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How to host Thanksgiving meals of all sizes—from 2 to 20

By: Lodge Cast Iron / October 5, 2023

Thanksgiving is a time to bring together near and dear, and that can mean something different for every person, family, or friend group. Whether you’re hosting for 2 or bringing together 20, we’ve got easy tips for making a memorable meal.

Thanksgiving Pie

Hosting for 2

We love making a meal for two into something truly special and memorable. If you’re celebrating with a smaller group this year, consider making your Thanksgiving meal a true reflection of what you love to eat and value most in a meal. Bonus: you don’t have to worry about planning for preferences—just go for what you love!

Green Bean Casserole With Crispy Pancetta and Buttermilk Fried Onions Recipe
Reconsider your turkey.

You don’t have to cook a full 12 pound turkey for two! Consider roasting a chicken, pork tenderloin, or even roasting turkey legs or a turkey breast instead of the whole bird. Get creative and choose something you’d both love!

Choose sides that spark joy.

Now’s the time to really spoil yourselves with exactly the sides you like. Ditch the plate fillers or the flavors that you don’t absolutely love. If mashed potatoes and mac and cheese are your personal favorites, go for it!

Pick a dessert with staying power.

One of our favorite parts of Thanksgiving leftovers is having a bit of pumpkin pie with our day-after coffee. Choose a dessert that will hold up in the fridge for a few days to avoid food waste. Think pies and cakes!

Hosting for 5-10

Well isn’t this just the sweet spot of Thanksgiving hosting? You’ve got plenty of people around the table to serve up a variety of sides and breads and desserts—but your heat sources won’t get overworked in the process. Revel in the Turkey Day of it all, won’t you?

Pumpkin Spiced Pork Tenderloin
Consider two mains.

Turkey is great, but it’s not for everyone! When you slot those extra eaves into the table, consider setting a second main, too—be it a vegetarian option like a lasagna, or a pork loin for those who don’t like turkey. Plus, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to go around, too!

Drop a risky side into the mix.

Traditions start when you break out of the mold! Consider adding one new, experimental side to your standard fare—it may just be the beginning of a new Thanksgiving tradition. Be it a new flavor, cuisine, or ingredient, it’s ok to get creative with your meal.

Take shortcuts—no one’s judging!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with store-bought salads, sides, or desserts. In fact, we love them! Make them your own with some simple customizations like a family-favorite vinaigrette, an inspired new topping, or simply a dollop of whipped cream. 

Hosting for 20+

Take a deep breath: it’s about to get pretty fun, pretty loud, and pretty chaotic in your home. But that’s what it’s all about! Prepare for a crowd of 20 or more with a few simple tips that will make cooking and serving a little easier on you.

Make bread part of the party.

A sizzling skillet of cornbread, a pan of warm rolls, a loaf of swirly bread… When you’re hosting for a crowd, bread is a big part of the fun! Plus, you can be a little more flexible about when you bake these, making them an easy but satisfying addition that doesn’t have to create stovetop stress.

Create a diversion: SNACKS.

With a crowd this large, it can be tough to predict exactly when you’ll be sitting down at the table—and it’s good to create a little wiggle room for bigger-than-average turkey roasting or a side that’s scorched. Snacks can be a heroic save: set up a mix of store bought and homemade nibbles like deviled eggs to keep folks entertained while magic happens in the kitchen.

Set aside a space for dessert.

Get those cakes, pies, and cookies into the spotlight (and off the table) by setting up a designated dessert area in the house. It can be in a separate room, on a cupboard, or even on a covered porch—anywhere that will keep them safely out of the kitchen. Bonus: kitchens get hot when you’re cooking for a crowd, so moving dessert elsewhere can keep things from getting melty or runny.

Prep for Thanksgiving with essential cookware!

No matter the size of your gathering, set your Thanksgiving table with recipes made in cast iron

Contributed By: Lodge Cast Iron

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