thanksgiving for small groupsThanksgiving celebrations are often steeped in tradition, from the foods we eat, to what we wear, and whose flag football team we’re on. It’s difficult to implement new traditions to any holiday, though it seems this is especially true of Thanksgiving. Sometimes, you just have to try something new, because this year your situation is different. Maybe you won’t be going home this year, or you just want to have a small gathering of you and a few friends. This is the perfect time to begin new traditions, try new recipes, and not wear that wool suit just because you always have.


We’ve put together a few new traditions and recipes to make your small Thanksgiving Day celebration create big, lasting memories.


  1. Have Thanksgiving for supper. Thanksgiving dinner is traditionally in the early afternoon, because “dinner” used to be served around the middle of the day, and was the largest meal. This year, change your feast time to after 4pm, and allow everyone to arrive in time to catch the football game (or play one in the yard), have catch-up conversations, and just have a relaxed day. Bonus: they’ll polish off that veggie tray.
  2. Scale down the bird. You don’t need to cook a whole turkey for 4 or fewer people. Besides, the smallest turkey you’ll probably find at the store will be 10 pounds, which is way too much food for 2 or 4 people, including a week’s worth of leftovers. Try cooking something smaller, like a duck, turkey breasts, or a couple chickens. Count on needing 1 to 1 ½ pounds of meat per person. Check out the links to recipes below.
  3. Sleep in. Every year, across the country, people are up at 5am to get that turkey in the oven so it’s done in time. Since you’ve decided to cook a smaller bird, you won’t need to use your oven for 6 hours. So, sleep in, have breakfast in bed, or get up anyway and go for a morning walk. Just don’t preheat that oven.
  4. Go all out on breakfast. Since you’re sleeping in, and not having Thanksgiving dinner until supper time, have an indulgent breakfast. Really go all out. Try that hollandaise sauce recipe you’ve never gotten around to making, and put it on everything. Drink full-bodied coffee or tea. Stay in your pajamas. Read the paper. Take care of yourself, and your loved ones, today.
  5. Get artsy. Cover your table in butcher paper, then write the names of your loved ones who are missed, and the things you are grateful for. If you don’t have butcher paper, use an old sheet. If you don’t have an old sheet, use pieces of printer paper, and lay them out as placemats. Don’t forget the colorful crayons! It’s okay not to share what’s on your placemat.
  6. Make a toast. Let everyone make a toast. After you’ve written about your gratitude and your loved ones, toast the folks who are there with you. Let them know how grateful you are for them, and why. Just don’t toast with water.
  7. Savor the day. Take some time to really look around you. It gets hectic at large gatherings. There’s always a lot of noise and commotion. It’s often hard to gather your thoughts and REALLY be grateful because there’s so much buzzing going on. Plus, leaving a room full of people for some alone time can seem weird, so it’s hard to get away with. Since it’s just the 2 (or 4) of you, take a little time to just be.

In the spirit of new traditions, here are several recipes that you may not have associated with Thanksgiving.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa Stuffing

By Terra Walker


2 Butternut Squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 C. Quinoa

2 C. Vegetable Broth

1 Tbsp. Light Cooking Oil (olive, canola, etc.) or Butter

1 Medium Red Onion, diced

1 Red Delicious Apple, cored and diced

1/2 C. Dried Cranberries

1/2  Tsp. Marjoram

1/2 Tsp. Rosemary

Salt & Pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Cook quinoa in vegetable broth according to package directions

Heat oil or butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and cook about 5 minutes, or until translucent.

Add apple, and cook 5 minutes, or until onion is slightly brown and apple is soft.

Combine apple and onion mixture with quinoa, adding cranberries, marjoram, and rosemary.

Fill squash with mixture, packing in as much as you can, and allowing to overflow slightly.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake 40-50 minutes, or until squash flesh is fork-tender.


  • Serve any remaining quinoa stuffing as a side, or reserve for leftovers later in the week. It pairs well with the slow cooker cranberry sauce and crispy roasted duck.
  • If you like cheese, add smoked gouda to the stuffing with the cranberries and spices, and before packing it into the squash.

No matter if you’re having a meal for one or four this year, we hope these new traditions and delicious recipes add pizazz and make this your most memorable Thanksgiving yet.



thanksgiving for small groups
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