Turkey Day is right around the corner, but if you’re not planning on taking a trip home, it doesn’t mean you have to skip out on a Thanksgiving banquet. Whether you’re cooking for a group of friends or just for one, heading to a friend’s party or planning on giving back, there’s endless options to make this holiday fun — after all, you have to do something with those three days off school.
Food and Thanksgiving festivities, done the friends way
If you’re not a huge fan of traditional Thanksgiving recipes, there are definitely more contemporary ways to cook up dinner. Instead of roasting a whole turkey — let’s be real, who knows how to keep that thing perfectly moist and tender when it’s been cooking for hours? — try something simpler, like a chicken pot roast, turkey burgers or turkey chili. Instead of peeling, boiling and mashing a dozen potatoes, buy microwavable or oven-bakeable pre-made mashed potatoes and pair them with gravy.
Green bean casserole, which includes french-fried onions and cream of mushroom soup, is a comfort-food favorite that takes just 30 minutes to make. Baked macaroni and cheese is a great option for the college budget: a box of macaroni elbows is about $3, shredded cheese about $3-4 and you probably already have butter and milk in your fridge, and if not, that won’t break your bank, either.
Of course it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without dessert. You can make pumpkin pie with literally two ingredients: canned pumpkin pie filling — make sure it’s not plain pumpkin — and a deep-dish pie shell. Another easy favorite is baked cinnamon apples, which you can add walnuts and brown sugar to for an extra sweet taste.
If you’re not into cooking, that’s what friends are for! Invite some people over and ask them to bring their favorite side or dessert. Even better, make it a Friendsgiving, because what’s better than eating lots of food with lots of friends?
Give more than thanks
Another option that’s a great choice if you’re not with friends or family — or if you just want to invite them along — is to spend Thanksgiving giving back.
For those who want to stay active or just feel a bit more justified in having a third slice of pumpkin pie, an athletic option is to spend your Thanksgiving morning running the Columbia Boys And Girls Club Turkey Day 5k and Family Fun Run. Not only is this a great way for a student staying in Columbia to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it benefits others as well, as proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands. If 3.1 miles isn't quite your talent, there’s also a 1k option that starts just five minutes after at 8:50 a.m.
Sit back and enjoy the show
There are also fun opportunities for entertainment in Columbia, including Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park, opening Nov. 23. A drive-through light show features over 400 creative glittering displays, Holiday Lights on the River is the largest light show that you can drive through in the Midlands. There are also opportunities to go ice skating, roast marshmallows and take a hayride shuttle to the walking paths. Admission is $15 per car, so be sure to pack your friends in, but the light show is well worth it and is the perfect way to start your holidays off festively.
Take in a classic holiday show at the Township Auditorium on Taylor Street from Nov. 23-27, where "The Nutcracker" is performed by Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet. You can relive childhood memories of dance and ballet or simply enjoy the timeless holiday tradition. Tickets for the Wednesday showing start at $15.50, and students get a discount on Friday's showing for $15.50 and Sunday's showing for $12.50.
Whether it is spent with friends, family or just relaxing and having some down time, there’s no need to go without Thanksgiving-themed events, food and fun. Endless options for celebration await you — start your holiday festivities now!