Dear PoPville – Looking for suggestions on what to do on thanksgiving solo?


Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

Dear PoPville,

Unfortunately thanksgiving is coming up and I will be spending the holiday alone. I don’t want to stay in all day, so I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on what to do on thanksgiving solo?

I have tried in the past calling up shelters to volunteer on Thanksgiving, but it seems that that day and Christmas are always on full. I usually call well in advance, but to no avail.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

23 Comment

  • Do you have other friends that will be hanging solo? If so, you could each make/bring something and do a potluck sort of dinner? Otherwise, could you treat yourself to a nice meal but sit at the bar? Maybe a place with an open kitchen so you can watch the kitchen activity. Good luck!

  • You could see if they still need volunteers at SOME’s Trot For Hunger 5k race: http://www.some.org/events_trot_volunteer.html

    I volunteered a few years ago and it was a fun time.

  • i believe all the museums are open.

  • saf

    The Smithsonian Museums are all open. Also, they will not be all that busy. So go see those exhibits you want to see, without fighting the crowds!

    Then have a nice meal – I love dining at the bar at upscale restaurants.

    Or then go to a movie – The AFI is showing some great films that evening.

    Or simply go home and have a nice cozy meal and movie together at home.

    • While it’s a great day to do all the museums, I speak from experience when I say they can definitely get crowded on Thanksgiving day. Seems that everybody has the same idea.

    • Seconded on the movie-theater recommendation. I’ve spent a number of Thanksgivings on my own, and for a long time I didn’t know that movie theaters are open on Thanksgiving just like they are on Christmas Day.

      The AFI is showing films all day long; you can see a calendar for all of November at http://www.afi.com/silver/films/calendar.aspx.

  • Depends on what you like to do/what makes you thankful. I’ve been in this situation a few times and a few options:

    1. organize and host a potluck for friends and stragglers

    2. Go hang out at the Smithsonian museums, which are all open

    3. Head out to WVA and do some amazing hiking and be thankful for the fall leaves (but tell a friend where you’re going)

    4. If it is too cold for 3, drive Skyline drive

    5. Walk around the monuments

    6. Sit outside the Target and watch the people line up at 4 PM to get in to the Black Thursday sales, and be thankful you don’t have to work those sales

    7. Find a fireplace, some Ghiridelli Hazelnut hot cocoa, and a good book and enjoy the peace.

  • Do you have any elderly/solitary neighbors who might appreciate some company?
    Maybe visit with some folks at a nursing home who don’t have friends and family nearby.
    Take yourself out to the movies, or to a museum and to a nice meal – bringing something to read and/or sitting at the bar.
    Go for a run/walk in the park, or just go walking around the neighborhoods and see what’s going on.
    Go park yourself on a bar stool and chat with the folks who come by.
    Organize an “orphans” thanksgiving – do you have any friends/coworkers who might be in the same boat? I’m thinking particularly of divorced folks with kids who might not be with them for the holiday.
    Stay in your pjs, order a pizza and watch movies and read all day!

  • Come over to my place and help peel potatoes! ;-)

  • Sorry to go slightly off topic here, but to pick up on the mention of holiday shelter volunteering, having worked in the nonprofit field for many years, I can’t resist putting in a plea for folks to consider the full range of giving/volunteering options available. Serving a holiday meal to the homeless is extremely popular for the volunteering-minded–understandably so, because it’s simple, tangible, and doesn’t cost money for those volunteers with limited resources. But many shelters/soup kitchens/food pantry get a TON of volunteers offering to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving/Christmas–in many cases, more volunteers than are useful or manageable. Of course, many organizations are reluctant to say this directly, because they don’t want to seem ungrateful or alienate their volunteer base. But more so than meal-serving, many of these organizations desperately need either cash donations OR administrative/professional service volunteers (ie, help with filing, marketing, fundraising, tech support, accounting, legal services, etc.) Admittedly, it doesn’t always have the gratifying aura of direct contact and direct assistance to individuals in need, but if you have either cash to spare or professional skills to contribute, these are just as vital as the direct service.

    As for the OP’s question, if you enjoy museums, I second the Smithsonian idea. There are a ton of interesting exhibits/museums that are just too aggravating or borderline-impossible to enjoy on normal tourist-filled weekends.

    • As a former volunteer coordinator for a local shelter, I echo this completely. My ED would never let me turn away volunteers–this would mean that we’d have at upwards of 200 people to help serve only 70. It was a nightmare then trying to find a job for everyone, when all anyone wanted to do was to serve the homeless. I thank you for your good intentions, BUT.

  • FYI…don’t be surprised if the museums are NOT empty. I went to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian a few Thanksgivings ago and it was packed.

    Having said that I’m going to spend this T-day alone, and I’m kinda looking forward to it. I will make a turkey breast and stuffing (my favorite two things) and hang out with the dogs. Might even watch “White Christmas” later in the evening.

  • Golf. or TopGolf

  • Too bad you don’t know Rooth!

  • I’ve been solo on Thanksgiving for the past several years. The city streets are empty and perfect for hiking – I like a nice long hike through Rock Creek, down across the Mall and up to the Tune Inn for lunch. Exercise, a burger , a beer and a shot is as fine a way to spend the day as I can think.

  • If you’re looking to spend the day with company, perhaps there’s a meetup group or other such for folks who are in exactly the same situation? Or, if not, perhaps you might take the lead on starting one? It could be a great opportunity to meet some new people. There might also be some community thanksgiving celebrations organized through religious/civic institutions.

  • I love the idea of visiting a retirement home. That sounds like a worthwhile thing to do and I’m sure those you would sit with and share dinner with would really enjoy the company.
    My Grandmother lived at Knollwood in upper NW – it is a home for officers/spouses of officers and when I visited when I was younger all the residents loved new people to talk to – especially those who were younger.

  • The Emergence Community Arts Collective, a great lil’ community org in Park View, is holding a Thanksgiving potluck:

    Thursday November 22nd, starting at 3pm: Thanksgiving Day Open House at ECAC. Thanksgiving Day is an Open House at the ECAC with a traditional turkey dinner and potluck vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Bring a dish, non-alcoholic drink or donation and spend time in the company of the ECAC family. RSVP by Monday November 19th to sylvia@ecacollective.org or (202) 462-2285. http://www.ecacollective.org/

  • I really enjoy my independent holidays. The last couple of years, I’ve gone to the Botanic Garden to see the holiday exhibits (relatively short line to get in on Thanksgiving), then to the nearby Museum of the American Indian, where they have delicious food and interesting exhibits. This year I’m doing a morning hike at Great Falls with a meetup group (weather cooperating).

  • Thanks everyone for the suggestions!!

    • You could also volunteer with IONA. They still serve seniors on holidays and many of them do not have family in the area.

  • Not sure if they still do this, but the Youth Services Center used to have volunteers come in and celebrate with the kids. These youth are awaiting adjudication, & many do not get visits from their families on Thanksgiving.

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