5 Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Meal Special This Year

The holiday may be a little different this year, but it can still be special.

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THEY MAY SPECIALIZE in catering high-end experiences, but when the Shullys of Thiensville-based Shully’s Cuisine & Catering celebrate at home, they’re no different than other families. A holiday meal always includes their Grandma Rudy’s onion dip. These five tips from sisters Nina Shully-Darling and Hadley Shully will help keep everything balanced so you can maximize the meaningful part – the joy.

1. Keep (or Start) a Tradition

Whether it’s a particular dish (Grandma Rudy’s dip) or a decoration. Write messages of gratitude – things you’re thankful for that year – on placemats or a tablecloth you can carry forward from year to year.

2. Focus on What You Do Best

And don’t stress about what you don’t. If you like to make the bird, stick with that and rely on local grocers, bakers and caterers for side dishes and desserts.

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3. Make the Day an Event

Use the natural world to help you set a beautiful table. “Take a nature walk and pick some dried hydrangeas and birch branches” to arrange in vases along with votive candles to add warmth, says Shully-Darling.

4. Add a Personal Touch

It doesn’t matter how large or small the gathering. Give each place setting a handwritten menu and name place card.

5. Incorporate Out-of-Town Loved Ones

Through the magic of Zoom, enjoy a glass of wine or the whole meal with those who can’t join in person. Or prepare a dish “together,” again using a video communications app to bridge the distance.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.