Host a memorable small Thanksgiving dinner by following our turkey tips, Thanksgiving table setting ideas, and how to host a wonderful Thanksgiving – big or small!
As we embark and celebrate the new holiday season for this year, this guide to hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner will prepare you day-by day on which task to tackle leading up to the day of Thanksgiving.
Our recipes and utensils used are suggested to ensure that your Thanksgiving is seamless, memorable, and fun.
Let’s Start With The Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Our starting point for our Thanksgiving table is the Thanksgiving Centerpiece.
As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, the Turkey do not need to be the centerpiece of the table, it’s already the main course.
You’ll want your Thanksgiving table to be as fresh and inviting as possible. Opting in for a gorgeous floral arrangement do not need to be expensive.
Consider creating your own arrangements by visiting Walmart, Amazon, or the dollar store. Find ideas and beautiful flower colors that wrap your style, taste, and make it look like you’ve spent hours creating a masterpiece.
The perfect centerpiece is one that speaks to you.
When hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner, the Thanksgiving centerpiece is another thoughtful and charming piece to a perfect dinner.
Upon arriving to the table, your guest or family will not only notice the delicious food, but they will also notice the floral arrangement. This will make them feel loved, and that you’ve taken the time to go that extra mile especially for them. Something to be thankful for!
There are so many options to choose from when it comes to hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner. From centerpieces to plate settings. The options are limitless.
It is best to use what you already have in your home.
Getting Your Table Ready
Get The Thanksgiving Table Ready
The early you can start the better it will be for you, and equally as seamless. We recommend starting up to 5 days before Thanksgiving Day.
It might seem early, but it does help to have a lay out of your small Thanksgiving Dinner table, especially if you are hosting for the first time.
Prepare the dishes and the table linens as well as the napkins the 5 days early and check it from your list.
Consider laying your dishes out. This will allow you to see what you truly have and what needs to be purchased (if possible).
Laying your dishes out also help you to see which dish will be in which plate, bowl, dessert dishes, platters, etc.
Last but not list, you’ll see if everything fits on your table and be ready for your small Thanksgiving dinner. Put serving dishes ahead of time.
Here’s a quick guide of what to consider when laying out your dishes and getting your Thanksgiving table ready.
- Lay out all the serving dishes and utensils you’ll be using: This includes plates, placemats, silverware, serving utensils, wine glasses, bowls, roasting pans, dishes, etc.
- Consider labeling each item so you’ll know exactly what they’ll be used for. This will come in handy on Thanksgiving Day as you prepare for your small Thanksgiving dinner. It’s easy to miss or forget something, labeling your dishes ahead of time will help you stay organized and will be less of a hassle on the big day!
Let the decor be part of your table setting and use as napkin holders or rings.
Fall is all about embracing the warmth and coziness of the season, we recommend finding ways to include a warm feeling when setting up the Thanksgiving table.
Think of flowers, foods like pumpkins of various size, small butternut squash as part of the table décor or even in the surrounding counters, definitely include candles to bring in a dramatic effect and alure.
The Big Bird – Turkey Tips For Thanksgiving Day
If you’ve never made your own Thanksgiving turkey before, that’s not a problem. We have a selection of turkey dishes to choose from.
Head over to our best Thanksgiving Turkey Breast recipe here, Our Air Fryer Turkey Breast Here, which has received a lot of raves for very good reasons, or if you would prefer a whole turkey, consider this delicious and super moist Smoked Turkey.
If you don’t have a smoker, that’s fine, the recipe works well with roasting as well.
Advantage / Bonus: Our Turkey recipes are super easy to make. Not all require brining. All you’ll need is a little patience and time (as all turkeys do!).
HOW TO THAW A TURKEY?
Here’s a guideline to follow when thawing your turkey. Thanks, Butterball for this amazing quick cheat!
|Turkey Size:||In Refrigerator:||In Cold Water:|
|10 to 18 Lbs.||3 to 4 days||5 to 9 hours|
|18 to 22 Lbs.||4 to 5 days||9 to 11 hours|
|22 to 24 Lbs.||5 to 6 days||11 to 12 hours|
|24 to 30 Lbs.||6 to 7 days||12 to 15 hours|
Thawing a turkey take time and patience. A frozen turkey is a daunting block of ice that takes days to thaw.
METHOD 1: THAWING THE TURKEY IN THE FRIDGE
Thawing the turkey in the fridge is a long but safe process.
- It will take a frozen 3–4-pound turkey between 30-34 hours to thaw.
- It can take up to 3 days for an 11 lb. turkey to thaw out.
- As well as it can take a 15 -20-pound turkey up to 5 days to thaw out in the fridge.
METHOD 2: THAW TURKEY IN THE SINK
This is the fastest way to thaw the turkey. However, for safety reasons we prefer method 1. That way, if you are unable to cook the turkey right away after it has been thawed out, you do not risk the meat going bad and or becoming sick from mishandling the meat.
Cook Times For Turkey In The Oven
If you are wondering how long to cook turkey in the oven, here are some suggested times:
|10 to 18 Lbs.||3 to 3 ½ Hours||3 ¾ to 4 ½ Hours|
|18 to 22 Lbs.||3 to 4 Hours||4 ½ to 5 hours|
|22 to 24 Lbs.||4 to 4 ½ Hours||5 to 5 ½ hours|
|24 to 30 Lbs.||4 ½ to 5 Hours||5 ½ to 6 ¼ Hours|
Thanksgiving Menu For 2, 4, or 6: Planning
1 to 3 weeks before the big day, start planning your menu for your small Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s always best to start with planning out the “guest list”.
Once your list has solidified, make note of any food allergies. This will show to your guest that you have given much thought to the well-being of your guests, and they matter.
Here’s a quick guide to consider when planning out the Thanksgiving menu for 2, 4, or 6 people. If you are hosting up to 10 people for your small Thanksgiving dinner, double each recipe or dish.
- Prepare a guest list and send out the invites. This can be done via email, or if you want to elevate it a notch, a beautiful Thanksgiving Card will be a nice touch.
- If your guests are bringing any dishes, confirm the dish and allow room for those with food allergies; this way you’ll have a substitute of the dish.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seriously, hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner or a big Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful. Don’t hesitate or be embarrassed to ask for help.
You’ll find that people love to come together over food. Most of the time, they’ll be very happy to bring a dish or an appetizer.
- Write down exactly what you will be serving on Thanksgiving Day. This also goes together with table setting.
Make a list of items you’ll need from the local grocery store for each dish. Having a menu is very helpful and will help you see the “entire day” in advanced.
- Make sure you have enough Tupperware to hold leftovers, it’s okay to ask your guests to bring Tupperware with them too if they plan to take food home.
Plan time to clean and decorate the house. We recommend setting aside a day to clean at least 3 days before the big day.
This is also the time to declutter and make sure everything is in place.
Up to 3 days before the big day. Here’s what you should consider.
- House cleaning. Clean your house from top to bottom and make it has that warmth you are looking for. Hire help if necessary or if you can.
- Start setting the table with the centerpiece and candles.
- Arrange the seating. If you are serving kids, think of a kid friendly area or kids table, if possible.
- Decorate the table and home with seasonal décor. We often go to Home Goods, The Christmas Tree Shop, Target, or Walmart as they are great for finding gems and tend to inexpensive.
- Candles always add warmth. Consider adding candles on the table and around the house.
Stay away from fruity candles as it may clash with the food. However, candles like oak or pine are always a great option.
- Add some greenery. Although fall is about oranges and browns, and earthy colors. We tend to forget our green colors.
- Mix and match your décor with fall colors and green.
- Defrost your turkey. Follow the guidelines above to help you gage how much time is needed to defrost your turkey.
Baking & Prepping
Baking and prepping can take time. One of the best tips we have is to bake and prep ahead of time!
Pies will still be delicious straight from the fridge, and it will save you the hassle as well as oven space on the big day for your small Thanksgiving dinner.
Pre-chop the ingredients and place them in the fridge if you can. It will take a load off you on the big day.
Prepare the coolers to chill any drink, water, and kids’ juices.
Bake your pies ahead of time
Some of our favorite pies to try:
- Air Fryer Cheesecake, although it is not a pie, but it is good.
Pre-chop any ingredients that needs to be chopped; this includes your onions, garlic, and vegetables, place them in a container and store them for when ready to use.
If you run out of space in the fridge, consider adding the chopped ingredients in a cooler and top them with ice to keep them fresh.
Prep Your Dishes: One to Two Days Before Thanksgiving
With so much to do, it’s time to cook your side dishes. Although sides can take time to prepare and require less cooking time, preparing your side dish a couple days ahead of time will save you time and hassle for your small Thanksgiving dinner.
Here Are A Few Thanksgiving Side Dishes To Consider
Gravy To Consider:
Here are some guides to follow to make this process seamless:
- Prepare make-ahead side dishes, desserts, and appetizers.
- Set the table the night before. Including any final details!
- Iron out a timeline for when dishes will be placed on the table. If you are serving soups, this is also a great time to figure out the time the soup will be served.
- Schedule a time to bake the turkey. Follow the cooking guideline above.
- Remember each pound of turkey takes about 15-20 minutes, however, give yourself extra time just in case the turkey is taking longer. No two birds are the same.
- Put out the carving knives.
Thanksgiving Day: Final Touches & Enjoy!
The day to host your small Thanksgiving Dinner is here!
Congratulations, you’ve made it to this day, hopefully with ease and use the guidelines to help you prepare.
Now it’s time for you to take a breather. Prepare your outfit. Take the time to review and follow your timeline.
No need to stop now, you’ve worked so hard for this day, and you should be proud. Keep everything moving forward but be sure to take breaks as needed.
Ask for him if needed.
Get up early, exercise, have your coffee or tea. Eat a satisfying and delicious breakfast. You’ll need the energy as the day goes on.
Take the turkey out of the fridge to bring to room temp for 1-2 hours; keeping your timeline in mind.
Put turkey in the oven — allow yourself 45 minutes-1 hour of wiggle time for cooking. The Turkey will stay warm for a long time before you cut into it.
Take time to get ready for the day.
Bring out the appetizers and pies.
Bring your dishes to room temperature.
Bonus Tip: Warm your dishes in the oven between 170-200 degrees F. But keep an eye so they do not overheat.
Add any final touches as necessary.
Serve your meal and enjoy.
End the evening with a fun family game.
We would love to know which recipes you made from our site and how you set up the table for your small Thanksgiving dinner.
Also, we would appreciate if could give any of the recipes a star rating!