Over the years my husband and I have missed our fair share of large family gatherings around the holidays. He worked as a paramedic for a few years with very odd hours and I worked in retail for a good long while too. As anyone who has held either of those jobs (or similar ones) will tell you, people don’t stop getting sick or injured just because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, and business does anything but slow down on Black Friday. Because of our strange work schedules, we often found ourselves home alone for the holidays. This was especially true during the years when we lived 4+ hours away from most of our family and friends, making it impractical to travel such a distance and head back home the same night. (No Black Friday’s off in this house!)
But being alone didn’t mean we didn’t want to celebrate and enjoy the same foods and traditions we were used to. During the years when we couldn’t be with family we made an effort to host our own little Thanksgiving and Christmas meals just the two, three or four of us depending on the year. 🙂
With the holidays fast approaching and many families choosing to have far smaller than usual get togethers this year due to the pandemic, I thought I’d share some quick tips for hosting a Tiny Turkey Day with you!
Tips for Hosting a Tiny Turkey Day:
1. Embrace That Things Are Weird This Year
Hey, if it stresses you out to have to do all of the cooking for the holiday don’t do it! Consider ordering takeout instead. We all know how much small businesses and restaurants are suffering right now. Why not help out your local economy and have the chance to relax and actually enjoy yourself in the mean time? Lots of restaurants will have Thanksgiving offerings this year and many grocery store chains offer catering options. Heck, you could even order some kind of ethnic food if it strikes your fancy! You make the rules!
If you still feel like cooking this year, remember:
2. It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
Okay, so your sweet potato casserole is not exactly on par with Grandma’s… who cares?! This is the year of everybody just doing the best they freaking can okay? Cut yourself some slack for Pete’s sake. Ask grandma for the recipe and do your best, or if you live close enough, maybe she can make one for you and drop it off on the porch?
Maybe the grocery store was out of whole turkeys? Grab a turkey breast or a ham instead. Sometimes you just have to make do and that’s okay.
3. Focus On The Favorites
Ask each family member what their favorite holiday food is and try to make it if you can. As long as you’ve got the favorites on hand, everybody will be sure to be happy with at least one thing on their plate! The rest as they say, is gravy. 😉
4. Prep As Much As Possible Ahead Of Time
One of the major disadvantages of having a holiday meal without extended family is that there’s nobody to bring a dish to pass! If you’re still planning on making a big meal but don’t want to do everything all in one day (and who does!), consider making one or two side dish(es) or dessert(s) every day leading up to the holiday. Things like pies and casseroles keep pretty well in the fridge or freezer and can be reheated the day of. (Just be sure to remember to take them out of the freezer the night before!)
You could also consider substituting something you usually make from scratch for store bought this year to make things a little easier on yourself. Stove-top stuffing or pre-made pumpkin pie anybody? I’m not mad at it!
If you’re only feeding just a few people rather than a whole crowd and are worried about ending up with mountains of leftovers that may never get eaten, cut your recipes at least in half. Consider buying just a turkey breast rather than a whole bird or roast a whole chicken instead. Make the kids do the recipe conversions and call it their math lesson for the day. Just be sure to go back and check or you might end up with extra salty stuffing or really runny gravy. 😉
6. Keep It Relaxed And Easy
Our family usually likes to dress up for the holidays. Maybe this year, we won’t even change out of our PJs and just be comfortable and watch movies all day long. Who cares right!? And nobody says you have to eat at a certain time either! Don’t rush around like crazy trying to have your meal ready at a certain time. When the food is done, you eat. Have a few snacks on hand for complainers and keep the wine a-pouring for the adults!
I hope you all have wonderful, healthy, happy, and stress-free holiday season! Embrace the weirdness and love each other!