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An Orphans's Guide To Thanksgiving

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Being stranded or alone in Los Angeles can be a bit daunting, and sometimes downright scary. On the other hand, the freeways and streets turn into traffic free islands of Shangri-La that make staying in town worth it. Even if you don't have to go anywhere for anything, just pretend you're running a big errand, and marvel at how little time it will take you to go from Santa Monica to Glendale and back. Try it. We dare you. And if you think the driving is good over Thanksgiving, try it during the holidays in December. You'll be sorry to see folks come back.

But, we digress. Thanksgiving is usually a time spent in the company of family members with people stuffing themselves like crazy, and then lying around in a post-Turkey narcotic state, sometimes basking in the blue glow of the tv, which is always showing a football game, or The Wizard of Oz (isn't that always on at Thanksgiving?). However, there is no need to despair if you're stuck in the Big City, thousands of miles away form Aunt Cordelia and her Jello Salad.

The Orphan's Thanksgiving comes into play here. What you do is call a few friends, get them together, and everyone brings something to eat. It's a bonus if there is a turkey involved, but there doesn't have to be. We've seen it done with tv dinners, lunchables, enormous catering dishes full of turkey casserole, sandwiches, pizza, and even some dim sum. It doesn't matter what you eat, it just matters that you get together and have a good time with some close friends. Chances are there will be plenty of other folks stranded in town just like you are, and they'd love to come over and split a wishbone with you.

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Then the best part comes when you roll the dessert part of the festivities into drinks and board games. At least, that's what we do. Because we're crazy like that. There is nothing like pounding shots and playing Cranium while everyone laughs at you. If you can't be thankful for that, then you can't be thankful for anything.

Here are some last minute tips:

In a pinch, a roasted chicken is a nice stand-in for a turkey.

Buy it all ready made! Simply heat, eat, and enjoy. We used Gelson's last year, and will be trying Marie Callendar's this year. This is for the ultimately lazy, or the too busy types out there. They're still taking orders nows, folks! You can get a whole roasted turkey, a ton of sides, cornbread, and a pie all for about $89. And yes, they include the cranberry sauce.

When it comes to booze, one word really stands out: variety.

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Don't go overboard on making the thing too Christmas-y. No need to sing carols while you chug eggnog, but if you feel like tossing a candy cane or two back, go ahead.

Some things you should stock up on beforehand: napkins, toothpicks, ice, extra glasses (plastic is more than fine), and toilet paper. Maybe some fluffy pillows, too. Sooner or later, someone will sack out on the floor, you can count on it.

Napkins, napkins, napkins.

Have some games on hands that involve either embarassment, or make you get up and move somehow. It's a workout AND a score for your team!

Tupperware, saran wrap, tin foil, anything you can save food in. You'll be eating leftovers for days...maybe even weeks.

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Other than making sure you have something to eat, you can pretty much just go crazy and have a wild Thanksgiving party. You have a four-day weekend to enjoy, so what better way to do that than to cram your gut full of yummy food on the first day? Turkey, ahoy!