48+ Sample Thanksgiving Menu Templates

What Is a Thanksgiving Menu?

A Thanksgiving menu is a special menu that lists the food and beverage items and its corresponding prices served by a dining establishment on Thanksgiving Day. This special menu consists of dishes that are usually served during Thanksgiving such as roasted turkey, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and stuffing or dressing. For most restaurants, Thanksgiving menus are special menus that are added into a restaurant’s regular menu as an add-on or menu inserts. Thanksgiving menus are available for printing in various sizes and paper stocks.


Elements of a Thanksgiving Menu

If your restaurant is about to offer its very first Thanksgiving menu, you might find it challenging to come up with possible menu items to include on your menu. Sure, you can’t go wrong with following the basic dishes but if you want to stand out among your competitors, then generate a simple Thanksgiving menu out of the following ideas we listed below.

Appetizer: Also called as a starter, this dish is served first before the main course. Appetizers can be served both hot and cold. The possible appetizers you should serve include stuffed mushrooms with spinach, caramelized onion dip, and sweet and spicy nuts.Entree or Main Course: Considered as the heaviest and heartiest dish, one cannot deny that the main dish is the lead star of every full course Thanksgiving dinners. Two of the most popular main dishes include roasted turkey with gravy and honey-glazed ham.Side Dishes: To support the lead star of the Thanksgiving meal, which is the entree, do not forget to add side dishes to your menu. A Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without its delectable and filling sides such as turkey stuffing, sweet potato casserole, creamy mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.Dessert: How can you possibly have a full course Thanksgiving meal without desserts? There is a wide variety of desserts you can offer in your restaurant and among these are spiced sugar cookies, apple fritters, and pumpkin pies.Drinks: What would a Thanksgiving meal be like without beverages? Choose drinks that you perfectly pair with your main dish selection. The drinks you should consider offering are cranberry champagne cocktail, apple pie punch, and lemon juice.

How to Design a Thanksgiving Menu

A menu can make or break a restaurant’s success. As you plan for your restaurant’s Thanksgiving Day menu, there are a lot of things that you need to consider. Even if it’s only a special menu, planning one requires your full attention and action. Below are the easy-to-follow steps that can guide you on how to design a Thanksgiving menu that you can give out with pride to your guests.

Step 1: Work with a Ready-made Thanksgiving Menu Template

If the holidays are already around the corner, you will no longer have the time to create a Thanksgiving menu design from scratch by yourself. That is why you must consider working with a ready-made menu template to hasten things. You can find various templates available online that contain ready-made layouts and formats that cater to varying restaurant menu styles. You can even opt for a simple template that you can further customize by adding your preferred images, graphics, and texts. By using a template, you can not only save time but you also keep yourself from worrying whether or not you will make it before Thanksgiving Day.

Step 2: Know Your Competitors

Before you start plotting out your menu plans, you have to know your competitors first. Business is business, and it is only natural for you to find ways to entice people to flock into your restaurant on Thanksgiving. You don’t have to do whip out your detective skills to do this step—all you need to do is to visit their restaurant and look around. You can even check out their official website or other digital marketing efforts such as Facebook marketing and Instagram marketing. Know what makes you stand out from your competitors in terms of food and also their marketing strategies. Check out their menu pricing, too, as it can be an essential dining factor for restaurants. Choose a price that justifies the kind of dishes you serve.

Step 3: Brainstorm Your Thanksgiving Menu Content

Other than the much-awaited Thanksgiving turkey, your restaurant needs to offer different meals for your customers. That is why it is crucial to take some time to plan for your menu’s content. Other than looking at the dishes your competitors will offer, you can also go online and browse for possible Thanksgiving menu items. Take some time whether or not you will include other traditional Thanksgiving meals and sides such as mashed potato, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. That is the step where you can plan out the number of dishes per course such as two appetizer http://www.forbes.comoptions, three side dishes, two main dishes, and two desserts. To accomplish this step, ask and discuss this with your chef.

Step 4: Conceptualize Your Thanksgiving Menu Design

Even if you use a template, there are still some things you need to do. That includes thinking of suitable content and design for your Thanksgiving menu. When brainstorming, it is ideal to consider your restaurant’s existing brand such as the colors, the design, or graphic elements. And of course, do not forget incorporating Thanksgiving-related graphics into your menu design as this can set the menu apart from your restaurant’s regular or daily menu. One crucial design element that you should plan out for this step includes the images of each of the dishes you will serve.

Step 5: Break the Thanksgiving Menu into Different Sections

Like any other restaurant menu, your Thanksgiving menu should have sections to identify the kind of dishes below it. These sections must have a clear presentation such as writing it in bold headlines, enclosing it with boxes or borders, and so on. Consider highlighting your unique dishes, such as the main ones, with indicators such as stars so you can entice customers. If your Thanksgiving menu is an addition to your regular one, it is ideal to have at least two columns for the menu layout. Adding too many might look distracting in the eyes of your customers.

Step 6: Add Images for Each Dish

If you only have limited menu items for Thanksgiving, adding photos for each dish is ideal. If you plan to serve a lot of meals, it is best only to pick specific menu items you want to highlight. If your budget allows, hire a photographer to take professional photos. With high-quality images, rest assured that you will make a good impression on your customers and that these will impact their dining decisions. However, add pictures with caution as it tends to make customers judge the actual dish to its presentation on the menu.

Step 7: Compose Enticing Thanksgiving Menu Descriptions

Instead of solely relying on images alone, you should add a description for every dish you serve. If you find the need to explain, do not hesitate to compose descriptions that will water your customers’ mouths. If you want your servers to get an opportunity to discuss a dish in detail, one way to get the customers to start a conversation is by including an ingredient that looks new in their eyes.

Step 8: Design Your Thanksgiving Menu

If you are using a template, start by changing its colors to your preferred scheme, incorporating brand images and design elements, and adding your restaurant’s necessary information. When designing its background, you can either choose a solid color or use a background image. See to it that you decrease the image’s opacity in a way that it won’t make the texts incomprehensible. Ensure a careful use of negative space so you can successfully deliver your intended message.

Step 9: Finalize Your Thanksgiving Menu

As soon as you are happy and done with your menu design, take a moment to review it first before having it printed. Check whether the design elements you incorporated are in the right places. Proofread the texts and check out for any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and typographical errors. A minor fault is something you wouldn’t want to risk; thus, make sure that you thoroughly check the contents of your Thanksgiving menu.


The Dos and Don’ts of a Thanksgiving Menu

A Thanksgiving menu is not only used to inform a customer of the restaurant’s available dishes but it also serves as a communication and marketing tool. With a well-designed and well-planned menu, a restaurant will sell more. If you want to learn how to design your restaurant’s Thanksgiving menu effectively, take notes from the following dos and don’ts to keep you guided.


1. Do make use of indicators.

Make use of indicators when you highlight specific items on your menu. You may use stars or enclose the items that you want to highlight within a box. You can also highlight things by literally highlighting them in different colors that make it stand out among the rest of the other menu items. The items you should consider highlighting are your most profitable items.

2. Do incorporate holiday-appropriate colors and symbols.

Even if your restaurant has an established color theme, it is ideal for your special Thanksgiving menu to have a design that makes use of colors appropriate to the holiday such as red, orange, yellow, and brown. Choose the correct color scheme so it can effectively set the holiday mood of your restaurant. Other than the colors, do not miss out on the opportunity of incorporating Thanksgiving symbols in your menu design such as the cornucopia, pumpkin, cranberries, beans, and, of course, the turkey.

3. Do know customers’ eye movements on a menu.

A study conducted by Dr. Sybil Yang from the San Francisco State University finds that average diners read menus like that of a book where they read base on a sequence which starts from left to right and down. Some customers read menus carefully and these are the types of people you should watch out for because the fabled menu ‘sweet spots’ or menu items placed above the midline on the right-hand page do not for work for them. And as a marketing tool, it is important to consider and take advantage of this eye movement and place decoys in your menu. Decoys are the food items that are not usually chosen by most customers but it is placed among those that typically get selected to affect the decisions of your customers.

4. Do choose font styles wisely.

lSacrificing the legibility of your menu’s design for the sake of aesthetics is a big no-no. Choosing an incomprehensible font style for the description of each dish will only discourage your customers from ordering any of it. Upon selecting the suitable typeface for your special menu, consider the number of menu items you plan to include as well as the amount of text you are planning to incorporate.

5. Do make use of high-quality photos.

Even if you are only planning to include a minimum number of Thanksgiving menu items, it is best to incorporate high-quality images of each of the dishes you plan to serve. While you must not forget adding menu descriptions, it is always ideal to accompany it with high-quality images that further illustrate what your restaurant has to offer. Consider having these photos taken by professionals to ensure it meets standards.

6. Do keep your brand in mind.

Sure, you need to incorporate holiday-appropriate elements in your Thanksgiving menu to set it apart from your restaurant’s regular menu. However, you should also find a way that you can include your restaurant’s brand. You can use your current font preference and you can also add a Thanksgiving twist to your restaurant’s signature dishes. By keeping your restaurant’s brand in mind when designing a special menu for Thanksgiving, you make your brand more memorable to your customers.


1. Don’t use dollar signs.

When writing down the prices for each menu item, do not include dollar signs since this reminds the customer that they will spend. As a result, they would tend to choose items that have lower prices and turn away from your profitable menu items. However, if you find the need to use currency signs, see to it that you do not overemphasize it.

2. Don’t write down a price list.

You surely don’t want to discourage your customers from buying your profitable menu items. That said, do not include a price list at all. Make it a point that they will order a menu item based on what they want to eat or based on your menu descriptions and not because of what an item costs.

3. Don’t use every single Thanksgiving symbols.

No matter how much you want to incorporate every single Thanksgiving-related symbol in your Thanksgiving menu, that is something you should not do. Doing so puts you at risk of making your menu an eyesore to your customers.

4. Don’t add too many images.

As much as you are encouraged to incorporate images, be sure to keep it to a minimum. Should you make use of one, it should be of extremely high and professional quality. If you serve a lot of Thanksgiving dishes, consider leaving the image of each meal up to the imagination of your customers. Keep in mind that not everyone is a fan of food photography especially if they find out that the real deal looks like nothing from what its presentation in the photos. Find ways where you can strike a balance.

5. Don’t do all the planning by yourself.

Running a restaurant means you are running things with a team. Do not undermine team efforts by making sure that you seek help from the people who help you run the restaurant as well as those who handle the daily business operations. Every feedback counts so do not miss the opportunity of seeking help from those whom you can trust to help you fulfill the tasks at hand. If you have the budget, hire a consultant to help you look over the draft for you.


Are you now ready to make a special restaurant menu exclusive for Thanksgiving Day? Be sure to take advantage of the menu templates and examples that we have uploaded here to make your menu designing process a breeze.