How to Make a Thanksgiving Basket for Needy Families

- Thursday, November 16, 2023
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Thanksgiving Basket

Planning a Thanksgiving basket can be simple and fun, making it an ideal Thanksgiving activity to get the kids involved in.

Planning the Menu

The first thing to do is to plan the menu. If you know the family who is receiving your basket, then you can ask them about their favorite Thanksgiving dishes and create a custom menu for their basket.

If you are donating to a church or charity who will distribute the basket on your behalf, then think about the things you and your family enjoy on Thanksgiving.

Grocery Shopping

After you’ve planned your menu, you’ll need to turn it into a shopping list (more on that in a bit).

If you’re planning on making this a family tradition in your household, give each member of your family their own individual shopping list with items for them to find at the store, like a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt!

Packing the Basket

After you’ve finished shopping, place all your goodies in a basket or other vessel to deliver your donations in.

One popular suggestion is to purchase an inexpensive laundry basket to use as your ‘basket’. It will likely be big enough to fit all the groceries and can be used after Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Basket Items List

Many of the items suggested will require preparation of some kind. It should be understood that the family receiving your basket will have access to a kitchen to prepare the dishes.

Here a sample list of items to include in your Thanksgiving basket:

Shelf-Stable Foods

  • 1 Canned Ham
  • 1-2 Boxes of Stuffing Mix
  • 1 Box of Instant Potatoes
  • 2 Box of Macaroni and Cheese
  • 2 Canned Yams
  • Brown Sugar
  • 1 Bag of Marshmallows
  • 2 Canned Green Beans
  • 1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • French Fried Onions
  • 2 Canned of Corn
  • 1-2 Canned Cranberry Sauce
  • 1-2 Jars of Gravy (Or packets)
  • 1 Cornbread Mix
  • 1 Dessert Mix (Pumpkin Pie Mix, Brownie Mix, Cake Mix, etc.)
  • 2 Jello Mix

The following ideas are optional, but make nice additions to your basket.


  • Ice Tea Mix
  • Coffee
  • Bottled Juice
  • Drink Mix
  • Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Apple Cider (that doesn’t need to be refrigerated).

Disposable Plates/Utensils

  • Paper Plates
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Holiday Napkins or Paper Towels
  • Disposable Foil Pans

Grocery Gift Card

  • A grocery gift card isn’t required, but it’s a nice addition for a family in need. This will allow them to buy any additional fresh ingredients they’ll need to prepare their Thanksgiving dinner.


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