Thanksgiving Weekend Survival Guide


Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 23 this year, and the long weekend could include houseguests, Black Friday shopping and lots of time to fi ll. What to do? Between leftover turkey, movies and pre-Christmas festivities, you’ll have a great time with your loved ones without enough downtime to allow loaded subjects to come creeping in. Good news: Nothing on our list involves politics.

Chef Evan Elsberry, owner of Evan’s Kitchen in East Sacramento, shares two of his favorite leftover T-day turkey dishes.

Leftover Turkey and Ham Casserole
Serves 4–6

  • 8 ounces mini fusilli, macaroni or other pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 21/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 cups diced turkey
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots


  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water following package directions. Drain and rinse; set aside.

Heat butter in a large skillet and sauté the onion and celery over medium-low heat until softened.

Add ham and stir in flour until well combined. Gradually stir in the cream until thickened.

Add marjoram, sage, salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese, turkey, peas and carrots. Add the cooked pasta and blend thoroughly. Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle over the top of casserole.

Bake 25–30 minutes, until bubbly and topping is brown.


Turkey Leftovers Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 4–6

  • 3 cups cooked stuffing
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce, plus more for topping (optional)
  • 1 pound roasted turkey, sliced
  • 10 ounces glazed carrots (or other leftover vegetable)
  • 1 cup turkey gravy
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease an oven-safe baking dish. Spread the stuffing evenly in the bottom of the dish, then layer with cranberry sauce, turkey and carrots. Drizzle with gravy; spread potatoes over surface to sides of dish. Top with more cranberry sauce, if desired.

Place pie in oven and bake until heated through and potatoes are golden, 35–40 minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving.

Doing good feels better than just eating good. Here are a few places seeking volunteers to help serve or disperse food for the Thanksgiving holiday. Word to the wise: Check out the websites well in advance in case volunteer registration or orientation is required.

Loaves & Fishes
Loaves & Fishes serves the largest community meal in the region, feeding some 1,000 people on Thanksgiving Day, and seeks donations and volunteers to make it happen.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
Run to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving morning benefits SFBFS; the organization distributes turkeys, hams and sides the Monday before Thanksgiving. Sign your family up to come out and do some heavy lifting.

Davis Community Meals
Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, one of the three days a week Davis Community Meals provides dinners. A full feast is served at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Davis, and in previous years, live music has been part of the fun.

Twin Lakes Food Bank, Folsom
The Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning benefits Twin Lakes, and volunteers are needed. Additionally, on Monday, Nov. 20, Twin Lakes will give out turkeys and trimmings to people in the Folsom, Granite Bay and El Dorado Hills region. Last year, more than 600 families were served.

It doesn’t (usually) snow in Sacramento, but the family can still enjoy ice skating

at any of the area’s outdoor rinks, open at least through early January.

  • Downtown Sacramento Holiday Ice Rink, Seventh & K streets
  • Folsom Historic District’s Magical Ice Rink
  • Holiday Ice Rink at Westfield Galleria at Roseville
  • Iceland, North Sacramento
    • *If it’s raining: Roseville’s Skatetown has two indoor rinks.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the switch gets thrown on Old Sacramento’s holiday tree, and the balconies twinkle to life with thousands of lights.

Most area golf courses are open on Thanksgiving Day, which will give you at least one way to kick your cousin’s keister before dinner.

  • Alister Mackenzie Golf Course at Haggin Oaks
  • Ancil Hoff man Golf Course
  • Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course
  • Bing Maloney Golf Course
  • Bradshaw Ranch Golf Course
  • Campus Commons Golf Course
  • Cordova Golf Course
  • Del Paso Country Club
  • Teal Bend Golf Club
  • William Land Golf Course

can of food

Bring a canned food item and gain free admission to Fairytale Town on Friday, Nov. 24. The day includes park play plus arts and crafts and performances by Puppet Art Theater Co. Weather permitting.

Eating Out on Thanksgiving

Cooking a full Thanksgiving meal can be a lot of work—and an even bigger mess to clean up. Several restaurants in the Sacramento area will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner this year:

  • The Porch Restaurant and Bar: Starts serving dinner at 1 p.m. 1815 K St.
  • The Firehouse Restaurant: Open 1 p.m.–8 p.m. Reservations required. 1112 Second St.
  • Seasons 52: Open 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Reservations recommended. 1689 Arden Way
  • Rio City Cafe: Open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. 1110 Front St.
  • II Fornaio Sacramento: Open 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Reservations recommended. 400 Capitol Mall
  • Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse: Open noon–8 p.m. Reservations required. 501 Pavilions Lane
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse: Open 5:30–10 p.m. Reservations recommended. 621 Capitol Mall

No Turkey For Me
For those looking to really switch things up this year, the Sacramento Vegetarian Society is yet again hosting its annual Un-Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner. Join in on a tradition dating back to 1987 by bringing a vegan holiday dish that serves six to eight people. The event is zero-waste, which means you should also bring your own serving utensils and place settings. The location of the potluck has varied year to year, including Camp Pollock, located on the north bank of the American River, and Southside Park Cohousing on T Street. This community potluck is the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people and taste new foods. For more information, contact SVS president Glenn Destatte at

Riding the Rails
If you’re looking for a datelike experience this Thanksgiving, try the Sacramento RiverTrain. The ticket price includes your own designated table, where you will be greeted with a sparkling-wine toast as you board. Between courses of traditional turkey dinner, feel free to roam through the open-air cars and enjoy the beautiful fall colors of the Yolo County Wildlife Refuge. For times and prices for the three-hour train ride, check for details.


Watch the 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (6–9 a.m., KCRA 3)
Tune in to one of three NFL games (starting at 9:30 a.m.)

  • Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions at 9:30 a.m., FOX40
  • Los Angeles Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys at 1:30 p.m., CBS13
  • New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins at 5:30 p.m., KCRA 3

Grocery/drugstores stores open on Thanksgiving Day:

  • CVS
  • Rite Aid
  • Save Mart
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Lights, Camera, Movies

Lights! Camera! Movies!
The titles hitting the big screen this holiday season

“Thor: Ragnarok”—Winning a gladiatorial contest against his former ally, The Incredible Hulk, is the only thing standing between Thor and his home.

“A Bad Moms Christmas”—The pressure’s on for moms Amy, Carla and Kiki, who are feeling overburdened and underappreciated as they prepare to create the perfect holiday for their families.

“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”—A stubborn liberal lawyer is forced to take over a corrupt law firm after its front man has a heart attack.

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” An accomplished surgeon takes in a troubled teen, whose sinister actions force the doctor to make a major sacrifice.

“Murder on the Orient Express”—A luxurious train ride turns deadly after a mysterious murder. One detective must find out which of the 13 passengers is the killer before he or she strikes again.

“The Star”—An animated retelling of the first Christmas from the view of a small but brave donkey named Bo, who travels with his friends Ruth the sheep, Dave the dove and some comedic camels.

“Daddy’s Home 2”—Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad have gotten over their past differences and are eager to give the kids the best Christmas ever. But then family comes to town.

“Justice League”—Batman and Wonder Woman team up in this superhero-packed flick to save the planet from impending doom.

“Wonder”—Auggie’s been homeschooled all his life, but today is the first day of fifth grade and he’s going mainstream.

“Death Wish”—In this reimagining of the 1974 thriller, Dr. Paul Kersey serves his own justice when he hunts those who attacked his wife and daughter.

“Coco”—Miguel dreams of becoming a musician, despite his family’s ban on music. He gets stuck in the Land of the Dead and gets help from his late family and a charming skeleton.

”Molly’s Game”—This movie tells the true story of pro skier-turnedhigh-stakes poker coordinator Molly Bloom and an investigation involving celebrities and the Russian mob.

“Just Getting Started”—A petty rivalry between ex-military operative Leo and retirement resort manager Duke is cut short when mobsters from Duke’s past show up.


The following local coffeehouses are open on Thanksgiving Day (and the rest of the weekend).

  • Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters
  • Coffee Works
  • Identity Coffees
  • Old Soul at The Weatherstone
  • Philz Coffee
  • Temple Coffee Roasters
  • The Mill
  • Tupelo Coffee & Roasting

The Polar Express train will be in town Nov. 24–26 at the California State Railroad Museum. See for more information.

With lights, special effects, carnival rides, live entertainment and more, Global Winter Wonderland takes over Cal Expo through the holiday season. It’s a perfect reason to get out of the house on Thanksgiving weekend.

For details, see the Calendar of Events on page TK

  • “Kings of America,” Sacramento Theatre Company
  • “Music of Prince,” Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera
  • “A Charlie Brown Christmas LIVE!,” Harris Center
  • “You Can’t Take It With You,” Sutter Street Theatre
  • “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Davis Musical Theatre Company
  • “Silent Sky,” Big Idea Theatre
  • “It’s a Wonderful Life, the Musical,” Woodland Opera House

Apple Hill, that is, where Christmas tree cutting is in full swing and homemade pies await. Visit for more information.

calorie burning

Participate in a local 5K/10K walk/run on Thanksgiving morning.

  • Run to Feed the Hungry (Sacramento)
  • Turkey Trot (Roseville and Folsom)
  • Turkey’s Revenge (Granite Bay)

Going to the Sacramento Zoo is always a good family activity, especially during cool weather when the animals are out and visible. It’s closed Thanksgiving Day but open the rest of the week 10 a.m.–4 p.m.