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How To Plan A Small Thanksgiving Dinner For A Cozy Family Of Four (Or Two!)

by Fariya Khan
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potato salad

While your table may look smaller in size this year, it doesn’t have to be small on festiveness. Planning a holiday dinner for a small group can be just as special as a feast for 12, with plenty opportunity to thank all the little blessings in life. Not to mention, the logistics behind planning a small Thanksgiving dinner can be so much simpler. But when you are used to prepping a large dinner, it can be quite confusing to divvy up quantities.

So, if you’re looking to downscale this Thanksgiving, (or looking to nurture some new traditions), here are some ideas to help with your small holiday dinner!

Small Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Dress That Table Up

small Thanksgiving dinner

There was a meme going around about how you don’t have to bother with the cleaning this year, as nobody’s going to be visiting. Very funny. For real, pull out the special décor, the candlesticks, the table scape and all. Put on that playlist. Go for that eye-catching centerpiece to make your small Thanksgiving meal all the more festive.

Keep The Dinner Bird, Small (Unless You Can Deal With A Week’s Worth Of Leftovers)

Turkey for dinner is a tradition you may not want to forego; you don’t even have to. You can still enjoy some bird without buying a whole turkey. A turkey breast, bone in, skin on will be perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner for two. Or four. I usually go with about 1 – 1.5 pounds per person. It cooks fast and leftovers is easy to manage. A small roast chicken, or turkey legs are also good alternatives to the traditional whole turkey.

turkey leg

A time-saving option would be to purchase a fully prepared turkey that goes straight into your oven.

Make an effort to shop local and talk to local butchers. It’s a wise idea to put money back into the local economy, which everyone needs right now desperately. Also, don’t be afraid to spend more at a local butcher, because you’ll get better quality than a big store.

Don’t Go Overboard With The Sides

Yes, its best to limit sides to only the favorite ones for a small Thanksgiving dinner. It doesn’t mean they are any less flavorful. We’ve got an entire column dedicated to recipes, that don’t skimp on the luxury, thanks to our in-house chef, Ben.

These zucchini fritters are an easy and interesting side you can choose or the savory sautéed green beans with shallots and bacon, which are my personal favorite.

For mashed potatoes, think before you make a huge batch for a smaller scale holiday meal. In my opinion, you need about ½ pound per person.

2 people: 1 to 1.5 pounds (about 3 large potatoes)

4 people: 1.5 to 2 pounds (about 4 large potatoes)

This Potato salad is a fresh new take on the traditional thanksgiving sides.

Looking for gluten free thanksgiving sides? These Savory braised carrots are for you!

braised carrots

To make things easier, you can pre-make some easy thanksgiving side dishes and serve them cold. Hummus and dips are a good option.

The idea is to keep the sides classic and minimal, to avoid wastage and extra work.

Cheese boards are the new and unique Thanskgiving side dish, Casero has some stunning cheeseboards, you can pre order them here.

Serve Small Sized Desserts

A whole pie can be too much for two people, instead opt for individual desserts, that you can serve easily and that store well.

traditional thanksgiving dessert

Oh well, who said you can’t store a full-sized pie?

Traditional Thanskgiving desserts like this pumpkin pie and  pecan pie by Chef Ben are always winners.

Choose a dessert like these fudgy brownies that is well liked by all in your lil circle and won’t take a lot of effort.

thanksgiving desserts

If you choose to go the nontraditional way, you can always whip up simple but festive desserts like Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Orange marbled Bundt Cake, or even a pineapple upside down cake, the options are endless.

Make It Special With Your Own Small Thanksgiving Dinner Traditions

Thanksgiving is one of my top holidays because it’s far from materialistic. It’s about families sharing a table and breaking bread. Read here how you can bond with your kids this holiday.

This year, Thanksgiving is ‘choose-your-own-adventure’. Make your own traditions. Teach your children the value of giving back to the community. Here are some great initiatives to help you help others.

give thanks

Send out gifts that really show your love for your extended family, your friends and your loved ones. I have a specially crafted Thanksgiving Gift Guide that will do just that.

A small Thanksgiving family dinner doesn’t have to be any less wonderful. It still calls for plenty of delicious food, family bonding, and, of course, the best pair of stretchy pants you own.

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