College Thanksgiving: How to Spend Thanksgiving Break When You Can’t Go Home

Ideas to make the most of the break when you can’t go home.

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The best college thanksgiving ideas for when you can't go home over Thanksgiving break

At my college, Thanksgiving Break is a four day weekend. It’s enough time to warrant some fun, but not long enough to make buying a plane ticket home worth it. So I usually have a college Thanksgiving instead of going home.

While spending Thanksgiving away from family can be hard, that doesn’t mean that you have to waste vacation time sitting in your dorm!

Keep reading for several ideas for how to spend Thanksgiving Break at college when you can’t go home. Even if Thanksgiving isn’t your thing, there will still be fun ideas on this list that you can use!

Related reading: 20 Cute and Cozy Thanksgiving Dinner Outfits


Girl taking food from a table.

Friendsgiving is basically a Thanksgiving dinner, but celebrated with friends instead of family! Some people do this in addition to a family dinner, but it would also make a great substitute if you can’t make it home for the holiday.

{RELATED POST: What to Wear to Friendsgiving}

If your group isn’t great at cooking, don’t worry! You can do a potluck, assigning everyone one dish and using both homemade and store bought foods. Friendsgiving is also an excuse to DIY some fun Friendsgiving decorations!

No matter how you decide to celebrate your Friendsgiving, it will be a great way to spend time with your friends who are like family.

Spend the Holiday with a Friend’s Family


If you have friends who live near your college, ask them if you can join their family for Thanksgiving dinner. Not only will you get a meal, you’ll also get to meet your friend’s family and explore their hometown. It can also be interesting just to see how other people celebrate a holiday.

Go Camping

Two friends camping.

If you live somewhere where it doesn’t snow, a camping trip could be a great way to spend the break.

It’s likely there’s a National Park or campgrounds somewhere near your campus. So find some friends, a ride, and camping supplies and spend Thanksgiving roasting s’mores under the stars!

Explore the City

A person walking in San Fransisco.

Chances are, there are some cities near your college that you haven’t been to yet. Dedicate a day or the entire break to getting to know a new city.

If you want to stay for multiple days, save money by staying in a hostel or AirBNB, or asking friends if they know anyone that lives there you could stay with.

Make Art

Colorful watercolor.

If you enjoy creating art, you’ve probably been waiting to do that big project until you have some free time. Why not dedicate the break to creating your next masterpiece? This is one of my favorite college Thanksgiving ideas to try, because we could all use a little more creative fun in our lives.

If you don’t have art supplies at the ready, you could still find some simple DIY projects to do, or even attempt some nail art!


Hand holding pen, writing.

If you like to write, the break could be a great opportunity to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo takes place from November 1 to November 30, but it’s never too late to start. The goal is to get words on a page, after all. Who knows, your Thanksgiving Break project could wind up being a bestseller!

Related reading: 16 Thanksgiving Nail Ideas for This Fall Season



Volunteering is a great thing to do any time of the year, but it can be especially meaningful at Thanksgiving.

Look up your local homeless shelter, church, or food bank and see if they need any volunteers. Chances are, they could use help serving Thanksgiving dinner!

Which of these college Thanksgiving ideas would you try?

How do you spend Thanksgiving break at college? Let us know in the comments!

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