Step one for a perfect COVID Thanksgiving: Keep the guest list small... no, even smaller than that.
My partner and I have had Friendsgiving with the same group of people who are basically chosen family every year since we first got together. It usually functions as a type of after party for winding down from family stress of the day together over wine and games. Or sometimes is given in it's own full day if we're just really desperate for some quality time with each other. But this year that small, core group will be our primary Thanksgiving... and as weird as it is, I'm honestly really looking forward to it. The change for me means no listening to relatives I barely know re-hash the same argument they've been having since 1991. It means not spending days making 10 different pies and dessert bars that were requested, only to have everyone just eat the bourbon pecan and leave the poor old sweet potato out in the cold. No driving to a ton of different houses and only staying a few hours at each because there are still 50 more houses on the list. (I did the math two years ago, and even though the circumstances were a bit different because we had some cousins to see in North Dallas in visiting from Colorado- we ended up driving around 500 miles that Thanksgiving week. 500 miles just to different parts of the Metroplex trying to make everybody happy. Yeesh.) I love an Autumn drive... but not for that long.
Well not this year. Sorry to say it if this is not the case for you, but being forced to downsize the holiday for safety sake is actually a huge blessing to my sanity. And knowing I'll get to spend a chilly, low-stress Thursday with my MySpace top 8 (or pod, covid crew, whatever you wanna call 'em) is a welcomed break from "the norm". So let's get to our top tips to keep your holiday small and above all SIMPLE!
1.) Leave the table setting stress to us!
If you're a wannabe Martha (no shade intended, craft babes) then maybe you love waking up at 5 a.m. to start foraging acorns, and hot glueing leaves to log slices for the Thanksgiving table. But if like us, each new day of 2020 has left you more exhausted than the last, keep it simple with a perfectly sized all-in-one party in a box kit. You can keep it simple and chic with our Noir Party kit for a gilded, yet understated table 🥂 (*psst* this set is also amazing for NYE!)
Or if you're more of a boho holiday type, pair your Ratan pumpkins with our Amethyst & Rose Gold kit ✨🍁
The best part is these are already just the right size for paired-down pandemic gatherings, coming in table settings for 8, 16, or 24 guests and most starting at just $115. Each kit also includes unique, coordinated decor to spruce up your celebration and even come with treat/baking cups for individual and small bite desserts (more on that later).
2.) Save the bird, throw a potluck
Listen, I know it's tradition to have a giant turkey on Thanksgiving, and I get that some people are very committed to that. But I, for one, don't care for it much, even when it's garlic stuffed and Cajun fried- and that's the pinnacle of turkey right there, y'all. (And not to get all NPR on ya, but it's a silly tradition anyway- because if they were eating meat at the first Thanksgiving, it was likely clams, lobster, and venison.) In 2020 there is absolutely no reason you should be defrosting a huge, slippery, dinosaur in your sink for just 8 people to pick at it a bit. Tradition and normalcy have all gone so far out the window with this year, embrace that with a special, non-traditional holiday meal. Now, I'm not saying not to have mashed potatoes or Mac-and-cheese or any of the stuff that sparks joy (and seriously, if you invite me over for Thanksgiving and there's no mashed potatoes, I'm leaving). I'm just saying re-think the main, or skip it all together if you really wanna show 2020 what's what.
(You're telling me you wanna be on your feet all day cooking for a bite of THIS?)
We all know this day is about the sides, and seeing how many different ones you can cram on your plate at one time, anyway. Heck, each year at the Waxahachie Oddfellows Thanksgiving potluck (which is one tradition I'm really struggling to let go of this year, honestly) the food is less holiday focused, and more about everyone just bringing whatever they're really great at making, and focusing on what's in season- so we end up with a spread that has everything from Polish stuffed cabbage, to Vietnamese spring rolls, alligator stuffed chicken, and a rice dish from every corner of the globe. For instance I usually bring Hawaiian meatballs, because they're simple, delicious, and easy to alter a little for a vegan version for our brothers and sisters who don't mess with animal products. And that's the key here, easy and adjustable. I can't tell you how many years I've been back at the store the night before Thanksgiving like a ding-dong because I forgot goat cheese and the Brussel sprouts would be ruined without them. Don't do that!! Let's all promise each other to be better this year and not do that, okay? Okay.
3.) Spread love, not germs
In keeping with the theme of a "small" Thanksgiving, I'm planning on only doing single serve/small bite desserts this year (and def not making 10 different pies!) Aside from being a well needed break, it will prevent everyone from sharing germs touching the pie cutter and whipped cream over and over (or in the case of one family member who will remain unnamed for now, licking the knife clean of cherry so they can cut a slice of pecan- instead of just getting a new knife 😑 no, just no). So here's the plan: 2-3 kinds of sweets, made either into bars to be pre-cut and served in little squares, or baked in the tiny Simply Baked treat cups included with our party kit. Just look how cute these individual cakes from their IG are! Just grab and go, no knife licking required!
4.) Bring the parade home
I don't know if anyone else felt this way, but I got misty eyed when I heard The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade wasn't cancelled. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a musical number from Muppets and a giant Garfield balloon. And since it's not an in person event this year, we're going to bring the larger than life fun home with Backyard Movie Party (who by the way is having a fall sale that ends soon!) which lets us watch all our favorite streaming services through the provided equipment rental. (This is the outdoor version, but they offer a flat hanging screen rental, too, which is perfect for indoor use.)
Here's an article from Today with more info on what's included in this years parade, and how to watch . After Santa Claus comes to town and the parade ends, we can switch over to some holiday movies for the kids (check out BMP's holiday streaming guide for ideas) and then to the Dallas/Washington game later that day and do some at home tailgating before dinner. You can even game on this set up... which means my siblings and I can revive our old Thanksgiving tradition of me wiping the floor with them at Mario Kart 😂.
5.) Pause and be grateful
This year has been really hard on all of us, and I don't know if it intends to let up any time soon. So, let's take this day to shut out the troubles and negativity for a little while. If you've made it this far into 2020, pause and be grateful for the air in your lungs, for the food on the table, and for the people sitting around it (6 feet apart of course, lol) There will be time tomorrow to worry about tomorrow, and the hoard of rabid, poisonous, giant slugs or evil robots, or whatever else this dumpster fire year has headed our way. Today is for the family we choose, and potatoes... so many potatoes.
I hope the ideas we've shared will help you have a day focused not on anxiety for the change and worries of the year, but on giving thanks with the ones closest to you in a simplified way so you can spend less time planning, and more time with your eating pants on!
And as always, for more great holiday ideas, visit us on Pinterest!