Newsday's Elisa DiStefano and Meghan Giannotta try some treats and crafts from Long Island makers and stores that'll liven up this year's Thanksgiving table.  Credit: Randee Daddona

It's time to give your Thanksgiving traditions a face-lift. Check out these four twists that might make your holiday the best one ever — from chocolate wishbones to gratitude turkey centerpieces, all with Long Island ties.


Markit Maven, owned by Jill Klein, can transform those recipes...

Markit Maven, owned by Jill Klein, can transform those recipes you have sitting in books into serving dishes that can be used for holidays to come.  Credit: Jill Klein

Be a giving guest and bring your favorite dish on a platter that the host can cherish. 

Last year, Samantha Buser, 49, of East Islip, ordered a large platter with two of her grandmother’s recipes on it from MarkitMaven. The Long Island-based company owned by Jill Klein and Dawn Laffin as well as Art By Marni B, owned by artist Marni Butchkoski, of Smithtown, are among those that can transfer your handwritten, treasured family recipes and messages onto plates, platters, casserole dishes, bowls, pie pans and mugs that can be passed on and used for years to come. 

“It was significant to my family because it brought back memories. I come from a Hispanic family, so one of the recipes was for plantains, the other was for rice and beans," says Buser. "We were happy to bring a little of my grandmother’s presence to the holiday.”

Here's the way it works at MarkitMaven: email a scanned copy of your recipe, family message or photo to be printed on the dishware you choose. Next, it goes into a kiln for nine hours. As a result, the original words become permanently part of the durable platters.

Laffin says with a smile, “Since we work directly with customers, we love to hear their stories. There are lots of tears and memories. I remember receiving a recipe from a family. It had been written by the grandmother who had recently passed away. It was going to be the family’s first Thanksgiving without her.”

MORE INFO MarkitMaven, 631-988-6764; order through the website; prices range from $13.50 to $75. Art By Marni B,; $100 per platter.


Kasel Krafts founder Emily Kasel, of Garden City, has debuted...

Kasel Krafts founder Emily Kasel, of Garden City, has debuted a Thanksgiving dough jar set suitable for kids ages 3 and older. Credit: Kasel Krafts

Setting up a crafty table for kids on Thanksgiving can inspire fun that will last throughout the day. This year, Kasel Krafts founder Emily Kasel, of Garden City, has debuted a Thanksgiving dough jar set suitable for kids 3 and older. 

“On Thanksgiving, the idea is you’re not having your meal right away when the guests walk through the door,” says Kasel. In her family, each child gets a 5-oz jar of sensory, nontoxic dough to play with in fall colors before dinner time. The Dough Jar Set also comes with mini-Thanksgiving objects that have a wide variety of textures. Kids can share tiny acorns, little pie tins, small apples, pumpkins and seasonally colored feathers.

“The product is designed for children to have an open-ended opportunity to play,” Kasel explains. “It’s amazing to see what they do with the pieces.” One kid might make a turkey with feathers, another might create a person with acorn eyes.

Kate Roland, of Garden City, 40, a mother of two, says, "We do a sit-down dinner with my family, but the kids are done eating sooner than everybody else." The dough jar, she adds, may help keep them occupied so they "can continue to join the family fun at the table." 

If you’re up for adding more activities to the kids’ table, try a Thanksgiving coloring table cover. Madison's Niche and Cedarhurst Party in Albertson and East Northport are among local brick-and-mortars selling a paper tablecloth that looks like a coloring book, so kids can draw on turkeys, pumpkins and leaves while seated. Thanksgiving paper place mats with puzzles are also a fun option, as well as make-your-own paper turkey hats. 

MORE INFO Kasel Krafts: order products through Thanksgiving Dough Jar Set with six jars of dough, rolling pins, hefty variety of materials, $43; Holiday Dough to Go Jars, 8-oz. jars of dough plus materials from $10. Orders can be customized in advance.

Cedarhurst Party: 801 Willis Ave., Albertson, 516-248- 4555 or 538 Larkfield Rd., East Northport, 631-368-5200; Table covers start at $5.99. Stores also sell Thanksgiving Leftover containers.

Madison's Niche: Locations in Woodbury, Huntington Village, Garden City, Sayville, Stony Brook and Plainview; for more info. Table runner, $35.


A chocolate cornucopia and chocolate wishbone lollipop from Stony Brook...

A chocolate cornucopia and chocolate wishbone lollipop from Stony Brook Chocolate on display in Huntington. Credit: Randee Daddona

As a twist on breaking the wishbone on the Thanksgiving turkey, break a chocolate turkey with a mallet or make a wish on a candy wishbone. Pick up a chocolate mold and make your own as a family activity, or let the professionals do it for you. 

"This is the first year we're doing smash turkeys," says Chocolate Works Plainview manager Susan Cave. "We make a hollow chocolate turkey in the shop, and we put holiday candy inside it, underneath it and beside it on a tray. Each turkey comes with a mallet to smash it.” They’re sold ready-made in the store, or you can order one that will be filled with candies of your choice. 

If smashing a bird isn’t your speed, break a chocolate pumpkin. At Disset Chocolate in Cutchogue, pick up a hollow, store-made chocolate pumpkin that has a sophisticated, sculpted look. It is hand-painted bright orange with a green stem, sits on a pedestal and comes with a mallet.

For one more kids’ craft activity after the meal, Disset offers a holiday paint-on-chocolate kit. The kit comes with four dark or white chocolate bars with the words “thank you” engraved on each one. It also includes edible, colored chocolate paint (red, blue, yellow, and white) plus a paint brush. Owner-chocolatier Ursula XVII explains, “It’s almost like a coloring book. You can paint inside the lines.” After that, chow down.

And chocolate can help solve the fight over the wishbone, too. Stony Brook Chocolate sells them as chocolate pops on a stick, so everyone can get in on the fun, without the mess. 

MORE INFO Chocolate Works Plainview: 371 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview, 516-252-3855; Pricing: smash turkeys, $20-$45; drumsticks, $10; workshops, $25.

Disset Chocolate: 28080 Main Rd., Cutchogue, 631-734-8387; Pricing: pumpkin sculpture, $39; paint your own chocolate kit, $39.

Stony Brook Chocolate: 143 Main St., Stony Brook, 631-675-9366; .


Aluminum to-go containers from Party City and Thanksgiving foldable paper boxes...

Aluminum to-go containers from Party City and Thanksgiving foldable paper boxes are a fun way to pack up leftovers.  Credit: Randee Daddona

“I have two sisters and I pretty much host every holiday at my house,” says Katie Amato of Melville, founder of online company SwagBagsCo. “There are always leftovers and everyone wants to bring the food home, but no one brings their own plastic containers. My sisters are always taking my Tupperware."

Amato realized others probably had the same problem. So she created a business that produces paper boxes and bags with handles that say, “Thank FULL,” and “Thanksgiving Leftovers.” She sells hundreds of them every week this time of year.

Amato uses the boxes and bags with her own family after everyone has finished the Thanksgiving main meal. Before cleaning off the table, she sets out the bags and boxes and asks her guests to help themselves.

If that’s not your style, you can prepare a leftover box for each guest, or give everyone a list of leftovers and ask them to check off what they’d like to take home. Before your guests leave, kids can decorate the leftover bags with Thanksgiving stickers.

Themed to-go boxes are also available at big box stores.

MORE INFO SwagBagsCo, order through Pricing: boxes and bags, $1.75 each.

With Elisa DiStefano 

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