Ideas for Spending Thanksgiving Alone
Are you going to be all alone on Thanksgiving? Sometimes people are alone during the holidays by choice and other times by chance.
When you have social anxiety, it can be a little of both. Perhaps part of you really wants to be with family and friends, but another part of you feels anxious about the whole holiday.
I can relate! I love all the traditions of Thanksgiving and taking the time to celebrate the holiday. But, I also know the feeling of being overwhelmed and burnt out from so much social activity.
This year in particular, many will be alone for Thanksgiving just because of the state of the world. So, I’ve come up with a list of ways on how to celebrate Thanksgiving alone for those who will be home alone on Thanksgiving.
Do Some Writing
If you want to feel better about being alone on Thanksgiving, try writing in a journal. Research has shown journaling to be an effective way to boost your mood. Writing about things you are grateful for is one way to do that.
You could also try writing about goals you want to achieve, your thoughts and feelings about being alone, or any other topic that comes to mind. You could even use a sunburst gratitude worksheet like the one I describe in this post.
Watch TV, Netflix, or Prime Video
Thanksgiving can be a good day to “Netflix and Chill” as they say. Choose a series you’ve always wanted to watch, a movie you love, or a Thanksgiving classic.
If you haven’t already, sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime and you’ll be able to enjoy a range of free movies through Prime Video right away. I find they have a selection that nicely complements what you find on Netflix.
Thanksgiving could also be the day that you “splurge” and rent or buy one of the movies you’ve been wanting to see.
Declutter Your Belongings
I’ll be honest, I never quite got on board with the decluttering movement. I tend to be a “hold on to it forever” person. That changed for me recently when I started using outfit formulas and a capsule wardrobe.
I realized that the stuff in my life was actually preventing me from having the life I want. Not only that, but by holding on to “stuff” I was subconsciously telling myself that I didn’t have enough.
Once you change your mindset to a place of having enough, you’ll start to be able to let things go that are no longer serving you. It’s quite a freeing feeling. One way I make it fun is to find a “essentials” list for the room or category of things I want to declutter.
For example, I took inspiration from the Fresh Exchange when I went through my kitchen. Then I made a list of things I need to add to my kitchen. This meant I would get to go on a hunt to find those items, which felt more fun to me than just getting rid of stuff. Once you have your essentials list, you realize that everything else is just extra.
So, you could spend this Thanksgiving making an “essentials” list for one area of your life such as your wardrobe or kitchen.
If you find yourself feeling down about being alone on Thanksgiving, try going outside for a walk or hike. Research has shown outdoor activity to lead to a better mood compared to sitting inside or even walking on a treadmill.
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This can be particularly helpful if you live with seasonal depression or tend to feel down this time of year. Choose somewhere beautiful to walk. Where I live, the leaves are changing colors in the fall. It’s the prettiest time of year to walk in nature areas.
If the weather is not good, you could also do some yoga or do an online workout video.
Connect with Others Online
If you are alone on Thanksgiving but have friends or family living afar, consider alternative ways to connect.
You could arrange to do a Facetime or Zoom while you eat your Thanksgiving meal. Or, you could host a watch party on Facebook and watch a favorite movie together while you eat your dessert.
You could even incorporate a contest into your online meet-up, such as who can create the most interesting centerpiece.
If you don’t have anyone to connect with through Facetime or Zoom, you could still connect with others online by playing online games or posting photos on social media of what you are doing for Thanksgiving. Post a photo of your hike or the meal that you’ve cooked and see if others respond.
Start a Project
Have you wanted to learn a new hobby or try a new project? You could turn Thanksgiving into an annual tradition of the first day that you tried something new.
Having a hobby can also make it easier to make small talk, especially if it’s something that you really enjoy.
Ideas might include doing a cross stitch, starting a jigsaw puzzle, trying a crochet project, or buying a kit to start growing succulents.
Read/Listen to a Book
If you know that you will be alone on Thanksgiving, it could be the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book, or put on some headphones and listen to an audiobook.
If you haven’t tried Audible, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and start listening right away. Audible is an audiobook subscription service through Amazon that gives you a credit each month to choose an audiobook to add to your library.
I like this service because it ensures I will listen to at least one book a month. You can also exchange a book if you find you don’t like it and pause the service for up to 3 months if you know you won’t be using it.
Below are some book recommendations to get you started.
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works
- The Happiness Project
Eat Good Food
Just because you will be alone on Thanksgiving, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some good food.
Make this a day to relax and indulge in your dream dinner. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money, either.
It could mean simply getting your favorite takeout food. It might mean packing up a picnic basket of your takeout and taking it to a local park (weather permitting).
Even if you are alone, you might take a moment to light a candle and pour yourself a glass of wine (or your favorite beverage).
If you like to cook, consider making a whole feast for yourself. You could make a fancy dessert. Or make yourself waffles piled high with berries and whipped cream for breakfast.
If you do have some local friends and family but can’t get together, consider doing a socially distanced potluck. This means each person is assigned to make a certain number of single servings of one part of the meal. Then, you all meet up at a pre-determined location and collect the other parts of your meal.
This way, no one person has to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner for themselves, and everyone gets to enjoy trying each other’s dishes. Just be sure to include reheating instructions.
Also – try putting on some relaxing music while you eat to improve the ambience. Whatever you would do for your guests, try doing for yourself.
(If you need some Thanksgiving alone humor, watch the video below from Youtuber Cayla Brady)
Why not? Black Friday is almost upon you, so you might as well start scouring for deals. Go online and make a plan for your Christmas shopping or scope out the best Black Friday deals. Again, if you don’t already have Amazon Prime, be sure to sign up so that you can save on shipping (plus get some free movies to watch while you are alone).
If you do have traditions from childhood or previous family gatherings that you enjoy, then go back to those traditions. That might mean decorating your house, watching the Macy’s Day Parade on TV, watching football, or something else. You get to choose which traditions you want to uphold when you are alone on Thanksgiving.
Get Some Sleep
Thanksgiving is a holiday from work for most people. Consider sleeping in or taking a nap. Nobody is going to mind if you get some extra sleep today. If you’ve been feeling stressed or like you haven’t been getting enough rest, this could be the perfect day to take it.
Be Helpful to Others
One way to feel better about your own situation is to focus on how you can help other people. If you have a roof over your head and enough food not to go hungry, then you are more fortunate than those who do not have those things.
Do something that makes you feel good about what you are doing. That might mean dropping off food at the local food bank, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or doing random acts of kindness.
Reach Out for Help
Finally, if you really find that you are struggling and it’s more than just feeling down about being alone on Thanksgiving, consider reaching out for help. I recommend Betterhelp online therapy if you are looking to speak to a licensed mental health professional at an affordable price. My readers receive 20% off their first month of therapy.
If you are feeling alone on Thanksgiving, know that there are many other people going through the same feelings as you. I hope that you found some ideas in this post to get you through the holiday.
Related Articles about Holiday Stress
- Coping with Anxiety During the Holidays
- Is it Normal to Have No Friends?
- How to Be Happy Alone
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Alone on Thanksgiving (13 Ways to Cope)
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Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope you’ll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, I’ll earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
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