Merry Little Solo Christmas Dinner
I know what I’m doing New Year’s Eve
More years than not over the decade and a half, New Year’s Eve finds me at home, cooking up some kind of special dinner, just for me. I take advantage of the late night to try an elaborate recipe, and I’ll build a multicourse meal around it.
I set the table properly. I change my plates between courses. I might even have different wines to complement the various dishes. Mood lighting, and dinner music, but of course!
After cooking for hours, I’ll sit down and eat slowly, thoroughly enjoying myself, grateful for time to reflect on my year. I used to watch the fireworks display for Boston’s First Night, which I could see from my living room at my old apartment in East Somerville.
Except for the mountain of dishes, my solo New Year’s Eves are positively magical. And less painful the next day.
Strange times call for solo holidays
Holiday solo dinners may not be new to me new for me, but the solo holidays I’m having this year are. Thanks to Covid-19, I spent Thanksgiving alone for the first time ever (and for only the second time away from my parents’ house). I’ll be home for Christmas as well, meaning my home, also for the first time ever.
And I’m excited.
If my Thanksgiving is any indication, I’m here to tell you that you can create a wonderful holiday for yourself.
Inspiration from a solo Thanksgiving feast
My original plan for Thanksgiving did not involve an elaborate meal, but rather pizza and Netflix. With my first vacation since May, thanks to an ongoing project, and having just spent time caring for my parents after my dad had a routine procedure (quarantining before and after, of course), I had almost no energy left. Binging on junk food and teevee sounded positively perfect.
I’m not really sure what got into me, but Tuesday morning, I decided that I needed to have a pumpkin dessert, and that I felt like making it.
Then I thought about baking bread for a cheese course.
And then I started thinking about cranberries and about soup, and drooling over the idea of decadent mashed potatoes (the kind my mother never makes).
Before long, I had planned out an elaborate solo Thanksgiving dinner.
I wound up making a six-course feast! Here’s my menu:
- Roasted squash soup with sage and cream (find the recipe here!)
- Roasted chicken thighs with cranberry and orange and pomme purée (ecipe, below! Subscribe for the pomme purée recipe in the Wonder & Sundry Recipe Box)
- Maple Dijon roasted brussels sprouts and smoky roasted corn
- Greens dressed with walnut oil and fleur de sel
- Homemade fougasse (basic recipe from The Little Paris Kitchen) with chevre, fig jam and apples (I was going to make an individual apple crisp, but these apples were too good to cook)
- Pumpkin pots de crème, with maple whipped cream
Cooking a Solo Thanksgiving Dinner: A blast to prepare, and a peaceful meal to savor
I had a blast cooking, riffing off of recipes I know by heart (the soup and the bread), trying something new (the pumpkin pots de crème—my only note is to add more spices), winging it with the chicken (and dare I say, I winged it very well—delicious and lovely), and using techniques I’d used in other ways (the veggies).
On that Wednesday, I made the soup, the dessert, and the fougasse dough, meaning that all I really had to do on Thanksgiving proper was bake off the bread, make a main with a starch and veg, and dress some greens. I set the table, and put on a nice dress and played some Bach.
I said aloud the things I am thankful for before I began to eat, making a tradition for myself. And then I ate slowly, savoring each bite, grateful for the time, energy, and resources to have such a meal.
My solo Thanksgiving, like my solo New Year’s Eves, gave me just what I needed. Quiet. Peace. No family drama (I love my family, and we love drama). Delicious food.
Aside from the mountain of dishes, I had a perfect Thanksgiving.
Might I suggest cooking yourself a Merry Little Solo Christmas Dinner?
Might I suggest cooking yourself Merry Little Solo Dinner for Christmas, if you celebrate the holiday? Leading up to Christmas, I’m going to post some tips for planning for and cooking an elaborate meal for one, as well as a recipe for my carrot and dill soup with lemon that I’ve served to acclaim for Christmas dinner in years past. You don’t need to be an expert cook a huge budget to cook a memorable solo dinner (that soup exploits cheap ingredients and the basic recipe was one of the first things I ever learned how to cook). I’ll have a little menu you can customize to add a touch of ceremony to your holiday.
Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, cooking multicourse meals for just yourself is a joy. I encourage you to give cooking for one a go, if you haven’t tried it already.
Are you in? Do you cook like this for yourself already? Let me know in the comments!
Also, be sure to check out the other posts in the Merry Little Solo Christmas Dinner series!