Who says you have to go home for the holidays? If you live far from campus or are just content staying where you are, you can still host a memorable Thanksgiving at school. Sure, the dorm kitchens might not offer a *ton* of space to cook a multi-course meal. If you’re stuck living in a single suite, you probably don’t have a lot of room to entertain your guests, either. Fear not — the most exciting parts of the holiday season are the ones that you improvise. Trust me, those moments always make for the best stories to tell around the table.
Before you can break the wishbone this Thanksgiving, break tradition. Gather your friends or family (or both!), dress in your finest fall attire, and prepare to eat as you’ve never eaten before. Whether your turkey comes straight from the farm or from the frozen aisle of Trader Joe’s, so long as you’re surrounded by those you hold dear, your Thanksgiving is sure to be a hit. ‘Tis the season for love and gratitude, after all.
- Decorate your space.
You don’t have to limit the fun to your dorm room. If you anticipate a lot of company, move the party to your common room or book a classroom on campus. Spice up the space with a festive table runner, some foliage garlands, and enough plates to hold a mountain of mashed potatoes. Can we all agree that mashed potatoes are the best side dish? I refuse to hear otherwise.
- Plan your meals (and make them manageable!).
If I could summarize my college experience in two words, they would be “budgeting” and “grocery shopping” (OK, I guess that’s three words). Set aside a certain amount of money for your Thanksgiving dishes, and let the meal prepping begin. There’s no shame in buying pre-prepared meals, but if you’re up for the challenge, there are endless possibilities for easy recipes you can make. Just keep in mind what appliances and cooking space you have when planning your meals. Of course, you’ll probably want a cocktail menu to dazzle your guests, too.
- Provide the entertainment.
When it comes to movies and songs, Thanksgiving doesn’t hold a candle to Christmas. Still, there’s enough Thanksgiving-themed content to last you the day, from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to all the iconic Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. And who could forget the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special? I don’t know why, but that toast and popcorn feast always looked so appetizing. If you’d rather keep yourselves entertained with good conversation, you can always throw on a playlist for some ambience.
- Go for a post-dinner walk.
Some people choose to nap after their meal (it’s me, I’m the people). If you’re not in a turkey-induced coma, a walk is a good way to refresh your appetite in time for dessert. Gather your friends for a stroll around campus, or explore a nearby nature trail. When you get back to school, you’ll have a pumpkin pie waiting for you.
- Get involved in the community.
Thanksgiving is the time to give back to your community, both on campus and beyond. Look into any volunteer opportunities your school might offer, from helping out at food pantries to contributing to (or organizing) a clothing drive. Every Thanksgiving, it’s important to reflect on the origins of the holiday as well. To show your support of Indigenous communities, you can make a donation to organizations such as Women Empowering Women for Indigenous Nations and Native American Rights Fund. You can also make a purchase at Native-owned small businesses, like Cheekbone Beauty and Bison Naturals, to name a couple.