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How to Plan a Small Thanksgiving Dinner

How to Plan a Small Thanksgiving Dinner

Words Jane Chertoff

Your table may be smaller this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip the holiday dishes and traditions you love. 

Planning to celebrate Thanksgiving this year with a smaller group? A holiday celebration for two (or three or four) certainly won’t have all the pomp and circumstance of a large extended family gathering—but it can still be a nice chance to enjoy a delicious meal together and give thanks for all the sweet things in life. 

Of course, the logistics of planning a Thanksgiving dinner for a smaller group is a lot simpler than an elaborate feast. Here’s how to plan and prep for a small Thanksgiving dinner. 

roasted vegetables

1. Don’t buy a whole turkey (unless you really love leftovers) 

You can still enjoy some bird without purchasing a large or whole turkey. Consider instead getting a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast for the two (or three or four) of you. You’ll need about one to one and a half pounds of turkey per person (or a little more than that, if you want leftovers). It won’t take long to cook and you can still slice it on a carving board and enjoy it on sandwiches or in other leftovers. 

If turkey breast doesn’t appeal to you, you could alternatively serve turkey legs, a small roast chicken, or individual Cornish game hens. 

small Thanksgiving dinner - mashed potatoes

2. Stick to your favorite sides only 

Your usual Thanksgiving celebration menu probably involves a table full of side dishes—from cranberries to potatoes to mac and cheese to stuffing to green bean casserole. For a smaller holiday dinner, there’s no need to go all out with sides. Instead, choose two or three of your favorites.

Here’s how much food you’ll need for some of the most beloved Thanksgiving sides:

Mashed potatoes

About ½ to ¾ pound per person 

2 people: 1 to 3 pounds (about 4 large potatoes) 

4 people: 3 to 4 pounds (about 6 large potatoes) 

Stuffing

About ¾ to 1 cup per person  

2 people: 1.5 to 2 cups 

4 people: 3 to 4 cups 

Cranberries

About ½ to 1 cup per person 

2 people: 1 to 2 cups

4 people: 2 to 4 cups

Thanksgiving leftovers: stuffin' muffins

Or to make things even simpler, you can always skip the big side dish and make individual portions instead. That could mean serving everyone their own roasted potato or even cooking stuffing muffins in a muffin pan

Keep in mind, because it’s an unconventional year and you are cooking for a much smaller group, it’s a great time to try out a new recipe. 

3. Serve mini pies or tarts  

A whole pie can be a lot for two people to enjoy before it goes bad. For a smaller group, consider making individual pumpkin, apple, or pecan pies or tarts. You can use a muffin pan to help you create the perfect mini size dessert. Or you can always freeze any leftover desserts and enjoy them later. 

4. Enjoy having the leftovers all to yourself 

The best part about not hosting a large group for Thanksgiving might be that there’s no divvying up of the leftovers at the end of the meal. Instead, you can enjoy them all yourselves. So go ahead and feast on those turkey sandwiches without having to worry about how you’re going to feed or entertain the extended family for the rest of the weekend. That can wait until next year! 

Need more holiday cooking tips and tricks? Check out OXO Good Tips Blog.

small Thanksgiving

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