I am incredibly enamored by Jennifer Drawbridge’s take-no-prisoners attitude to cooking for a crowd in our November 2013 issue. I, too, love the challenge of preparing and executing a feast for many—from the meditative rhythm of trimming dozens of Brussels sprouts, to final flourishes on several dishes as they hit the table. But my family is small, spread far and wide across the country. We love each other, but the expense of flying anywhere, especially this time of year, usually means we make our own plans.

My challenge this year is cooking for few (most likely 4), when it’s hard to justify cooking a turkey of any size, and more than one pie can seem excessive. I refuse to skip out on the holiday foods I love, and I want this meal to be appropriately special, but overdoing seems silly, even wasteful. Lately I’ve exchanged one bird for another: a roasted chicken has the same parts my small family can pick and choose from. I love this Classic Roast Chicken for company.

Below is my ideal menu—all Cooking Light favorites that are holiday themed, impressive, yet appropriate for my small (yet appreciative) crowd. There will still be more than one pie, however… It’s my way of planning ahead for breakfast!

Ready to start shopping?

View this menu, which includes every recipe you see mentioned here. From there, you can add all the ingredients to your shopping list in one click when you sign into your MyRecipes account.