Non-Americans are often curious about our Thanksgiving celebration. What is the real story about Thanksgiving? Why do we celebrate it? What is the history of it? What do we eat? This is a wonderful opportunity to invite some of our non-American friends to our homes to experience the occasion with us. The resources below can help you celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way and the story of the Pilgrims provides a natural way to honor God and give Him thanks.

Click on any of the photos below to get more details, templates, and recipes:

Thanksgiving Recipes

See my menu and recipes for preparing a complete Thanksgiving dinner from scratch! Cooking from scratch allows you to make Stuffing-without Pepperidge Farms, Gravy-without a mix from McCormick, and Apple Pie without Mrs. Swanson. Certain ingredients-such as cranberries and pecans-may have to be substituted with a local ingredient, or have a friend ship you a care package!

Click here to see the recipes for a complete, traditional Thanksgiving meal. These recipes are especially adapted for cooks who live outside of North America, using readily available ingredients so that the dishes from scratch.

Coloring Pages

These are especially helpful to keep small children entertained before or after the meal, while teaching them about American culture.

“Happy Thanksgiving” with a turkey

Indian girl

Pilgrim boy

Pilgrim man and Indian man


A Short History about Thanksgiving

It would probably be best to not just read this word-for-word (or translate it directly), but use it as a guide to share the reason for Thanksgiving: to thank God for His blessings. Take time at the end of the explanation to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. If appropriate, you may ask your guests to also express their thanks to God. One way this can be done is to “hide” 3 kernels of un-popped popcorn under each person’s plate. When the plates are cleared, go around the table giving each person an opportunity to express appreciation for 3 different things. We found our Italian friends participated in this willingly-and enjoyed learning the history of Thanksgiving.

Making a Turkey Pineapple Centerpiece

A friend made my Turkey Pineapple Centerpiece several years ago, and I love it! It’s so convenient that now I have the turkey head and just buy a fresh pineapple each year-voila! An easy centerpiece that gets a lot of attention. Link to the general pattern and instructions below. (My friend made a few minor changes but used this pattern for mine.)

Instructions for making a turkey centerpiece.

Pattern for making a turkey centerpiece.

Place Cards

I love using place cards-it lets my guests know I was planning on them being with us. Also, it saves the confusion right when we’re ready to sit down of, “Where do you want me to sit?” You can simply write each name on a folded piece of cardstock and decorate with Thanksgiving stickers or your own designs, or use my printable placecards (see below).

I like to write the name on both sides of the folded card-so the names can be read from both sides of the table. This not only helps guests find their place at the table but guests sitting opposite them can easily be reminded of their names, if they don’t know each other well.

My printable place cards have traditional Thanksgiving graphics, as well as a verse about giving thanks. The verses are in English but in the Word version, you can change the verse to another language, or use a different verse. If you would like to write your guests’ names using a computer font instead of by hand, please write to me for a Publisher version, instead of the PDF or Word versions. The Publisher version will allow you to easily change the verse, the graphic, or write your guests’ names. (WordPress does not allow me to upload Publisher files and Word does not allow me to rotate a text box so that guests’ names can be written on both sides of the card…sorry for this limitation and complication!)

A4 printable Place Card PDF

A4 printable Place Card Word version

Letter-size printable Place Card PDF

Letter-size printable Place Card Word version


 Reading Comprehension pages

Are your guests interested in learning English better? Then these short summaries about Thanksgiving are for you!





Keep it simple! Enjoy the process.

For me the secret is working ahead on anything I can-placecards, centerpiece, etc.-so I’m not overwhelmed at the last minute. Looking for more ideas? Here are a few great websites with craft and decorating ideas: (This is the Better Homes & Gardens site with lots of info.)


Happy Thanksgiving!