6 Thanksgiving ideas for college students away from home

By Sam Graudins

Thanksgiving break can be a weird one — you have enough time off from school to relax and unwind, but not always enough to take the plane trip home. If it’s not within your means to travel home for the weekend, here are some ways you can get into the Thanksgiving spirit at your home away from home!

Thanksgiving with friends

1. Host your own Thanksgiving

All you need to make Thanksgiving possible is a big meal and friends to share it with. You’re definitely not the only person staying behind for the holiday, and definitely not the only hungry one, either, so make it happen! Reach out to friends or acquaintances on social media and give some lost souls a place to gather and be grateful. Whether it’s a potluck, restaurant, or just a quick run to the local fast food joint, your friends will undoubtedly appreciate a way to spend time with their loved ones. When it comes to Thanksgiving, your college family can be just as fun — and you don’t have to talk about your career goals with every relative at the table, either!

2. Join a friend's Thanksgiving

You may not be able to go home, but that doesn’t mean you can't have a family Thanksgiving. If you have friends who live in the area, politely ask if you can pay them a visit! Thanksgiving is a holiday of, well, giving, and more often than not, families will be happy to share in the celebration — and your friend will be grateful to have you as a buffer between them and crazy relatives! Of course, never invite yourself into someone’s home, but if someone is making you the offer, this could be the year you finally accept.

3. Skype into dinner

If you have a smart device and your holiday is more about bonding with your family than the turkey and cranberry sauce, why not beam yourself into Thanksgiving dinner on video chat? A lot of parents would be thrilled to see your shining face at the dinner table, pixelated or not, and this is a great way to share in the festivities without cost of traveling.

Thanksgiving solo

4. Have a DIY holiday

The suggestions so far have involved other people, but if you’re more of a homebody, there are still ways to show your gratitude on this day of thanks. Instead of organizing eating plans, why not send a thankful message over Facebook, a handwritten letter, or a simple sentimental gift? Being with friends and family is about showing that you care, so a heartfelt message or gift may be even more special than a meal. Whether it’s a framed picture, an autumn leaf from your city, or a handwritten card thanking them for being in your life, it’s the perfect opportunity to tell someone you love them.

5. Volunteer!

What better way to give thanks than by giving back? This Thanksgiving, lend a hand to the people who need it most! Volunteering is an excellent way to spend the holiday, and help is always needed. Look for a soup kitchen, food pantry, or other charitable organization and donate your time to help out your community.

6. Do that thing you've always wanted to do

Thanksgiving is a holiday with many conventions — but that doesn’t mean you have to adhere to any of them! This is your time off, so if you end up ditching the Thanksgiving feast this year, do something you’ve always wanted to do in your town or city. That could mean visiting museums, going on a hike, seeing a movie, working on a personal project, or doing absolutely nothing. All are perfectly acceptable! School can be a lot of work, and you’ve earned your holiday — whatever that ends up meaning to you!

Use our Scholarship Match to find scholarships that are perfect for you, and you could be giving thanks for free college money!

About the author

Sam Graudins, Emerson College studentSam is a life blogger from Franklin, Massachusetts with a big heart and a bigger appetite for sweets. She loves Korean bakeries, Japanese animation, and providing you insight into her college experience. Sam is a second-year communication studies major at Emerson College with a minor in gender studies, and she’s over the moon about sharing tips on how to have a fully-custom college experience. “Standardization is a rejection of creativity. Do you and do it big!”