Thanksgiving for one (or two) can be just as festive as any big to-do. The key is scaling back but still making it special.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for family members to come together to enjoy a bountiful meal and each other’s company. It’s a time for celebration, relaxation, and good eats. But for some people, the thought of going home for the holidays is an absolute nightmare—or just not feasible. Maybe you’re living abroad and can’t afford the plane ticket, or you need a break from the inevitable family feud over politics. Perhaps you simply need a little “me time.”
Whatever the reason, you can certainly have a great Thanksgiving whether you’re flying solo or making it a couples thing. Here’s how.
Create a Game Plan
Just because you’re keeping it small doesn’t mean you can’t make your Thanksgiving meal special. Get some candles and flowers for the table and set it up to look inviting and cozy. Break out the good china and use serving dishes, if you have them. There’s nothing sadder than a holiday meal for one eaten right out of the cooking pot.
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Write up a menu and shop for your ingredients ahead of time. If you leave it until the day of, you might have to contend with long lines and empty shelves at the supermarket.
Consider preparing your ingredients and even doing your baking the night before. That way you can have more time to cook and enjoy your meal the following day.
If you’re horrified by the thought of not having roast turkey for Thanksgiving, you may be able to order a small turkey (10 pounds or less) through your local butcher or directly from a turkey farm. As an alternative, consider making Cornish game hens, turkey breast, turkey pot pie or, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, stuffed squash.
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Instead of making all the sides associated with this holiday, just pick your absolute favorites and either halve the recipe or freeze the leftovers. You might also look for a recipe that incorporates the main ingredients from several of your favorite dishes into one.
Looking for some inspiration? The following recipes can help you make the most of your solo Thanksgiving.
This recipe calls for four 1 ½-pound Cornish game hens, but you can certainly cut it in half to make two hens instead. The stuffing can be prepared a day in advance, and if you switch the currants out for cranberries, you can make it just right for the occasion. Get our Cornish Game Hens with Millet Stuffing recipe.
It doesn’t get more simple or straightforward than this. Seasoned with a paste made from olive oil, garlic, rosemary, fennel seed, and lemon, this recipe is easy to make but far from boring. You can even satisfy your craving to “carve the turkey” when you slice it up after roasting—and have some for sandwiches the next day. Get our Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast recipe.
For this recipe, you might want to make the dough and prep the veggies ahead of time so you have less work to do on Thanksgiving day. Once assembled, these pies freeze beautifully before baking. Get our Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pies recipe.
This dish combines two classic Thanksgiving foods, squash and stuffing, into one. You can either cut the recipe down by two-thirds or freeze the extra stuffed squash halves before baking. The recipe also calls for dried cranberries, so it’s perfect for this holiday! If you prefer to swap in a bread-based stuffing, you can do that too and freeze whatever doesn’t fit into the squash. Get our Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing recipe.
Another star-worthy squash preparation, this beautiful Hasselback butternut squash also happens to be vegan; it’s cooked with olive oil, maple syrup, and fennel, and topped with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Get the Hasselback Butternut Squash recipe.
Skip the marshmallow-topped casserole and candied yams for these rich, fluffy sweet potato biscuits, which you can slather with butter or use to sop up the juices of your main dish. These sunset-hued beauties make the perfect side for any autumn meal. Get our Sweet Potato Biscuits recipe.
Missing mashed potatoes? You can make a tiny batch and just eyeball the amount of butter and cream you need—or make a single baked potato and douse it in a small batch of gravy instead of the usual sour cream dollop on top. Get our Perfect Baked Potato recipe.
Every veggie can benefit from a little added umami. In this case, crisp-tender green beans are paired with smoked bacon and dressed in a simple vinaigrette that will lighten things up and bring some verdant color to the table. Get our Green Beans with Smoked Bacon recipe.
While it may not be traditional to make a chocolate dessert for Thanksgiving, this recipe has its benefits. You can make them individual soufflés that freeze well before baking (if there are any left over, that is). Get our Chocolate Soufflé recipe.
If it just wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, these individual flans make a great substitute. You could halve the recipe to make four instead of eight, but really—why would you want to? Get our Pumpkin Pie Flans recipe.
Related Video: Use Extra Cranberry Sauce to Make Sangria
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