The Lone Turkey – Celebrating Thanksgiving away from home

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What’s not to love about November? This month brings colorful leaves, comfy sweaters and a much higher carb intake than usual. It’s the best time to indulge in that pumpkin pie craving, but also to focus on gratitude. As we all know, November is best known for Thanksgiving, where families gather to reminisce on the past and dream about the future while passing the turkey around the table and discussing topics like new relationships, current events and MSU football.

But, as you’ve probably discovered, life gets a lot more complex as you get older. It’s not as easy to go home whenever you feel like it, because you have to “be responsible.” Whether that responsibility is school or work, you may be forced to face the truth that you will be spending the holiday alone. Cue the world’s smallest violin for your five minute pity party. Okay time’s up, but don’t worry. Here at ing Magazine, we have come up with some turkey-filled alternatives for you to partake in on Turkey Day. We promise that you will still feel as festive and grateful as ever (and not to mention stuffed to the brim).

Table for One, Please.

Most people will immediately assume that spending Thanksgiving alone is devastatingly sad. Anyone who hasn’t spent the holiday away from friends or family may feel this way, but those who have, know that it’s not so bad. Sometimes it’s nice to have downtime, especially when you’ve been busy with stacks of homework and double shifts at work.

If you’re the only one of your friends staying on campus for the holiday, take advantage of your roommate-free time. No more doing your dishes right after eating, sharing the TV, or waiting to go to the bathroom while someone is showering. It’s all yours for the next couple of days. Pure bliss, right? Even the kitchen is gloriously empty, with all the pots and pans at your disposal. With that in mind, brush up on your cooking skills, put on some festive music, grab your adorable holiday-themed oven mitts (thanks, Mom!) and make yourself a Thanksgiving dinner.

Charles Robertson, an MSU senior, gave us a peek into what he would do if he was alone for the holiday.

“If I wasn’t at home for Thanksgiving, my activities for the day would really depend on my location,” Robertson said. “Assuming that I was in East Lansing … I would Facetime [with] my family for as long as I could so that I could talk to them and spend as much time as I could with them. Also, watching football is just a given. I’d get turkey from Meijer and cook that up along with plenty of stuffing and have a little Thanksgiving meal by myself in my house.”

If you’re the type of cook who burns everything (including ramen), don’t fret! The Annual Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner is hosted every year for those lone turkeys out there with an attendance of around 200-400 MSU students. Share some turkey and get to know some other students living around campus.


Another awesome option is to gather some of your friends and host a Friendsgiving dinner. Junior Maya Arsneault told us just what to do if you and your friends are stuck on campus: “This year, I’m an RA and I’m on duty over Thanksgiving weekend, so I cannot leave Case Hall. There are around three of us who will be on campus for duty, so we are planning to get together and order food for the holiday.”

It might also be really fun to try and make a Thanksgiving dinner with your friends. Who wouldn’t want to crack open a beer or have a glass of wine while cooking with some good company? Sounds like a party, but make sure to keep your eyes on the oven.

“Friendsgiving” can be just as real as the typical family Thanksgiving. The benefit to Friendsgiving is that there are no awkward questions from family about your life that leave you feeling uncomfortable. You also get to skip out on the lame jokes and political talk. Starting to sound a bit more enticing, huh?

Join a Friendly Flock

If the first two options just aren’t your style, then how about crashing a friend’s Thanksgiving? You still get to enjoy the family holiday, but with people who aren’t related to you (not to mention you get free food, too). It’s an interesting concept but Katie Bliden, an MSU junior, can confirm that it’s a great alternative.

“So, freshmen year, I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving and I stayed with a family friend instead and joined their family for Thanksgiving dinner. It was really fun, but it was also kind of strange because I’ve never been away from my family on Thanksgiving. Last year, I went to New York with a girl who lived in my dorm and we stayed at her house for Thanksgiving. I got to meet all of her family and spend time with them which was really fun. They have many different traditions than my family’s so that was interesting to experience.”

Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new tradition you enjoy, which you could introduce at your next family Thanksgiving.

These are just a few of the ideas available for you lone turkeys. Whatever you choose to do, whether it’s spending time alone, hanging with friends, visiting family or even just eating pumpkin pie and watching football, remember to be grateful and give thanks!


Amanda Kimmen is a senior majoring in professional writing who is on the editing and publishing track. She has a passion for health and fitness, so you can assume that the gym is her natural habitat. When she isn’t working out, she is usually snuggled up with a good book and a cup of coffee.