How To Have A Stress-Free Thanksgiving For One

by Kaitlyn Wylde
food, thanksgiving
Liliboas/E+/Getty Images

Whether you are spending Thanksgiving alone by choice or by circumstance, you'll have to commit to the idea of solitude in order to embrace it fully. You're not having a pity party, you're having a solo, stress-free day of gratitude! You can't live in that weird space of wondering if you should join someone else's dinner, or just ignore the holiday all together.

You've got to look at yourself in the mirror, tell yourself that you're going to spend the day alone, and that it's going to be flipping awesome. You're going to make your own rules, you're going to design your own dinner plan, and you're going to have a special day to yourself that you'll remember fondly. You don't have to sorely look back on your Thanksgiving for one. The day will be as positive as you make it.

Most importantly, you'll have to fight the urge to stalk your friends on social media and compare your experience with theirs. From the outside, everyone's holiday dinners will look picturesque and perfect, to the point that whatever festive spirit you've mustered will be sucked out of you like wind. Remember that every photo you look at is staged. Remember that there was definitely a fight that took place before the snap was taken, and an argument that took place after. Remember that for many people, family time is deeply stressful. Remember that families come in all shapes and sizes, and if yours is you and your dog or succulent plant, you're just as worthy of a jolly holiday.

Here are a few ways to make being alone on Thanksgiving not feel lonely:


There are countless homeless shelters and foundations that are always looking for help preparing and distributing meals for those who are not fortunate enough to have access to their own. Not only will it feel good to help, it will help you get some perspective if you need it.

Play Chef

Go to the grocery store and get all the ingredients to make the meal of your dreams. There are no rules, so it doesn't have to involve turkey. Make a pizza, make a pie, make a roast, but whatever you do, make it from scratch. Not only will it give you something to do, it will be a learning experience — and the sense of accomplishment you'll feel when you're done will be worth it. Plus, you'll have leftovers for days to follow. Think of it as holiday-inspired meal prep.

Do A Double Feature

On a day when plenty of businesses are closed except for the movie theater, this is your perfect opportunity to see a double feature. Spend the day watching all the movies you've been waiting to see, and eat all the popcorn and candy you want. The best part about this plan is that if you want to be around people, you can be.

Go Out To Eat

Tons of restaurants will have Thanksgiving specials if you want to get your turkey on without cooking, and tons of restaurants will have regular programming if you have no interest in yams and gravy. Get dressed up, and go out to eat. Have a night where you treat yourself and let someone else take care of you.


If hanging around your apartment alone starts to feel lonely, go on a trip. Just the act of bustling and forcing new air in your lungs will wake you up and give you the energy you need to keep a positive attitude. Take a bus somewhere to see the foliage. Take a train to a hiking trail. Rent a car and go for a drive to a point of interest you've been meaning to see. Use this day to scratch something off your solo bucket list.

Make It Snazzy

If you don't feel like leaving the house, make your home a sanctuary for the day. Clean, do laundry, mop the floors, sweep, burn some incense, and light some candles. Make your home feel like a temple. Put on a movie or your favorite show and have a cozy night. Try to make some time to feel grateful for the roof over your head and the freedom to create your own space and traditions.

Order In

No one's forcing you to have a gourmet meal. If you feel like watching Netflix and eating a cheeseburger while wearing zit cream, it's your divine right. Do you, order that Seamless, eat those soggy fries, and enjoy living in your own United States of whatever.

Images: Liliboas/E+/Getty Images; Giphy