How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without Your Family

Five years have passed since I last sat down for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Even though the holiday was never that big of a deal in my home, it's one of those days where everyone expects you to travel back to where you're from and spend the day with relatives. The only problem? I live three thousand miles away from all of my relatives. So yeah, I will definitely once again be flying solo this year.

Whether you are thinking about spending the holidays alone this year because you're stuck at school or stuck working the day after the holiday, don't worry, I'm a seasoned veteran on how to not hate the holidays even if you don't have a home cooked meal to push you into a food coma. With so many different options of what to do, none including being asked about your relationship status by nosy relatives, you might even be a little glad that you saved yourself the price of airfare and survived the holidays all on your own. Or maybe with the help of just a few friends.

Surround yourself with people in a similar situation.

This tip is especially applicable if you are still in college, because with so many people on campus, you can't possibly be the only one that didn't have the chance to go home for the holidays. Pay attention to flyers around school or campus emails, there are usually events planned in or around campus targeted towards a holiday celebration for those who stuck around. An alternative is to find friends or fellow dorm neighbors who are in town and host a Friendsgiving. Have everyone bring one dish and voila, dinner is served!

Host your own Thanksgiving.

While you could technically host your own Thanksgiving dinner in college, who has the time, money or cooking abilities? Am I right? If you've aged a bit, think 22 and up, try hosting your own dinner for a change. You can still encourage guests to bring a side dish, just make sure you cover the essentials like turkey and mashed potatoes. Any friends who are local to the area or just don't want to spend the money to travel home can attend, leaving you looking like the most generous host of the year.

Attend a friend's family event.

Whether you're in college or just being an adult, attending a close friend's or significant other's family dinner is an option. As long as they promise to not leave your side at any moment, because hello, awkward! While this might be easier if you're younger, it's not totally out of the norm to be someone's plus one at a holiday party. As long as the dinner isn't super intimate you should be fine, but just in case, bring a little something like a pie to show your appreciation.

Spend the day volunteering.

My senior year of college I spent Thanksgiving volunteering at a local food bank in my university town. After spending the day serving food and talking to people in the community I suddenly wished I hadn't spent the last 3 years moping about being stuck at home alone on the holiday. Taking the time to give back to your community is so rewarding, and is especially helpful during holiday seasons when regular volunteers travel back home or have plans of their own. Take the step to call local shelter and soup kitchen to ask if they need any extra help for the day.

Reach out to family back home.

With apps like Skype, Hangouts, Facetime and about a million other forms of communication, there's no reason to feel like you are completely separated from those you love. Spend the time to call your mom or dad, I'm sure they'll love it no matter how busy the day is. If you feel you need an excuse to interrupt the festivities (which you don't by the way) just ask for some help on how to make that dish you all used to eat together. Real talk, I always call my mom to ask her at what temperature to bake my chicken because no one bakes chicken as good as that woman.

Start your own holiday tradition.

Instead of stressing out about all the things you're missing back home use the time to start a tradition of your own. With five years of celebrating on my own I've grown comfortable with my own Thanksgiving routine, which is making a dinner for one, complaining how there is nothing good on TV and stalking the website of all my favorite stores. I'm too terrified to shop on Black Friday so I just like to watch from a distance.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year? Will you be with friends, family or flying solo?

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  1. I'll be spending the holiday with family. I'm really looking forward to picking up my grandma from the airport tomorrow.

    1. Funnnn! And good thing she's travelling before the holiday! I've met so many people who's flights have gotten cancelled and they spend the holiday in some random connecting city :(

  2. I've done the friendsgiving before when I was away from my family for the holiday season. It was fun, but it wasn't the same as when I have Thanksgiving with my family.


    1. I feel like family Thanksgiving dinners are much more...hectic? At least mine used to have my mom screaming about something while my sister and I avoided helping out. We're terrible. Friendsgivings are so much more peaceful and everyone seems to pitch in bit more lol

  3. I'll actually be with my parents and 3 of my siblings this Thanksgiving, which is rather unusual! :P My family is also separated by thousands of miles, and I've got 3 other siblings in university in the USA, so we won't be seeing them, but I love your ideas for tagging along to other dinners. Everyone's welcome at our Thanksgiving table!

    1. I totally get you, I had a family dinner a few months back when they visited DC and it was a bit strange to sit with everyone again. But have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! :)

  4. I"ll be following a few of these tips this THanksgiving. We had planned to to go home this year, bt things came up. Now we're either going to be with friends or I"ll spend a few hours volunteering at a shelter.

    1. Volunteering at a shelter is honestly so much fun, you meet so many awesome people in the same situation as you. Plus if you can round up a few friends, a ton of places sell dinners already made to save you the stress of cooking!!