Posted 11/12/13 by Brinton Parker in Entertainment

Your Guide To Making Thanksgiving Amazing

If you’re going to college far away from home or work in your college town, sometimes it’s just not feasible to go home for Thanksgiving break. Tickets are even more expensive during the holidays, and oftentimes work will only give you one or two days off (if any!) during breaks. This leaves a lot of lonely college students in their apartments or dorms, wondering how exactly their families managed to pull off such amazing feasts every year at home! Well, Living the College Life is here to help. We know how confusing it can be to roast a turkey for the first time, or create unique Thanksgiving dinner decorations for your other stranded pals… so we’ve done all the heavy lifting. This is your guide to making Thanksgiving amazing. 

Step 1: Invite Others

This is one of the creative Thanksgiving dinner invites that you can print for free at MoritzFineBlogDesigns.com!

Maybe your lab partner in organic chemistry mentioned that they’re stuck in the dorms during fall break, or your coworker is sad about  being distanced from family on November 28th. What better way to make their (and your!) Thanksgiving better than to invite them over for your first home-cooked feast? Thanksgiving is a day for celebrating friendship and being grateful for all the good things in life… this is much easier to do when surrounded by people who make you smile. Don’t worry if they’re not über-close with your other friends, either; it’s fun getting to know people better over a delicious meal.

As for the invites, we’ve got you covered. Check out these cute (free!!!) printable invitations from Moritz Fine Blog Designs! Alert your planned attendees to keep an eye on their mailbox, and surprise them by doing things the old-fashioned way. Receiving something other than junk mail can be extremely refreshing, especially if it’s an invite to hang with friends on a potentially lonely day. In your invite, you can also include a request for a dish… ask one person to bring a side dish, one to bring dessert, another for beer, and assign cup/napkin/paperware duty to another invitee.

2. Start Decorating

If you’re the type who likes to do everything 100%, you’ll probably want to spruce up your place with some autumn-appropriate decorations. It makes Thanksgiving dinner feel nice, rather than just something thrown together at the last minute! We found some easy DIY table settings and decorations to make your college pad look festive for feasting.

This table-setting by A Bird’s Leap is perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, and easy to DIY with just some paper and word-processing software.

First, get the step-by-step directions for these thankfulness-filled place settings at A Bird’s Leap. Everyone can write their own, and then you can share what you’re thankful for over dinner.

These cup toppers are fun and easy to do with basic construction paper.

You can add a festive touch to your beverages of choice with some cup-toppers from Rachel Ray’s website. Get the how-to here.

These “name cards” are so easy! All you need are leaves (easy to find in the fall), gold spray paint, and a Sharpie.

These leafy seat assignments look difficult, but are extremely cheap and easy to make. The instructions can be found here.

This “Be Thankful” banner can be hung above a door, the table, or just somewhere visible to your guests.

Finally, the geniuses over at Poppytalk wrote out some detailed instructions for how to create your own Thanksgiving banner. They use felt, but we have a sneaking suspicion that you could use the leftover construction paper from your Pilgrim-hat-cup-toppers!

3. Prepare Ahead

The secret to your parents’ seemingly flawless timing on Thanksgiving is all in the do-ahead dishes. Sides, appetizers, and desserts can all be prepped the day before, leaving you with nothing to worry about but the turkey! Here are our picks for some easy dishes that you can make ahead of time… leave the rest to the people you’ve invited.

These cranberry-corn muffins from Lemon Tree Dwelling combine three Thanksgiving staples… cranberry sauce, corn, and hot rolls!

These deliciously sweet muffins can be eaten with dinner, or after as a dessert dish. At only 20 minutes of baking time, they’ll be easy to fix before the big-day… if you can avoid eating them all before your guests arrive!

Who doesn’t love bacon?

These bacon and mushroom green beans don’t take much time to prepare, and can be served hot or room temperature. We say make ’em a day ahead, then stick them in the oven to heat up before guests are ready to eat!

Jello shots are a college staple, even on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time for thankfulness, friendship, and… Jell-O shots? We say yes! These cranberry Jell-O shots will taste amazing and get a good buzz on, just in time for dinner. Prep them ahead of time, following the instructions over at A Beautiful Mess.

4. The Turkey

There are many ways to do it… frying, roasting, turducken-ing. All of these methods are great! It’s up to you to decide how you’d like to serve up the main dish. Tons of resources online help ease the mind about the turkey-cooking process, so fear not! However, we’ve chosen a recipe/tutorial that seems simply perfect for a great Thanksgiving with friends.

The ladies over at A Beautiful Mess describe perfectly the anxiety that comes with preparing the Thanksgiving day turkey, and ease that anxiety by giving step-by-step instructions for how to cook the prefect bird.

The art of cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is difficult, but the bloggers at A Beautiful Mess spell out every step to making it perfect. From picking a good bird, to making it look aesthetically pleasing, this article outlines the entire process of preparing an excellent main course for your Thanksgiving meal.

5. Enjoy Yourself

Whether you choose to watch the parade or football games, have one friend over or fifteen… make sure that you have a great Thanksgiving. Have fun with it! You may not be able to go home and spend the holiday with your family, but that doesn’t mean that the holiday can’t be great.


What are your Thanksgiving plans? Let us know in the comments below!

Brinton Parker

Brinton is a third year student at the University of California, Davis and is majoring in English, with a minor in Textiles & Clothing. Her passion (at the risk of sounding extremely cliché) is fashion, as well as writing, cooking, fitness, and movies. Pursuing a career in magazine journalism is the next check on her to-do list.