream to accompany the pie of choice. Of course, a great thanksgiving dessert is more than just pies. Check out this collection of recipes for treats like Linzer bars, chocolate mousse, and pecan brownies.
However, make sure you know the dietary restrictions and preferences of your guests. For people who don’t eat meat or animal products, check out delicious meat-free options like The Very Good Butcher’s Roast Beast (a personal favorite). There are also great options for vegan sides and desserts! If you have guests who can’t eat gluten, check out all these wonderful recipes for gluten-free Thanksgiving dishes!
One of the best parts of preparing (and over-preparing) for Thanksgiving means a few days of easy leftovers. Here are a bunch of different ways to turn your Thanksgiving dinner into game day meals only a few days later for Sunday’s slate of football.
It’s not Thanksgiving and it’s not football unless you have a delicious drink in your hand. For the holiday season, maybe that is a delicious warm cider or hot chocolate. Or, if you want a cold, adult beverage, there are a variety of great beers to pair perfectly with the autumnal spirit.
If beer isn’t your thing, but you are still looking for a (safe) holiday buzz, maybe try one of these Thanksgiving themed cocktails! Need liquor for the cocktails? Consider Smirnoff to mix into your drinks and try some of their signature cocktails. If it’s not beer and it’s not cocktails you are looking for, maybe try one of Smirnoff’s Ready To Drink Options.
Of course, not all your guests are going to drink alcohol and they deserve variety too! Maybe stock up on juices, seltzers and sodas to keep the whole crew happy. After all, you want to make sure you are doing everything to bring people together and truly enjoy the football and food-packed holiday weekend ahead.