What to Serve on Thanksgiving for Visiting Family

2020 has certainly been an interesting year, and, while not everyone may be planning on hosting a large party for Thanksgiving, even preparing a Thanksgiving spread for a small crowd can be a challenge. Whether your gathering is small or large, the perfect Thanksgiving meal starts with figuring out just how much food you need to purchase and cook for your guests. If you just aren’t sure what that amount needs to be, lean on this handy guide can assist. With quick and easy tips to help you plan how much food you need to make; this guide can help ensure your Thanksgiving is a success!


Deciding How Much Turkey to Make for Thanksgiving


The turkey is often the quintessential main for most families’ Thanksgiving, so when it comes to planning your Thanksgiving meal, make sure you plan correctly. Fortunately, choosing the right size turkey to accommodate your guest list is pretty straightforward. If you are expecting five people, you will likely want to opt for a 6-7 pounds of turkey breast. That will leave plenty for seconds and leftovers for the next day. For larger parties of around ten people, you will want to upgrade to a 12- to 14-pound turkey. Finally, if you are planning on hosting a large Thanksgiving of twenty or more, be sure to hunt down a 24- to 28-pound turkey or plan on preparing two 12- to 14-pound turkeys.


Do You Need Appetizers for Thanksgiving?


While not required, appetizers can be a nice addition for guests as you finish preparing the main course meal.


That said, when it comes to Thanksgiving appetizers, you want to keep it light. That means at least one “green” or vegetable-based snack to help hold people over. Traditional options like a dip are probably your best bet because it is easy to share, and you can provide a variety of chips, crackers and vegetables for guests to dunk. Perennial favorites include options like spinach and artichoke dips, but if you are looking for something a little different and perhaps healthier, consider a hummus flavored with avocado or jalapeno.


What to Serve on Thanksgiving Besides Turkey


When choosing your Thanksgiving sides, balance is key. While Thanksgiving tends to be full of rich and filling comfort foods, you don’t want to go too heavy on the starches. Ideally, your meal should include a green salad, a starch, a vegetable and a dessert to balance out the meal. The more people you are hosting, or the more diets you need to accommodate, the more sides you will want to serve, but whether it is 3 side dishes or 15, the general rule of thumb of one starch to two non-starches should apply.


Still at a loss for exactly what sides to serve? Make a trip to your local farmer’s market and take advantage of the seasonal flavors. You should be able to find plenty of fresh brussels sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes, greens and apples that can bring the feelings of fall into your meal. Plus, in-season produce tends to cost less than out of season, so you save a little money in the process.


In terms of prep, you can also save yourself a little time by simply roasting or sautéing vegetables. Not only will it bring out their natural flavors and require minimal work on your part, but it is typically healthier as well. Remember that the side dishes don’t have to be complicated or full of sauces. Fall provides plenty of great flavors for you to work with during Thanksgiving.


Best Wines for Thanksgiving


While certain wines pair better with specific proteins and vegetables, choosing the best wine for Thanksgiving often comes down to personal preference. For dinner, avoid anything too sweet that may compete with the flavors of the meal. Instead, opt for varieties that enhance the flavors of what you already have on the table.


Red wine lovers’ best wines for Thanksgiving will likely be Malbec, Syrah or Zinfandel while white drinker may lean towards Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Viognier. Provide a few options of your best wines for Thanksgiving, and watch the good times roll. Just be sure to have enough bottles on hand. As a rule of thumb, you will want around four bottles for every five adult guests.


Thanksgiving Desserts


When picturing Thanksgiving desserts, your guests are probably going to be looking forward to some classic pumpkin, apple, pecan and sweet potato pies. There is nothing wrong with going traditional with your dessert choices, especially because these Thanksgiving staples reflect the flavors of the season, but, if you want to mix it up, there are plenty of other options for Thanksgiving dessert.


Stick with the idea of fall flavors with choices like baked apples, apple cobbler, pumpkin rolls and more. If you do want to go the extra mile to try to please everyone, you may even want to add a chocolate-based treat for those who don’t love pies or prefer something a little more decadent.


Not sure how many desserts to make for Thanksgiving? The general guide is one dish per every five people. You can always make more, but if you want to keep stress to a minimum while still making sure that there is plenty of food, don’t worry about preparing a bakery’s worth of sweets. 


Knowing how much to serve at Thanksgiving can be stressful, and, even if this year may not bring huge crowds to your table, a true party pro will always be prepared. So, whether you are hosting 5 or 20, this guide can help create your shopping list and plan for a delicious Thanksgiving meal that will provide your guests with plenty of food, well-balanced choices and opportunities to enjoy the holiday season.



Contributed to The 55+ Society

Looking for more Society tips and learnings? Return Home here.

Published 12.1.2020

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