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Disposable Thanksgiving (or, how to not have to wash dishes all evening)

ThanksgivingNobody likes washing dishes at Thanksgiving.  I mean really, how often does it end up that the usual handful of people who set up, cook and serve the turkey dinner are also the ones that clean up and wash the dishes afterward?

Here in Canada, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this Monday.  And we are so looking forward to it.

But this year, because of renovations, we don’t have access to the generations-old family china that we usually use.  So, I’m taking advantage of the situation.

I’m going disposable.

That’s right, there’s no shame in making life easier for yourself and for the others that are cooking, serving and cleaning up.  It’s a holiday after all!  Thanksgiving is a time to relax and spend time with family, while giving thanks together for all of the blessings that we enjoy.

And your table doesn’t have to look like the Royal Chinette family came to dinner either.  I had a great time looking at all of the various styles of disposable dinnerware and cutlery at our local party store.  From paper, to flimsy plastic, to dishes that feel like the Melamine your kids’ Disney plates are made of, there are a ton of options.

I toyed with the idea of using square plates – 10″ ones as chargers, and 8″ ones as plates.  They looked amazing, but the price per plate would have made me want to wash and reuse them … which kind of defeats the purpose.

So here’s what I settled on:

  • 10″ round plastic plates in chocolate brown
  • 6″ round plastic plates in cream for bread and/or dessert
  • Dinner napkins in cream
  • Simple, well made clear plastic cups for cold drinks, and rustic looking paper cups for hot drinks.


I chose to buy a set of inexpensive metal flatware, since we’ve had several bad experiences with plastic cutlery (one involved a trip to the ER!).  These ones cost about the same as a good quality set of durable disposables.  I did keep an eye on the sales and grabbed them as soon as the price dropped.  We can use them for any number of occasions, so they’ll get lots of use.

Now I know what you’re thinking: all of this plastic will end up in the landfill and take hundreds (thousands?) of years to break down.  Actually, our recycling program where we live should be able to handle them.  Even if they couldn’t recycle them though, I really do believe there’s a time and a place to be a little wasteful, especially if you’re a good steward the rest of the year.

I think our Thanksgiving table is going to look great this year!  I’m really looking forward to having less clean up time, and more of a chance to chat and visit with everyone.

Is the idea of using disposable dishes taboo for your family gatherings? Or is washing dishes together an important part of your celebrations?

Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!


  1. Carol

    Hard to believe it is that time of the year already. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you. Looks like you will have easy clean up!
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  2. Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    I’m totally on board with using disposable dishes at parties. It makes sense and when the dishes look this good, it’s a win-win!
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  3. Kristi

    i really like the idea of using disposables for holidays, although not all the time. It allows more time to enjoy the family and I am totally ok with that, especially since my mom and I do the dishes.
    Your table setting is vey cute. Enjoy your thanksgiving!

  4. Alli

    Washing dishes is certainly something I don’t look forward to on Thanksgiving (or any other time – lol). Since I do all the cooking, my kids do the dishes. Even with that said, I’m loving your setup. There’s nothing wrong with using disposables.
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  5. Savannah Miller

    I like to relax and spend time with my family during the holidays! I don’t want to be at the sink as everyone else is enjoying themselves, I agree disposable is so the way to go!!

  6. Dina

    I think when the whole famly gets together you just have to use disposables. Otherwise you spend that day and the next washing dishes and no one wants that.
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  7. Just Plain Marie

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    I must admit – a few weeks ago a whole bunch of people from church came to our house for a “shed raising”. I bought paper plates. They were used as fire starter in the wood stove the next day, so no landfill. And I felt SO guilty for doing it. But I just couldn’t imagine washing dishes for fourteen people! Your plates look much prettier than the cheap paper ones I bought, though.
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  8. Ron

    Smart! I do not like the clean up part after a party.
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  9. Mardene Carr

    Those so not look like disposables at all. Looking good
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  10. Marissa

    I totally understand this decision! We have a huge family gathering on Thanksgiving, more than 30 adults… and many of us have small children… so the dishes pile up fast and high. But then again some of my favorite memories are washing dishes and cleaning up after the meal….

    Still I’m on board with this!


  11. Chantal

    Wow I am loving the beautiful brown plates- they don’t even look disposable! Happy Thanksgiving from a fellow Canadian 🙂
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  12. andi

    LOVE the table – woulda never known it was paper plates
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  13. Miranda

    I absolutely agree with you. There is a time and place for disposable plates. I would love to use them at Thanksgiving, because it seems like I’m always the one that gets stuck with all the clean-up. Great idea!
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  14. Mary Collins

    In our family we always use disposables for the holidays. There is enough involved as it is. There is no need to add dishwashing to the list of things to do. Love the table!
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  15. aaronica (the crunchy mommy)

    best thing i’ve read all day… i HATE holiday dishes!!!
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  16. Lisa

    At first glance I would have never known these were plastic dishes. The table looks great and put together but easy to clean up.
    Go check out Lisa’s latest post! Create Fall Memories: How To Make Pressed LeavesMy Profile

  17. Rena McDaniel

    I’ve started doing this quite a lot. I have RA and sometimes it’s hard enough to cook much less do all of the dishes so disposable make it doable for me. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
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  18. Melanie

    We use disposable plates for parties and at Christmas.
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  19. robbie @ mom hats and more

    I struggle with this. Yes, I like convenience. But I think of all the garbage and waste especially at holiday dinners, and I wonder… ?

    However I also look at it this way: if you’re not disposable the rest of the year, it may not make a huge difference, you know?
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  20. Eileen

    That is a smart decision! Less time cleaning up means more time spent with the family. I love the color of the dinner plate. Looks elegant enough for a disposable!
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  21. nazma

    my mom would never go with these..But I will for sure lol

  22. Jeanine

    Thanksgiving is this weekend here, and disposable sounds like a fabulous option for me. I’m the one stuck washing dishes, so maybe I should be the one to say which type of dishes we end up using…. DISPOSABLE!
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  23. lisa @bitesforbabies

    I often go disposable…I HATE the clean-up after a large dinenr party. My husband begs to differ though!
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  24. Wildish Jess

    I would love the ease of disposable plates on holidays but its the only time I use real plates in our household! lol
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  25. ricci

    I can’t believe it’s already time to start thinking about Thanksgiving!! We switched to throwaway cups and plates a few years ago and it has been such a time saver!!
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  26. Deshawn Keiner

    Disposable dishware is a very great idea during holidays and family get together. It makes cleaning up very easy.
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  27. larissa

    Good idea, especially for the busy holiday! Thanksgiving is definitely a time to spend with your family and enjoy their presence, not so much for dishes so I think it is a great idea to use the plastic dishes. Thanks for sharing!

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