6 Simple Steps to Host Thanksgiving for Two

Welcome to micro-Thanksgiving: a smaller, simpler, equally-filling affair. 

If you want to downsize your Thanksgiving celebrations 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 outdoors, solo, or with a partner, the feast can still be indulgent, over-the-top, and delicious. Plus, you'll enjoy the added benefit of no nagging distant relatives. Don't be afraid to go all out for your micro-Thanksgiving this year, whatever that means to you. Here's how.

Micro Thanksgiving Ideas

01 of 06

Embrace the smaller dish sizes.

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.

02 of 06

Prep early and efficiently.

An entire feast for two is still plenty to prepare, especially if you don't have help. 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.

Because it's just you, consider mixing your prep work into your Thanksgiving week meal plan. Can you make a spinach salad one day and prep the creamed spinach that afternoon? 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.

03 of 06

Make the whole turkey optional.

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.

04 of 06

Outsource 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 deep-fried turkey from Louisiana or Southern-style mac and cheese from Nashville's Loveless Cafe.

05 of 06

Consider alternative proteins.

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 oversize 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.

06 of 06

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 individual serving of corn pudding.

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