Thanksgiving is a special time of year that is a reminder to appreciate all the good things that you have in your life. Just because you are in a small town in Scotland doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate, and though the holiday may be behind us, that’s no reason not to start looking ahead to next year! To that end, I’ve provided an outline below of how you can host your very own Thanksgiving dinner here in St Andrews!
Create a Guest List
The first step in the process is determining how many people can fit in your flat or dorm. Start by counting how many chairs and plates you have! For invitations, I’d recommend sending out e-vites or creating a group chat to let everyone know when and where the celebration is taking place. In this day and age, it’s also important to take precautions regarding Covid. Ask people to take a lateral flow test and perhaps invite fewer people to leave some elbow room at the table.
Create a Menu (and Divide it Up!)
After determining the final headcount for the meal, write down the meals that need to be prepared. Some examples of classic Thanksgiving dishes include turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, roasted vegetables, butternut squash soup, sweet potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, and pies of any kind. By making it a potluck, everyone can make one or two things without having the fuss of preparing an entire three-course meal. Also, take the time to ask everyone about dietary restrictions/food intolerances to ensure that everyone is welcome and has something to eat!
Go Grocery Shopping
This step is arguably the most important when it comes to hosting an American Thanksgiving abroad. Certain foods from home are hard to find (cornbread mix, Stove Top stuffing mix, etc.), so leave time to find them or acceptable replacements. In St Andrews, there are quite a few grocery stores and shops to find all the ingredients you need. Turkeys can be purchased from Morrison’s or the butcher; Tesco has pumpkin puree for soups or pies; Luvians has wine to mull, and check out Paperchase for decorations. For potato fanatics, Morrison’s has a 7.5kg bag which I can personally attest to being both needed and intimidating. Before you order or go out, make sure there is enough room in the fridge and cabinets to store everything when you need to unpack the bags!
Get Cooking and Decorate
Early on Thanksgiving morning, it’s time to start chopping vegetables and basting the turkey. You can print out recipes or write out lists to make sure nothing gets forgotten. Remember to look at the timings of preparing and cooking each dish to make sure that they are ready around the same time. While the sides and mains are baking away, set the table and decorate. Tablecloths, streamers, and candles can all add to the atmosphere.
This is easily the best part of Thanksgiving. Gathered around a table with people you love with plenty of food piled high on your plate, you get to celebrate all that you’re thankful for in your lives. Go around the table and ask everyone what they are thankful for, and start passing around all the different delicious foods guests and hosts alike have prepared. After dinner, there are several different things you can do: help with cleaning up, play games, rest, or throw something on the TV. Although slightly later in the night, A Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, Macy’s Parade, or NFL games can still be watched. You can still take part in the traditions you grew up with and share them with friends who either celebrated in different ways or never participated in a Thanksgiving before.
Although it’s far from the table I grew up circled around and the recipes aren’t *quite* right, the essence of the holiday is present. And though some of us may end up missing home on Thanksgiving, I am always grateful to be celebrating in my new one. After a quick post-dinner nap, I’ll call my family and join in on their festivities and prepare for delicious leftovers the next day.