How To Celebrate Thanksgiving Alone & Still Be Genuinely Grateful For What You Have
As much as we’d all love to gather around the dinner table with family and friends for the holidays, sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe you’re a college student with responsibilities keeping you on campus, or perhaps multiple states and sky-high airfare prices are separating you and your fam this year. Whatever the situation may be, if you’re not going home for the holidays, and you're wondering how to celebrate Thanksgiving alone, trust me when I say you can still have just as happy of a holiday flying solo (because, hello, more pumpkin pie for you).
Of course, missing out on family traditions can definitely be a bit of a bummer, but Thanksgiving is still all about being grateful, right? So it's important to remember that, even if you're spending Turkey Day alone, it's still in your best interest to focus on the positives.
For starters, eating Thanksgiving dinner alone means there will be no debating who gets to eat the second turkey wing (it's all you, my friend), or dealing with unnecessary stress over the painful, inevitable small talk you usually suffer through with Aunt Sue, who just can't seem to understand why you're still single, and more importantly, why you don't want to talk about it (cringe).
Having total freedom to do what you want, when you want around the holidays can be daunting, and certainly a little lonely at first. But trust me, there are so many benefits to celebrating solo. Here are a few ways to live it up on your own this Thanksgiving.
1. Follow Tradition No Matter What
If Thanksgiving for you means starting off the day by eating buttered toast, sipping black coffee, and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, do it! Do all of it. Just because you're not spending the holiday with your family doesn't mean you can't continue on with tradition wherever you are.
Dr. Erika Martinez, licensed psychologist and founder of Miami Shrinks, suggests considering what it is that gets you in the holiday mood, and putting these things into motion — especially when it comes to food.
"Whip up some yummy traditional foods in small batches for yourself, or order takeout from chains like Boston Market that have the trimmings without the cooking hassle," Martinez tells Elite Daily. "You can even go to a Thanksgiving dinner seating, as many local restaurants have them."
2. Join In On Your Community's Turkey Trot
I know what you must be thinking: exercise — really? Yes, really. I totally understand if the holidays are your days off from the gym, but you know what they say about endorphins making you happy? It's all true!
Millennial life coach Jess Hopkins says that because exercise boosts your dopamine production and receptivity in the brain, getting active over the holiday season practically guarantees you'll be in a good mood, regardless of whether you're surrounded by family or riding solo.
"Many communities organize group races on Thanksgiving, which provides a great opportunity to move your body and feel socially connected," Hopkins tells Elite Daily.
3. Break Out The Bakeware
Holidays are the perfect excuse to fill your dorm or apartment with sweet treats to share (or not). The best part about spending Turkey Day solo is, arguably, the fact that you can eat as much as you want, of whatever you want, and no one's around to make shame-y comments, steal the last slice of pie, or judgmentally watch you unbutton your pants for a few seconds of relief.
If you don't have definitive plans for dinner, skip the bird and jump right into dessert. Erica McCurdy, MCC, tells Elite Daily that celebrating Thanksgiving by yourself is an opportune time to practice your baking skills for the upcoming holiday season.
"Try out new cookie and pie recipes as well as more savory dishes," McCurdy suggests. "Plus the smell of baking is shown to make people happy!"
If you're less of a from-scratch baker and more of a by-the-box chick, I highly suggest any of the Simple Mills almond flour baking mixes or Foodstirs holiday goodies like organic chocolate chippy pumpkin bread and very merry gingerbread cookies.
4. Actually Watch Netflix And Chill
Holidays are for relaxing, so if you're not much of a cook and you don't feel like mooching off your roommate's family dinner, order in and grant yourself a free pass to be a couch potato for the day, because seriously, you've earned it.
Celebrating Thanksgiving by yourself is an invitation to watch non-stop, uninterrupted television for a full 24 hours, McCurdy tells Elite Daily. Get comfy in your favorite pajamas, eat all the junk food, and enjoy having total control over the remote for once because, sorry not sorry, not everyone loves watching football between courses.
5. Give To Those Less Fortunate
It's easy to fall into a slump if you're celebrating Thanksgiving alone. Maybe you recently lost a loved one, or the trek back home is a little too far for a day trip. Any circumstance that causes you to miss holidays with the fam is unfortunate, but it helps to know that, despite the odds seemingly working against you this year, you have a family and loved ones to miss, and who miss you back.
Rather than sulking over the fact that you're eating takeout for Turkey Day dinner, do something for others who may not have a roof over their heads or a family to go home to at all. Filmmaker and mental health activist Elyse Fox suggests getting out of the house and giving back.
"Giving back always makes me feel great," Fox tells Elite Daily. "It's really fun to make care packages for those in need and pass them out to the homeless/less fortunate [during your walk]."
6. Do Something Sweet For Yourself
It's always better to give rather than receive. But, come on friends, I think we can all agree we need a little self-appreciation and personal pampering every now and then.
If it's not possible to get to your parents' house for your own festivities, take full advantage of a day completely to yourself. Take a bath with bubbles or salts (I've recently been loving Crystal Hills myself), give yourself a mani/pedi, or skip self-treatments and book a full day at the spa to let someone else do all the work.
After all, Thanksgiving doesn't have to be spent chowing down on delicious poultry and finishing off with a slice (or three) of pie, ladies.
7. Give Thanks
Once in a while, when conversation dies down around the dinner table, my family and I like to share one thing we're thankful for, and it's usually a struggle trying to pick just one.
Even if this hasn't been your day, week, month, or even your year (yep, I went there), Thanksgiving is here to remind you that no matter what happens in life, there's always something to be thankful for. Instead of wallowing in self-pity about being alone on Thanksgiving, turn that frown upside down by drafting a gratitude list.
Martinez tells Elite Daily,
Before sitting down to eat your meal, grab some paper and a pen and reflect on what this year has given you. What are you thankful for, personally, professionally, etc?
What didn't turn out as expected this year that wound up being a blessing in disguise? Write those things down. What are you hoping for next year to bring you? Write those wishes, too. Imagine they've already happened, send thanks. and trust that those things will happen by this time next year.