Thanksgiving as a single person doesn't have to be lonely.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
woman holding a baked pie with an oven mitt
Credit: eclipse_images / Getty Images

Holidays like Thanksgiving have a way of reminding you that you're single — and it's not just because your aunt always asks about your relationship status. Although some may relish the alone time, others may wish they could spend time with their families.

This year may be especially tough for single folks, chiefly those with family members who are vulnerable to COVID-19. If you're spending the holiday alone, you can still spend it joyfully, whether you want a gourmet feast, a themed day trip, a sense of solace, or the opportunity to help the hungry.

Go Gourmet for One

If you've always wanted to make porchetta, roasted quail, escargot, or Cornish hen, this is the time to treat yourself. We have a treasure trove of Recipes for One if you're worried about making too much. For more inspiration, flip through cookbooks you've never cracked open or check out the menu of a local upscale restaurant. You can cut costs by opting for a vegetarian feast over a host of meaty dishes. And if you don't want to spend hours in the kitchen, check out these 15 Fancy Dinners Ready in 30 Minutes.

Have the Kind of Thanksgiving Your Ex Would Hate

If you're recovering from a breakup this Thanksgiving, why not choose recipes that your partner's tastebuds kept you from cooking? If your ex would have criticized an all-dessert dinner, do it. If you were in a relationship with a hardcore carnivore, go with a 45-minute vegetarian feast just because you can. Is there a restaurant you would have checked out a long time ago if it weren't for your ex? Order takeout for yourself with all the trimmings.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Planning meals and activities around a theme will give you a lot to look forward to. If you wish you could board a plane to Paris, choose a French restaurant or a French menu to make at home. Finish it off with a glass of Bordeaux and a French film or travel documentary. Explore the flavors of Goa, India, with a dish like Goan fish curry or the Emiliana-Romana region of Italy with tagliatelle bolognese. And what's stopping you from traveling to a fictional world? Plan a menu around Star Wars, Harry Potter, or another series.

And you're not limited to staying in. Pack a basket for a picnic at a park where you can watch ducks and geese. Visit a farm (call ahead to find one that's open) and pick up produce to make a true farm-to-table feast.

Volunteer With a Charity

Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to distribute food to those in need. Contact your local soup kitchen, food bank, shelter, church, or Meals on Wheels program about volunteer opportunities. Turkey Day is a popular time to volunteer, so you may not be able to volunteer on the holiday itself. If you can't give in person, organize a group of friends, co-workers, or church members to raise funds to donate to the charity of choice. You can even spend the day picking up non-perishable goods to replenish food banks after the holiday or join a group like Shopping Angels, which shops for and delivers groceries to those who are at a higher risk of COVID-19.

Host a Friendsgiving

If you've been maintaining a social bubble with a handful of close friends or neighbors, host a Friendsgiving. You can take a few measures to keep it extra safe: keeping it small, planning it outdoors, and pre-packing individual plates. Will it be a potluck? Catered? Will you make the whole meal? Let everyone know how food will be handled so they're comfortable before committing. Make it BYOB, and mark cups with a marker or wine charm.

Share a Feast With Strangers

Make your Thanksgiving a shareable DIY feast like Chaya Milchstein, who's cooking a to-go dinner for 65 people in her Minneapolis community. "I believe food and good cooking should be accessible to everyone," Milchstein says. "Growing up poor and eventually ending up in foster care, I have always known that access to food depends on your privilege. Cooking for others is me using my privilege — whether that's financial resources or skills and time — to increase food access in my communities." While not everyone can pull off a huge feast like Milchstein's, hers is an inspiring example.

Donate Your Dinner

While your nearest nursing home or soup kitchen may not let you donate a cooked meal, you can donate the amount of money you would spend on a Thanksgiving feast. You may even consider fasting for a few hours or meditating on those who often go hungry. Find out more ways to give through Feeding America or these food-related charities.