Your Thanksgiving dinner is going to be smaller than usual this year (we hope). Especially since it’ll probably be just with people in your household, per Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent restrictions on indoor gatherings. With the madness of these past seven months, a scaled-down, low-key feast sounds pretty good to us.

How to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2020

Pick one dish to make from scratch

If you want to actually take the day to relax, simplify things a lot this year. Think turkey deli sandwich, mashed potatoes and Craisins. All the traditional flavors without any of the stress. The most labor-intensive part will be lifting your hand to your mouth.

Elevate your dinner by picking just one side the kids can help you make from scratch without trashing the entire kitchen. If your mini chefs aren’t ready to mince vegetables or truss legs, pick a dish that’s forgiving and requires very few ingredients.

Enter mashed potatoes. The “recipe” couldn’t get any easier — peel and boil the potatoes, then employ child labor to mash them with salt, butter and milk to taste. Press garlic cloves for extra zing.

Cranberry relish takes only three ingredients: a 2-pound bag of fresh cranberries, two whole oranges and a cup of sugar. Run it through a grinder or pulse it in a food processor, combine the ingredients and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least a day. Once you’ve tasted fresh cranberry sauce, you’ll never go back to the stuff that glops out of the can still shaped like the can.


Leverage takeout

Braving the supermarket the day before Thanksgiving is not for the faint of heart. One year, I had just one item in my shopping cart — a cardboard box neatly packed with an entire precooked Thanksgiving dinner. The guy next to me looked at my cart, then his long shopping list. “Should’ve done that,” he said.

You can order a Thanksgiving-dinner-in-a-box from the grocery store or restaurant. Consider getting takeout to support a neighborhood restaurant; the reinstated ban on indoor service isn’t helping their business. (For a list of Seattle-area restaurants offering takeout for Thanksgiving, go to:

We ordered a fully-cooked turkey dinner from Metropolitan Market to split with another family — contact-free doorstep drop-off, and we’ll be enjoying the feast in our respective houses. (Note that Met Market has sold out of its prepared dinners quickly this year, but as of this writing, some butcher shop items and appetizers are still available.)

The premade dishes at Trader Joe’s come in small portions, so you’re not hacking at a turkey carcass for the rest of the week. You can pick and choose the components of your dinner. For the indecisive, get the turkey and stuffing en croûte from the frozen section — it’s turkey and stuffing wrapped in puff pastry, with gravy and cranberry sauce on the side. Literally everything you need in one ($12.99) box. 

Unusual ways to taste Thanksgiving dinner

If your kids’ (or your) taste buds tend toward the adventurous, here are some options.

As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Brach came out with a limited edition Thanksgiving dinner-flavored candy corn. That’s green-bean-flavored candy corn, roasted-turkey-flavored candy corn, cranberry-sauce-flavored candy corn … you get the idea. Kinda like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans; you’d be eating it for the eww factor. Inexplicably, Thanksgiving dinner-flavored candy corn is sold out in many stores (but listed on eBay at jacked up prices!). 

How about turkey-flavored … ice cream? The Portland-based boutique ice creamery Salt & Straw is known for its unusual flavors (e.g. mealworm ice cream for Halloween). Its Thanksgiving flavors, available through Nov. 26, include: salted caramel Thanksgiving turkey, sweet potato casserole with maple pecans, roasted peach and sage cornbread stuffing, and cranberry juniper sorbet. It might not be something you want an entire pint ($12.50) of, but it’s fun to share a scoop ($5.50 single scoop). Check out scoop shops on Capitol Hill and in Ballard.