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Staying home this holiday? Thanksgiving can still be a celebration.
We don’t travel for Thanksgiving. Our closest family member lives a 12-hour drive away, and we don’t have the money to drop on airline tickets for such a short trip. Vacation days are precious, and my husband stockpiles them for longer trips rather than a day here or there. Sometimes it feels like we miss out on the quintessential Thanksgiving celebration. It’s just our family at the table now – slightly larger than in previous years, but still small enough that we don’t need the extra table leaf.
However, over the years I’ve come to realize how precious it is to have the holiday to ourselves. We can sleep late (or at least lounge all day in pajamas), have dinner whenever we want (I’m not a fan of huge midday meals), and no one will think twice if you decide to have a long afternoon nap (I mean, the baby is napping anyway, right?). Plus, it gives us the bonus option of a special breakfast before all the turkey hubbub settles in.
Having a small Thanksgiving can be a bit of a challenge if you’re used to the over-the-river-and-through-the-woods affair. Here’s how we get through it.
My husband loves turkey, but with only two adults, one kid, and one baby, it isn’t practical to cook a whole bird Even when factoring in leftovers, there’s just too much. Turkey breasts, Cornish hens, and quail are all more practical for smaller celebrations. And you won’t have turkey fatigue when you realize how much is still left three days later.
Skip the casseroles
Similarly, chances are you won’t need twelve servings of green bean casserole. If you must have green beans, steam and saute a small amount with butter and mushrooms, then top with crispy onions to serve. (The onions are the best part anyway, right?)
For smaller amounts of stuffing, make cornbread to go with a meal a few days before and save half the pan. Use half a pack of bulk Italian sausage or two links, uncased, and freeze the rest for using on pizza or adding to pasta sauce.
Nix the Dessert Bar
I know, it’s hard to think about Thanksgiving and not focus on all the pies, bars, and other desserts. And I know I can eat an entire pumpkin pie by myself – but should I? Recently I asked my Facebook fans if they would pick pumpkin or pecan, and most comments revealed they would do both. As hard as it is, choose just one pie for Thursday’s meal. You can always make your other favorites throughout December, and add a bit more festiveness to your regular meals. If you really can’t decide, there are special pie pans that allow you to make two kinds of pie at once.
Focus on family
No matter if you’re celebrating with your blood family or your chosen family, the holiday is not about whether the gravy is lumpy, not being able to find the perfect centerpiece, or finishing the day early so you can prepare for the No Holds Barred shopping that grips the country.
Grab some popcorn, stick in a movie, and use the family room for what it’s meant for.
Just in case you still don’t know what you’re making next week, here’s a few of my favorite dishes for the holidays.
- Orange Rosemary Roast Chicken
- Acorn Squash with Pomegranate Glaze
- Glazed Turnips
- Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Dried Figs
- Butternut Squash Pie
- Cheddar Crumble Apple Pie
- Pumpkin Jar Pies
Do you have a small Thanksgiving? Have any great tips to share?