Seasonal Sundays (Week 47) Thanksgiving for Two & Other Small Tables

Ah, 2020. You so do challenge us to re-think and outright re-invent our long-held holiday traditions. Inside you'll find 11 different strategies for creating big memories this year plus a collection of recipes especially suited for Thanksgiving for Two and other small tables. And K-I-L-L-E-R desserts! Because if we've earned anything in this mixed-up, frightening year (we're 38 weeks in by my count) ... it's memorable desserts.
Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays ...

My memory bank has sixty-something Thanksgiving blank spots. Let's say 15 are forgiven, after all, kids live the moment and move on. But that leaves 45-or-so Thanksgivings in my life and in truth, only two Thanksgivings longer ago than 2019 stand out.

Which Thanksgivings are so memorable, decades laters?

ONE YEAR Odds are, my mom and Nana (her mom) visiting from Winnipeg were stressed by kids underfoot in a small and inefficient kitchen. So Dad packed us into the station wagon and we headed for a nearby state park. Did we need hiking boots or trail maps? Nope, we just walked around and I still remember the crisp, late-November air and soaked feet when I under-estimated the distance to jump across a little creek. We had SO.MUCH.FUN. So much fun. The next year, Mom wanted to join the fun and so off we went. Was there a dinner that year too? I suppose but it wasn't the point.

ANOTHER YEAR I cooked Thanksgiving dinner by myself, at least that's what my memory says, inspired by a home ec class. Was mom hovering nearby as a safety net? Probably. Was it a complete food success? Probably not. But I do remember the pride in accomplishing something big, also Uncle Marv going on and on about the American Apple Pie. All those accolades? No wonder that all these years later, I'm still a pie baker.

So the point is not my Thanksgiving memories but to stimulate yours. Which Thanksgivings stand out?

And maybe you'll notice that, well, aren't Thanksgivings all kinda the same? nice and all but not especially memorable?

Maybe our Thanksgiving memory-building experiences could use a little shaking up?!

How're you creating Thanksgiving this year? There are no wrong answers, we live in the same country, we are surrounded by the same pandemic ... but after that, each of us gets to decide how to spend a mythic but still, just one day of the year.

About the Photo By Popular Request, a Little Insight into the Top Image: Missouri's leaf color is gone now, swept away by the week's wind and overnight storms. But the brilliant color of a single Japanese maple leaf framed by raindrops was so pretty and sent my mind to musing: There's a leaf's worth of clarity ahead, a few days perhaps, at most, what, a week? Further out, shapes and colors move and morph before our eyes but really there's no seeing into the future through the rain-smeared windshield. Sound like 2020?

Eleven 2020 Thanksgiving Strategies

  • IGNORE IT When you wake up on Thursday, pretend it's Friday or Saturday and go on about your Friday or Saturday business. Just skip Thursday entirely! Time-shifting is an age-old strategy for dealing with life difficulties. Remember, Thursday is just one day in a week and Thanksgiving is a single day in an entire year.

  • TURN IT INSIDE OUT You know how Jewish families go out/order in Chinese on Christmas? Me, I'd choose pizza or BBQ or a big pot of Gumbo with a Big Cajun Chopped Salad and maybe some Bourbon Pralines. But yeah, converting to an UN-Thanksgiving food-wise is intriguing.

  • MOVE OUT OF CHARACTER My husband and I have never-ever-before declared a pajama & Netflix binge day. Maybe this is our chance? Do something entirely new, something you'd never otherwise do. Maybe a spa day at home, lean eating and exercise and massages and long naps?

  • LEAN IN Maintain all the oldest family Thanksgiving traditions, whatever they are, but on the smaller scale that 2020 must-needs.

  • SMALLER & SIMPLER How about a Fast Roast Chicken, a couple of sides (think about Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole)!) and a killer dessert, maybe a mini Pumpkin Cheesecake?

  • EXPERIMENTAL Experimentation is for the cooks who feel kinda stuck making the same things over and over every Thanksgiving. Maybe this is the year to break out the cornmeal stuffing your relatives won't eat? Maybe this is the year you can happily ignore that nobody in the family except you likes mushrooms?

  • THANKSGIVING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ALL ABOUT THE FOOD Admittedly, I'm the first one to make family gatherings about the food, not about the family, not about the gathering. But maybe a memorable Thanksgiving 2020 is all about board games or a long hike or ... maybe with Turkey Nachos or piled-high turkey sandwiches or even Chicken Salad for Sandwiches on Soft Rolls for Sandwiches (NOLA-Style French Rolls)? You've gotta eat, right, but food doesn't have to be the main attraction.

  • COOK FOR OTHERS Maybe you have a friend or family member to share the cooking, maybe each cook contributing a specialty, then swap dishes? If the weather cooperates, my husband will smoke chickens for us to deliver to his local kids/families. I may send over rolls or a pie or ... who knows, maybe turkey cookies for the kids.
  • THANKSGIVING FOR TWO This year, many of us will sit down to small tables, even tables for two. My friend Ann says that her two 20-something sons schooling/working from home are thrilled to forgo the usual crowded FriendsGiving for Thanksgiving, just the four of them. It sounds memorable ...

  • SPLURGE A BIT! Always had a yen to buy some really good steaks? Order fresh lobster from Maine? (My husband surprised me with this for my birthday. Swoon ...) Or order an authentic New York style cheesecake? Go for it.

  • OUTSOURCE This week, the St. Louis paper listed more than 80 restaurants doing prepared to-go food for Thanksgiving, many in family-size servings. For a small group, even two, this can really work. Maybe just the turkey? Just the sides? Just the pies? A couple of years back, my husband and I headed out of town for Thanksgiving, I ordered dinner for 4 from Whole Foods for something like $50 for my elderly father and his caretaker. We were very happy to return home for lots of very good leftovers! Anyway ... outsourcing all/part of Thanksgiving just might be do-able.

  • PULL THE WOOL OVER YOUR OWN EYES Just ignore that covid isn't a wildly increasing threat and hold Thanksgiving as if it's 2019 or 2021 ... please, not this, not this.


Pick One is for those of us overwhelmed by life's unending choices. If that resonates, then check out this one recipe and then call it a day. It's one that I think could make the most difference, the one I hope will become a regular in your kitchen, as it is in mine.

Cranberry Walnut Bread ♥, special for the holidays, a barely sweet yeast bread studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.
  • THE RECIPE Cranberry Walnut Bread Special for the holidays, a barely sweet yeast bread studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Hot Cross Buns Sweet buns traditional for Easter

Thanksgiving: One Size Doesn't Fit All

Thanksgiving Recipes, Menus & More, organized for easy browsing & targeted searches ♥

My Best Advice for Thanksgiving? First, Make Soup!

My Chicken Noodle Soup ♥, meaty and noodle-y with a special technique to plump up just a few noodles. Low Carb. High Protein.

Need a Thanksgiving lifeline? Put on a pot of soup before you begin to cook. That way, once you've cooked 50 dishes and run the dishwasher 5 times and you're completely tuckered out, well, supper ... it's ready.

  • THE RECIPE My Chicken Noodle Soup The way I make it, meaty and noodle-y with just a few noodles.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Hamburger Soup A hearty soup with chunks of meat and a cornucopia of bright-colored vegetables.

Thanksgiving for Two & Thanksgiving for Small Tables

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast ♥ Easy Enough for Every Day, Special Enough for Occasions. Great for Meal Prep. Recipe, insider tips, nutrition and Weight Watchers points included.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple ♥, familiar ingredients somehow create unexpected layers of flavor and color. Festive for holiday buffets and tables.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin ♥, first roasted, then braised in cream or half 'n' half, turned dark and luscious. My favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts during cold weather but also a Thanksgiving favorite! Low Carb. Rave reviews!

Chilled Green Bean Salad with Rosemary & Garlic Oil, another healthy summer salad ♥ Vegan. Low Carb. WW Friendly.

Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) ♥ Dreamy. Heavenly. Ethereal. Addictive. Yes, it's that good.

2020 Just Might Call for At Least One Killer Dessert

American Apple Pie, a fall classic ♥, made from scratch with a flaky, tender double crust and piles of apple and cinnamon.
  • THE RECIPE American Apple Pie Savor every single tender, flaky apple bite.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Apple-Butter Pumpkin Pie Naturally sweetened apple butter and pumpkin purée in an easy press-in graham cracker crust.

Baked Apples, another time-tested recipe ♥, a fall tradition, simple and cinnamony with a luscious sauce.
  • THE RECIPE Baked Apples Fall's best apples baked in a warm apple-flavored browns-sugar sauce.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Cinnamon Apples Festive color for the holiday table.

Honey Pumpkin Pie ♥, sweetened with honey instead of processed sugar.
Pumpkin Cheesecake ♥, a real crowd pleaser, barely sweet with ginger-pecan crust and bourbon.

Fresh Cranberry Bars ♥, a chewy almost-blondie molasses and spice bar with bursts of juicy cranberry, topped with a scattering of sugar snow. No mixer required.
  • THE RECIPE Fresh Cranberry Bars A chewy almost-blondie molasses and spice bar with bursts of juicy cranberry, topped with a scattering of sugar "snow".
  • ANOTHER TAKE Snickerdoodle Bars Snickerdoodle flavors with the firm, chewy texture of blondies.

Cranberry Pudding with Butter Sauce ♥, a popular recipe from the 1950s and 1960s, a dense, moist cranberry cake served with a rich butter sauce.

Cranberry Linzer Tart ♥, an impressive European fruit tart, made easy with an almond press-in crust. No rolling!


Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash ♥ A Veggie Venture, just four ingredients, silky smooth and quite elegant.

Just Updated!

Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins ♥, healthy pumpkin muffins that stay fresh for days. Moist and spicy with great texture.

Sausage Stuffing (Turkey Dressing) ♥, my grandmother's recipe for sausage stuffing, just sausage, good bread, herbs and an egg-milk binding. Stuff a turkey with it or just bake in the oven.

Cauliflower Mac n Cheese with Ricotta ♥, baked in a no-cook pepper cream sauce with ricotta.

Pan de Muerto (Bread for Day of the Dead) ♥, the traditional bread from Latin America to communicate with loved ones who have passed on. Detailed instructions for all skill levels.

Text Me Back!

I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Pizza for the win!!!! My husband and I did that for years when we didn't live near family and had odd work schedules. Pizza on holidays is our tradition. Either take n bake or delivered. Yes we're lazy. But it tastes oh so good! And you don't tire of left overs because it's gone pretty quick. Not to mention little to no clean up. And we still do pizza, even if someone has made a more traditional meal. Is it ok to not really be a fan of turkey?


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna