Make your Thanksgiving weekend great with these three last-minute ideas

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, you might find yourself looking for some last-minute ideas. In need of the perfect Thanksgiving decor? A way to spice up your traditional apple pie? The perfect fall family outing? We’ve got you covered! We have compiled three of our favourite last-minute Thanksgiving ideas.

First, a quick and easy DIY craft that will get you outside and exploring, while also taking your table decor to the next level. Keep on scrolling and you will find an innovative and convenient way to eat apple pie! And to finish it off, we recommend the best thanksgiving family outing in the Greater Toronto Area.

Thanksgiving craft: DIY pine-cone placecards

Evergreen trees grow really well in the northern climate of the Great Lakes region. Head out in the autumn weather and you will likely find pine cones littering the ground of your nearest park!

Not only do they decorate the forest floor, but these pine cones can make great additions to your Thanksgiving table. Get the whole family outside collecting pine cones for a fun autumn outing! Once you have collected your cones, everyone can participate in making these great festive table decorations.

Here’s how:

This simple craft only requires three materials:

• Pine cones

• Liquid glue (Elmer's glue or hot glue gun)

• Paper (thick card stock is best)

Simply print the names of each guest onto your paper and cut them out into small rectangles. Then, place a small dab of glue on the top of the pine cone. Attach each name tag to the pine cone and let dry. Ta da! That’s it. Now you have beautiful rustic place cards for your Thanksgiving table.

Optional: For a bit of extra bling, roll the ends of your pine cones in glue and sprinkle with glitter.

Thanksgiving recipe: Apple pie cookies

Apples grow all over the southern parts of Ontario. The Great Lakes region provides the ideal climate and soil for growing this delicious and versatile fruit. This Thanksgiving, why not head out to your nearest apple orchard to pick your own crisp Ontario apples?

For an exciting family day-trip, why not head down to Chudleigh’s Farm in Milton, Ontario. It has plenty of apples for picking, alongside fun activities for the whole family. This farm is only an eight-minute drive from Kelso Conservation Area! So, you and your family can enjoy a fall hike alongside your apple-picking adventure.

Now that you’ve picked your apples, what should you do with them?

You should bake apple pie cookies! This easy recipe produces delicious, portable treats. Take these cookies on a family hike for that perfect Thanksgiving treat in the convenience of a cookie.

Ingredients:

• 3 apples (~1 lb), peeled and sliced into 8 pieces each

• 1 tbsp lemon juice

• 3 tbsp brown sugar

• 3 tbsp white sugar

• 3 tbsp corn starch

• ½ tsp cinnamon

• Nutmeg to taste

• ¾ cups of water

• Pre-packaged and refrigerated pie dough (2 crusts)

OR: Don’t have time for apple picking? Don’t have time to make the filling from scratch? Just purchase apple pie filling, caramel sauce, and pre-made pie crusts and skip to step 8!

Directions:

1. Toss the apple slices with the lemon

2. In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, brown and white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water

3. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly

4. Let boil for 2 minutes, then add the apple slices

5. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes

6. Remove from the heat and leave covered to soften and cool (apples should be soft, but not mushy)

7. When cooled, take the apples out of the caramel sauce and chop them into smaller pieces (~1cm x 1cm cubes)

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

9. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray

10. Take the pie crusts out and roll each one out on a floured surface (~1cm thick)

11. Spread caramel sauce over one pie crust

12. Spread apple filling over the caramel evenly

13. Cut the 2nd pie crust into 2cm wide strips and create a criss-cross or lattice pattern over the filling

14. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out cookies and place them onto your baking sheet

15. Optional: for extra shine, brush the tops of the cookies with a beaten egg

16. Sprinkle the cookies with cinnamon and sugar

17. Bake for 20-30 minutes (until golden brown)

Thanksgiving outing: Fall Walk Festival at the Rouge National Urban Park

Now that you have made your delicious apple pie cookies, it’s time to take them on a Thanksgiving hike! We suggest heading out to the Rouge National Urban Park.

Each year, the Rouge hosts the Fall Walk Festival on Thanksgiving weekend. Bring the whole family for a day filled with fascinating walks and activities lead by biodiversity experts and guests educators. Learn about the local wildlife, cultural heritage, and agricultural heritage of the Greater Toronto Area.

These spectacular family-friendly nature walks will be happening throughout the Thanksgiving long weekend. All walks are free and no reservations are required! And to make it even easier, the Park Bus is offering a free shuttle service from downtown Toronto and Pickering to the Rouge National Urban Park.