Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Ideas for Small Families
It seems easier to find all the right Thanksgiving recipes when you are planning a big meal for a large group, but what do you do when you have a small family or you’re planning a meal for just you and your husband this Thanksgiving? Check this list of Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas for small families, and discover how you can have an intimate day that is fun and memorable too!
First, don’t think of this as a day that you have to do something traditional. Instead, think of this time as a way to do something “special”.
When many moms are spending Thanksgiving morning basting some big turkey, you can spend time frying up some sweet smelling gingerbread pancakes topped with whipped cream topping and hot syrup and served with freshly cut pineapple which you have beautifully placed on an antique platter, dreamy new serving dish from the new department store in your neighborhood, or pretty little dinner plate you purchased from the dollar store the day before.
If gingerbread pancakes don’t do the trick for your family, how about serving up some kind of Paula Deen, Julie Child, or Rachael Ray breakfast dish, or you can bake a Mexican breakfast casserole you assembled the night before and placed in the oven Thanksgiving morning.
Monkey bread, those glorious sugar and cinnamon covered biscuit balls baked in a Bundt cake pan, smothered with brown sugar and butter can also be a nice start to a Thanksgiving day dinner for a small family, and if you keep left-overs of these scrumptious delights in baggies, you’ll be enjoying this special treat for breakfast for a few additional days too.
Any special recipe you have never made before or have only made on a few special occasions would be something you might want to consider for Thanksgiving morning.
Additionally, you can find a completely different special activity or event to do Thanksgiving morning. Since you don’t have a large crowd to prepare for, take the opportunity to get your family up to run or walk a 5K race in your town (make sure you tell them about this beforehand though, and complete any registrations necessary for a formal walk or run unless your just watching), or take some breakfast sandwiches to a nearby city park, enjoying a simple family walk in the morning air before or after you picnic in the cold weather.
Another idea might include planning a prayer and thanksgiving walk around your yard, neighborhood, or at some special indoor or outdoor place close to you. Cut some paper into pieces, and then, on each piece of paper, write something your family is, or should be, thankful for, or write a prayer request for a blessing you would like to ask God’s assistance with in the following year (like asking for grace to deal with a little baby and little sleep, sharing a problem or concern, asking for a new little baby in your lives someday, or requesting the knowledge of peace among the turmoil in your daily lives). Use this, or something like this activity, as a tool for a special Thanksgiving morning activity.
Whether you make Thanksgiving morning special by enjoying a new, creative breakfast recipe or creating a memorable family moment, start your Thanksgiving Day with something special that you can do as a small family or couple that is not burdened with the weight of traditional cooking for a crowd.
Another idea to remember when you have a small family and family holidays coming up is that you do not have to be “in the norm” to enjoy your Thanksgiving Day. You don’t have to serve the typical Thanksgiving dinner menu. Consider what recipes might be fun to try from Grandma’s old cookbooks you have in storage, or from a book or magazine you have looked at while sitting in the coffee shop in your local bookstore or from recipes you found online.
If you want a traditional Thanksgiving meal but don’t need the big turkey, find a recipe for turkey breast or turkey cutlets. Try baked or deep fried, breaded turkey cutlets which remind your little ones of chicken nuggets, and serve with honey mustard sauce and sweet potato fries.
There are even many great turkey breast recipes you can make in the slow cooker.
If you feel you can stretch your comfort zone, consider something completely different or something you have always wanted to do but have never done before. New recipes, old fashioned recipes, southern recipes, New England recipes, French recipes, easy Thanksgiving recipes, and even funny looking recipes Thanksgiving recipes for kids are all acceptable for family holidays eating!
Another idea might be to plan a family work day to start or complete special lawn and garden projects around the home or to build something fun like a bench or pavilion, following that by barbecuing cranberry turkey burgers on the grill. The idea here would be to simply do something different, something fun, or something special to enjoy your dinner with your family, no matter how big or how small.
While tradition is nice, don’t let it dictate your loved ones or your time with them. Find what makes sense to your family and what you all would enjoy for a special time together, and you’ll find the perfect Thanksgiving dinner menu for you!
As an additional note, short Thanksgiving vacations or a family outing can be a great, small family alternative to traditional family holidays at home. An overnight stay at a nearby bed and breakfast or nice hotel can be a nice way to have some Thanksgiving fun, and most larger hotels have nearby restaurants that will be open for Thanksgiving dinner. You might consider checking in on Thanksgiving Day, having dinner at a local restaurant, topping the night off with a movie you’ve wanted to see but could never find the time to go, and then checking out the next day to do some serious nearby Christmas shopping or attend a community Christmas event.
Having a small family to cook for can provide a great opportunity to have another kind of Thanksgiving fun if you are not afraid of new, contemporary ideas for your family.
Then, aside from the fun (or event)… (or peaceful day of rest and relaxation)….
What are some of the things to cook for a small family on Thanksgiving?
Here are some examples of new and fun Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas that work great for a small (or large) family that wants to spend more time doing things than just cooking all day:
- Turkey Nuggets with Sweet Potato Fries, a Fruit Craft, and Pumpkin Bars
- Grilled Turkey Legs, Lasagna Roll-Ups, Fresh Cut Green Beans with Bacon, and a Cranberry Orange Smoothie for Dessert
- Turkey Meatloaf, Glazed Carrot Casserole, Pumpkin Biscuits, and Date Nut Cookies
- Cheese Ball with Ham and Pecans with Whole Wheat Crackers, No Grain Mini Spinach Quiches, Trail Mix with Pumpkin Seeds, and Jello Jigglers
- Homemade Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans on Whole Wheat Pita, Butternut Squash Soup, and Apple Pie with Homemade Ice Cream
- Vegan Alfredo Sauce with Zucchini Noodles, Sweet Potato Banana Muffins, Red Beet Salad, and Raw Chocolate Cranberry Bars
- Smoked Cornish Hens, Baked Corn Casserole, Oven Roasted Asparagus, and Pecan Pie in Mason Jars
Finally, keep remembering family members above family holidays, both before and on this special day. There may be some rewards from slaving over a stove to master some big holiday feast for 25 people or a crowd of six kids or so, but no big turkey or fantastic sweet potato recipe is ever going to be as important as that loved one that is sleeping next to you or in the bedroom down the hall. If you have someone special enough that you have taken the time to research and think about what you can do to make their holiday a special time, then you already know the best part of family holidays is the FAMILY.
Your family members are the most important ingredient, besides the All Mighty God Himself, that you could put into any Thanksgiving Day celebration, traditional, contemporary, small, large, or otherwise, so whatever you do, make sure your Thanksgiving dinner menu ideas focus on the ones sitting across from you at your kitchen table.
13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. -2 Corinthians 9:13-14 (NIV)