Thanksgiving for two doesn’t need to be any less special! Create an intimate Turkey Day celebration, whether it’s for your housemate or romantic other-half, with these ideas and inspiration. Celebrate the holiday of gratitude with these scaled-down versions of Thanksgiving menu favourites and stylish seasonal décor.
Usually, Thanksgiving for us means hitting the road. As Aussies living in the US, we don’t have any family about so we extend the extra-long weekend into a 10-day opportunity to discover a new part of the world like hiking Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks or going south for some Mexican sunshine and culture.
This year the pandemic and a new job will keep us tethered to home, so I’m planning to make it a special Thanksgiving for two. Here’s the plan… You can recreate it exactly or take it as inspiration for your own special soiree.
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Why Thanksgiving is celebrated?
If you’ve grown up in North America, you can probably skip this part and go right to Thanksgiving table décor, but you’re welcome to stick around for a refresher on the history of the holiday.
The “first Thanksgiving” is considered to be a 3-day feast in October 1621 held by the Pilgrims, a group of English settlers who had established a colony at Plymouth Massachusetts the year before. The party had set out to find a new home where they could practise their religion without the persecution they had experienced in Europe.
Fifty-three Pilgrims celebrated their first corn harvest with ninety Native Americans of the Wampanoag Nation. They are thought to have dined on fowl, venison, fish, vegetables and beer. The shared feast is said to have solidified an alliance between the two groups which lasted for 50 years.
“Thanksgivings” were a regular part of life before this particular event, consisting of days of prayer and church services to show gratitude to God for various blessings including military victories and the end of drought. Following this “first Thanksgiving” in the New World, a celebratory harvest feast became more of an annual event.
There was some initial resistance to the establishment of an official, national holiday based on a religious observance. Various days of thanksgiving were declared over the years by a number of different Presidents to commemorate events in the nation’s history. They were adopted to varying degrees across the States. It wasn’t until 1863, following the American Civil War, when a national day of thanksgiving was declared by President Abraham Lincoln, dated Thursday, November 26. Eventually, the last Thursday in November was solidified as the date for the ongoing festivity.
Canada adopted a similar celebration from European traditions starting in 1578. The modern Canadian Thanksgiving Day takes place on the second Monday in October each year.
Modern Thanksgiving traditions
Thanksgiving has become a somewhat more secular holiday over time, associated with unity and peace rather than its original religious significance. Although, some Native Americans protest the day as they believe it deceptively conveys a peaceful relationship between European colonisers and America’s indigenous people.
Today, Thanksgiving customs and symbolism are largely modelled on the Pilgrim’s thanksgiving feast in Plymouth along with more contemporary traditions. Similar to Christmas, Thanksgiving Day celebrations often centre around a large family meal often consisting of turkey (hence its nickname “Turkey Day”), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving table decor
Just because this is Thanksgiving for two only, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy decorating for the occasion. Traditional Thanksgiving decorations are generally reflective of the autumnal timing of the holiday with fall colours and motifs related to harvest foods: pumpkin, corn and turkey. The cornucopia a.k.a horn of plenty, of ancient Greek fame, is often used to symbolise the bountiful harvest that spawned the “first Thanksgiving”.
My Thanksgiving table décor is going to be more contemporary, with a colour palette of jewel-toned plums, mustardy ambers, rusty oranges and millennial blush. Accessories in a soft, golds add a little celebratory glow.
The table will be centred with a gauzy, plum table runner, generous in size so it’s volume symbolically reflects the plentiful harvest vibes of Thanksgiving.
The centrepiece is a cluster of plush, velvet pumpkins in the hues of our colour palette, combined with a pair of taper candles in this contemporary candelabra. I also added a sprinkling of dew-drop LEDs for a little extra sparkle – battery operated lights are great for centrepieces.
Each Thanksgiving table setting will be set with matte blush stoneware, a plum napkin matching the table runner and lovely gold place markers that evoke the sentiment of the gathering. As I’m serving our Thanksgiving lunch family-style, I have set the table ready with plates. If you’re serving a plated meal, you might use a charger instead at each place setting.
For those in a colder climate, lighting your fireplace always lends a lovely atmosphere as well as warmth. You can also conjure up Netflix’s “Fireplace For Your Home” if you don’t have a hearth.
Finally, what’s a celebration without music?! Steal my Thanksgiving dinner playlist here.
Thanksgiving dinner for two menu
I’ve looked for modestly portioned versions of the classic turkey and trimmings for the menu, with a few contemporary twists.
At this time of year we love to whip up jug-load of caramel apple sangria similar to this one, and we always get requests for the recipe.
Rolled turkey breast with cranberry chutney, maple roasted squash salad, garlic mashed potatoes and this green bean salad. Since there’s only two of us, I don’t anticipate us missing any appetisers and there’ll probably be some scrummy leftovers for Friday lunch!
Pumpkin pie isn’t “a thing” in Australia, so we have gone completely mad for it since living in the US. When making it at home, I opt for this crustless Paleo-friendly version which is absolutely delicious.
Happy Thanksgiving for two – have a wonderful holiday together.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,