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How to Make Thanksgiving Festive When Celebrating Alone

There have been times when Abby Slutsky has spent holidays alone. These tips can help make your holiday more festive and less lonely.

Thanksgiving might look a little different this year, but that doesn't mean you can't have a holiday to remember.

Thanksgiving might look a little different this year, but that doesn't mean you can't have a holiday to remember.

Celebrating Thanksgiving alone can mean different things for different people this year. In some instances, you may be unable to gather with local, single friends who do not have families. In other circumstances, your household may need to celebrate at home with no extended family this year. For some, this Thanksgiving may include a meal for one. Perhaps you live alone, do not have friends or family nearby, and typically celebrate Thanksgiving alone by going out to a restaurant or eating at home.

Let’s look at each scenario and go over some ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving by yourself. No matter your situation, you can have a memorable Thanksgiving that feels festive and is likely to be less stressful than entertaining a crowd.

In This Article

  1. Celebrating With Friends From Afar
  2. Celebrating With Your Household Only
  3. Celebrating by Yourself
Coordinating Thanksgiving meal preparation and seeing your friends from afar when you pick up everyone's contributions can help make the holiday more festive.

Coordinating Thanksgiving meal preparation and seeing your friends from afar when you pick up everyone's contributions can help make the holiday more festive.

1. Celebrate Thanksgiving With Friends From Afar

Maybe you are used to celebrating Thanksgiving with local friends instead of family. Unfortunately, this year, the annual friends’ Thanksgiving gathering is not going to happen. Your friends are just not comfortable getting together in a big group.

However, that does not mean that you cannot plan to make each other food, pick it up at one person’s residence, and then return to your own home to heat and eat Thanksgiving dinner alone. Planning to pick up Thanksgiving food that each of you make can give you something to do during the day so you do not feel alone while everyone is busy with their families. As an added touch, you can leave each person a note about what you are grateful for, and, if desired, you could share the notes over a zoom call while you are eating.

Contact the Friends You Usually See for Thanksgiving

Make a list of items you usually eat at the meal and ask each friend to make one item and package it in single portions. Give each person a designated location to pick up their portion. For example, Troy will pick up his portions at the designated location by the front door; Gary will get his individual Thanksgiving meal by the garage door, and Luanne will pick up her items by the backyard porch.

Designate a Place to Pick Up the Food

Give everyone a time to meet at one house. One-at-a-time, get out of the car and put your food in its designated place. It helps if the host house sets out a large bag in each area, so each person can easily transfer their Thanksgiving feast to the car. Once the meals are all placed in separate bags, each participant can collect theirs. Even though you will not be close to your friends during pickup, you can wear masks and wave "hello" as you get your feast.

The beauty of picking up the food is that you will still have your traditional Thanksgiving meal made by your friends, and no one will have to make everything or pick up a prepared supermarket meal. Since you will each be picking up your food in a different area, you can plan on getting your food at the same time. Do not forget to include reheating directions for your portion of the meal. This will make it easy for everyone to time their food perfectly when they reheat it for dinner.

Plan on Eating at the Same Time on Zoom or Another Video-Chat Service

Discuss when you will warm up the food and plan on eating at the same time. You can plan a Zoom meal to interact or just have a big conference call so you can chatter with each other while you eat.

Have a Thanksgiving Centerpiece Contest

For added fun, plan on having a Thanksgiving centerpiece contest. Each friend can prepare a centerpiece to adorn the table where they are eating. Text photos of the centerpieces to everyone and let each person vote on which centerpiece they think is the best. (No voting for your own, though.) Sharing your centerpieces will help make the holiday festive, and you will be more likely to celebrate at a Thanksgiving themed table instead of plunking your meal in front of the television.

2. Celebrate Thanksgiving With Only Your Household

In this situation, you may not really be spending Thanksgiving by yourself because your immediate family (or roommates/whoever you cohabitate with) will be with you. Nevertheless, your gathering is likely to involve fewer people than last year. If you have a large family, the atmosphere could feel less festive than usual or seem a bit lonely.

Nevertheless, there are advantages to celebrating Thanksgiving with just your immediate family/household. You can make all of your immediate family’s favorites, and you'll have fewer dishes to clean than you would if your extended family came. In fact, if your family does not like turkey, you do not even have to make one. After all, the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy are really the best parts, no?

Additionally, you will not have to clean your house for relatives who might notice if something is amiss. All in all, you are likely to have a more relaxing, enjoyable day than if you were running around frantically preparing food and cleaning in order to entertain.

Make the Thanksgiving Meal as Casual or Fancy as You Like

Discuss the meal with your family so everyone can share what they would like. Plan how you are going to serve the meal. It does not have to be at a fancy table. If desired, you could have it picnic-style in front of your fireplace or in your backyard, weather permitting. The important part is that you celebrate in a manner that makes everyone happy.

Plan a Thanksgiving Activity Before or After the Meal

During the meal, you can share some things you are grateful for. After the meal, consider streaming a Thanksgiving movie and eating dessert while you watch it. If desired, call or video chat your extended family to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

A glass of wine can help make your Thanksgiving meal more festive.

A glass of wine can help make your Thanksgiving meal more festive.

3. Celebrate Thanksgiving by Yourself

Thanksgiving for one does not have to be lonely. Plan on making the day purely about you. If you love to cook, make whatever meal you enjoy most. If you feel a turkey is too large, you can make a cornish hen or chicken. Alternately, you can purchase sliced turkey and make or purchase sides to go with it.

Small Details Can Add a Festive Touch to Your Thanksgiving Meal

There are several ways you can make your individual Thanksgiving meal feel special:

  • Use nice china or pretty disposable plates and give yourself a break from doing dishes.
  • Enjoy a glass of wine.
  • If you eat at the table, light a candle to provide some festive ambiance to your meal.

Add Some Background Noise to Your Thanksgiving Celebration

Create some noise so the meal does not feel lonely. Here are some ideas:

  • Play some dinner music while you eat.
  • Listen to an audio book during your meal.
  • Watch a movie while you dine.

Plan a Post-Thanksgiving Meal Activity

After your Thanksgiving meal, make the evening about you by doing something you enjoy. Keeping busy will help prevent you from feeling lonely. Here are some ideas:

  • Shop online for holiday gifts.
  • Take a jacuzzi or bath with scented oil, a bath pillow, and a good book. Toss a towel in the dryer and take it out right before you bathe. A warm towel will help you feel luxurious as you're drying off.
  • Exercise to a favorite workout tape an hour or two after you eat.
  • Play an online game.
  • Make a shopping list if you intend to go Black Friday shopping. Research sales so you know the best places to shop for each gift, then plan your shopping route based on store hours.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Abby Slutsky

Comments

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on November 02, 2020:

Yes, we are having a very small gathering this year-just immediate family.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on November 02, 2020:

You have listed some great ideas here. I love the Zoom video chat idea you mentioned with friends. This year will definitely be a very different holiday season for all of us.

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on November 01, 2020:

Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your time.

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on November 01, 2020:

Thanks for reading. I think it will be different.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 01, 2020:

Abby, I think you have given us some good suggestions. This is such an unusual year. I guess many people will not have a Thanksgiving that is typical of past years. so thanks for thinking about this situation.

Liza from USA on November 01, 2020:

I'm not so sure if we will celebrate Thanksgiving like previous years but, your tips would work. I have to share these ideas with my mother in law. Thanks for sharing!

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on November 01, 2020:

You are right. Thanks for reading so quickly.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 01, 2020:

You give some great tips. Although we don't have Thanksgiving in the UK, a lot of your ideas are applicable to Christmas. This year it is looking unlikely that the big gatherings of family and friends will be able to go ahead.