Thanksgiving For One: What to Do and Eat When It’s Just You, or You and a Friend

While television commercials portray Thanksgiving as a day where multi-generation families gather around tables loaded with turkey and side dishes, music playing in the background, for some that isn’t the case this year. It isn’t that they’ve never experienced this, or won’t experience it again, but every year can’t be perfect. Perhaps expenses prohibit traveling to meet family this year; perhaps friends have gone out of town.

This doesn’t only apply to unattached people who live alone – the predicament of a lonely Thanksgiving can also be for a man or woman whose spouse has to work on the holiday, or a single parent with children whose friends all have other plans.

While it may be tempting to ignore the day completely, it’s impossible to forget that it’s there. So don’t pretend that it’s “any other day” – celebrate Thanksgiving, in your own way.

Extend Invitations

First of all, look around for someone that may also be alone on Thanksgiving. Is there someone at work who’s in the same situation as you? Invite them to join you for a movie (theaters are surprisingly crowded on Thanksgiving) or for a casual dinner at home. Is there a fellow single parent that lives down the street? Gather the kids and spend the afternoon together.

Don’t be embarrassed about asking – think of how pleased you’d be if they invited you!

Thanksgiving Food: Supermarket Style

It may seem silly and unnecessary to make an entire turkey for just one or two people. But there are other ways to have a Thanksgiving meal.

Head to the prepared foods section of the supermarket and buy sliced turkey with gravy, mashed or sweet potatoes, stuffing and any desired vegetables. Frozen green beans are also an option, as well as canned cranberries. Pick up any other sides, such as dinner rolls or a loaf of seasoned bread. Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple; sometimes supermarkets have miniature pies or tarts instead of whole pies.

If even this is too much food, an even easier option is to purchase a microwave meal from the frozen aisle. There are many versions of the turkey/stuffing/mashed potatoes variety. You can still add additional sides to the meal. Just don’t eat it from the plastic container – arrange it nicely on a plate!

Christmas Movie Time

Thanksgiving is the official (or non-official) start of the Christmas movie season – NBC routinely plays It’s a Wonderful Life on Thanksgiving night. Other classic Christmas films to consider watching are:

  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • Holiday Inn
  • The Bishop’s Wife
  • White Christmas
  • Meet Me in St. Louis

If children want a contemporary, kid-centered Christmas film, have them watch Home Alone or The Santa Clause.

For contemporary adult fare, Love Actually and The Family Stone are two funny, romantic options.

If you’re looking for a holiday film that has spirit but doesn’t “scream” Christmas – consider the film Michael. It’s about an archangel who changes the life of two tabloid reporters and a dog trainer. It’s a comedy, it’s romantic, it takes place near the holiday season but there are no Christmas carols involved.

Give. Volunteer. Learn.

After all, it is just one day a year. If you’re blessed in other ways, extend your blessings to others. Clean out your closet to donate used clothes; gather canned goods for charity; research volunteer options in your neighborhood – some organizations need volunteers simply for Thanksgiving weekend.


On Monday, things will be back to normal.

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