Autumn Harvest - Thanksgiving at Plymouth
Autumn Harvest Party
Relive the Thanksgiving celebration at Plymouth 1621 with this neat party idea.
First send out an invitation. Here are some invitation ideas: tie a note with the party info to a pretty bouquet of autumn leaves, write info on a small miniature pumpkins, make a hand print turkey with multi-color feathers and of course write the info anywhere you like or make small 3d mayflowers out of folded paper and include info on sails. Make sure to say it’s a potluck and share some food ideas of the time such as Indian corn bread, meat pies, honey apples, corn and squash. To make it even more authentic contact people and make sure they have a recipe from the pilgrim times. Also in the invitations tell people to dress as an Indian or a Pilgrim.
No need for decorations if you're going for the authentic look at the time of the first Thanksgiving. Of course you can always do a little just to make it look like the Plymouth settlement. Call up people and ask them if they have any old pilgrim looking things like a butter churn, half barrel and wash board, rusty old farming tools and such. Pumpkins, Indian corn, a cornucopia and apple pyramid will add to the harvest feel. If you want to you can have an Indian area set up. If you have the right type of barbecue you can take the bole off and burry it half way in the ground to make a fire pit. You can also put out pots, baskets, mats and if you stick up to poles in the ground and stretch leather between them it will look like drying animal skins.
Food is mostly taken care of although you should definitely be the turkey provider. For drinks have tea and for desert have a pumpkin pie even though they weren't around at the first Thanksgiving it’s just such a tradition you can't leave it out.
Games and activities where a big part of the Thanksgiving at Plymouth. They had foot races and other games. I would suggest playing an Indian game and Pilgrim game plus some crafts and a foot race. The race should be just for fun no prizes but you can declare the winner a pniesog, which is an Indian warrior. If the winner is willing give him a couple streaks of natural face paint on his or her cheeks. The paint is simply made by dipping sandstone in water and rubbing it on a hard surface like another rock.
For the other games you can take dowels and a large hoop and roll the hoop across the ground an let kids try throwing the dowels through the moving hoop. This was a popular Indian game. For the Pilgrim game you can play a roaring game of marbles. If you have enough let kids take home some marbles in a pouch. For authentic marbles make clay ones and put them in a burlap sack or just use the normal ones from the store.
Crafts are always great because the kids have fun doing them and then have something to take home. You can make corn husk dolls, scrap dolls from bits of fabric, bow and arrows out of raffia and willow sticks and or take a strip of leather or crinkled paper bag and punch holes on either side, attach feathers, tie raffia threw the holes, place on your head; an Indian head dress.
It’s also fun to have everyone try a bit of cooking. So make biscuits and using stones grind corn flour which some Indians just ate as a snack. Before everyone sits down to eat say your thanks in prayer, poem or Indian speech whatever you want. Then eat up. For over the top authentic make one girl serve food and have everyone obey the customs that the children can't talk unless questioned by an adult. These rules are unnecessary for just a fun time rather than serious learning experience.
Here are some other tips: Keep a box of dull colored costumes skirts, pinafores, aprons, belts, large white collar shirts and pants out for kids. Kids who didn't bring a costume if they want to be Indians you can give them the head band and face paint I showed instructions for above. Also if not to cold have the feast outdoors. The Pilgrims were not fond of music but you can rent some Indian music from the library to put on. If kids are old enough let them light a fire in the pit I suggested. The kids can also wash some old clothes on a wash board and shake cream into butter. Set the table with only knives, spoons and a dull colored tablecloth. Let people mainly eat with their hands.
I hope my ideas were useful to you.
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