How to Plan Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thanksgiving Dinner 2020 will surely be different than years past. With safety of guests and loved ones being a big concern, your table may be smaller than usual or you may find yourself unable to travel to visit your family.

Despite the difficulties and stresses of this year, we can choose to focus on being grateful and thankful for all the blessings we have. Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine. I choose to view it as a day about family, love, and good food.

As a college student, I was lucky to be invited into the homes of my friends. As a young adult, I began hosting small dinners for friends who were also unable to travel home to see either family. Now, as an adult, I take great pride in hosting this holiday and creating special memories with my family.

These tips and recipes will help you plan out a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving Dinner for your friends and family.

Things to consider when planning Thanksgiving Dinner:

  • How many people are coming? – As previously mentioned, this year may be different from years past. Keep in mind the restrictions in your State this year as you decide what is the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. The CDC recommendations can be found here.
  • Dietary Restrictions– If you are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner, it is important to consider the dietary restrictions of your guests. For example, half of my guests are vegetarian. Therefore, it is important to have a large variety of vegetarian sides also to not include meat in my sides. As a host, it is important to ask your guests if they have any allergies and ensure they have food they are able to eat. Check out my blog for Vegan, Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Recipes!
  • Menu Planning– You want to plan out a menu that has a variety of textures, tastes, and is not overly rich. You want to consider appetizers, mains, sides, and dessert.
  • Division of Labor- One person does not need to make the entire meal. You can ask people to bring dessert, appetizers, or even sides to help make your holiday less stressful and more enjoyable. Ask a friend or family member to come over and cook with you. It is a fun way to spend the holiday and you have someone to check your seasoning.
  • Turkey– Thanksgiving dinner is all about that show-stopper main dish. You can buy turkey parts separately, like the legs and breasts if you have a smaller number of people. You can also roast a small chicken or turkey. A full turkey will require some days to thaw and brine, so be sure to plan ahead.

What does Planning Ahead Mean?

Shopping– Keep a grocery list on your phone and give yourself time to plan and think about what you want to make or serve.

Recipes– Bookmark your specific recipes in advance so you are not scrambling on Thanksgiving day. You will be surprised how easy it is to not be able to find that perfect stuffing recipe when you need it most!

Time– Part of planning, is thinking about when you want guests to arrive and when you would like to serve dinner. You will also want to give yourself time to clean up the kitchen, get ready and maybe have a glass of wine.

Oven Timetable– The turkey will need to cook for a long period of time (preferably at a lower temperature and without the oven door opening). A clear list of what dishes need to go into the oven before and after will save you a ton of stress on Thanksgiving day. Use the day before to get appetizers and desserts done and cook the rest of your dishes in the oven while the turkey is resting and getting carved.

Sweet potato casserole with a brown butter topping

Don’t Forget…

Drinks– While focusing on the food don’t forget about the drinks. You want to have a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available for your guests. Try out a seasonal cocktail as a welcome drink or even some warm apple cider.

Table Settings– While it is a festive day, do not go crazy with the decorations. Remember you have a ton of food that needs to fit on the table as well. I have a second table with all the food laid out in order to comfortably fit around the table.

Social Distancing– As keeping numbers small is recommended for the Holiday. You can set aside a time to FaceTime with other family members after dinner.

How much food should I make for Thanksgiving Dinner?


  • Cheese- 2 ounces per person
  • Dip – 3 ounces per person
  • Hors D’oeuvres– 4 per person
  • Soup– 1 cup per person


  • Turkey– 1.25 to 1.5 pounds per person


  • Cranberry Sauce- 1/3 to 1/2 per person
  • Gravy- 1/3 to 1/2 per person
  • Stuffing- 3/4 cup per person
  • Mashed Potatoes- 3/4 cup per person
  • Rolls/Biscuits– 1 to 1 1/2 per person
  • Vegetables- 6 ounces per person


  • Wine- half a bottle per person


  • Pie- 1/4 pie per person

About This Site

My name is Garima Vir. I am a  lawyer, dog mom, wife and home cook.

I have a passion for food and love to try new dishes when I go out and at home.

I love being creative and trying new things but also enjoy making things that are easy and quick.

Join me on my journey as I learn more about food and cooking.



  1. What great tips! It’s important to keep holidays small this year but they can still be fun!

  2. Love the Idea of scheduling a Zoom time with family!

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