If you are hosting a Thanksgiving for two this year, your feast may look different than if you had to host your entire extended family. But there's still plenty to celebrate regardless of your party size. Whether you're doing the holiday solo, or with a partner, the feast can still be indulgent, over-the-top, and delicious. Don't be afraid to go all out for your micro-Thanksgiving this year, whatever that means to you. Read on for our best tips on how to throw the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner perfect for a pair.
Don't Cook the Whole Turkey
No hard and fast rule that says you need to cook an entire turkey on Thanksgiving, especially if you just don't want to. Why bother? Instead, take the day to focus on one complicated cooking project, like nailing the perfect pumpkin pie, and then consider cooking a smaller turkey or just the turkey legs, drumsticks, or breasts.
Embrace Smaller Dishes
Not only does a giant bowl of cranberry sauce or an enormous tray of stuffing not look the most appealing (passed around a table or on Insta), but these oversized side dishes are overkill when you're serving Thanksgiving for two. Instead of whipping up a whole batch of sides, cut the recipe in half or in quarters.
If the recipe requires baking, here's your time to shine! Use ramekins, mini pie tins, small Bundt cake molds, or other small oven-proof dishes to create single-serving sides (like mac and cheese, creamed spinach, mini pies, or green bean casserole). They look super cute, too. Pop them in the oven as needed, or even freeze some for a fresh holiday meal whenever you want.
Prepare Early and Efficiently
An entire feast for two is still plenty to prepare. If you want to enjoy the benefits of a multi-course Thanksgiving spread, make a game plan and stick to it. List all the dishes you want to eat on Thanksgiving Day and start chopping ingredients, prepping proteins, and mixing stuffing early on in the week. That way, when the holiday comes, you can relax more and work less.
Consider mixing your prep work into your Thanksgiving week meal plan. Can you roast some sweet potatoes for a grain bowl and mash the rest as a Thanksgiving side? Is the grain from your rice bowl a good stuffing addition? Be strategic, and look for ingredients that can do double duty to limit waste and your kitchen workload.
Consider Outsourcing the Cooking
If you don't feel like cooking on a weekday holiday, you have plenty of other fuss-free options. Several restaurants around the country offer catering and takeout, and this time of year is certainly an excellent opportunity to share your gratitude for a local chef by purchasing food from them (tip well, it's a holiday!).
Several Thanksgiving meals as well as components are also available online. Homesick? Order some regional specialties, like spicy Cajun fried turkey from the Cajun Turkey Company in Dallas, TX, or Southern mac and cheese from Nashville's Loveless Cafe.
Choose an Alternative Protein
Maybe you decided to cook a smaller turkey, but why should your Thanksgiving table always include a turkey? Sure, a sense of normalcy can be comforting, but maybe now's the time to create new traditions that will resurface in the future.
Meat eaters can consider swapping out an oversized bird for individual cornish hens, a roast duck, or the turkey pieces mentioned above. You can also swap out poultry and splurge on another luxury meat, like lamb shanks, filet mignon, or a nice veal chop. Lobsters? Why not! Wagyu steak? You deserve it. Consider making a whole fish your Thanksgiving signature.
Limit to a Few Sides
While we suggest cutting recipes in half, we also recommend limiting the amount of side dishes you make. Start by figuring out what side dish you and your loved one can't go without on Thanksgiving. Just one or two sides should be enough for two. Plus, you'll want to save room for dessert (ahem, pumpkin pie!)
Make Thanksgiving Breakfast or Brunch
Want to go a different route than Thanksgiving dinner? Try making a Thanksgiving brunch! Nothing is better than pancakes, bacon, and eggs – or try your hand at a sunny-side-up sheet pan breakfast if you want something a little fancier. Instead of worrying yourself over an entire Thanksgiving dinner, brunch is a less stressful option. If you'd still like a traditional Thanksgiving meal, try getting a reservation for that evening in advance, or order in advance from a restaurant.
Share Your Leftovers
Not sending guests home with doggy bags may just feel wrong, but that doesn't mean you can't share your extra food. See if anyone in your community may need a hot meal on Thanksgiving – essential workers, unhoused people, and busy or sick neighbors may appreciate an unexpected holiday delivery.
Drop off goody bags for close-by friends and family, or consider purchasing dry ice at a local ice cream shop to overnight your homemade specialties to a distant loved one on Friday morning. They'll never forget the Saturday they unboxed a chilled homemade turkey leg and an individual serving of corn pudding.
This article was written by Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.