Celebrating Thanksgiving Far Away From Home

Celebrating Thanksgiving as an Expat

Celebrating Thanksgiving as an Expat

Another Thanksgiving will be making its lovely appearance in a few weeks. As an American, with the shift in the weather, the fall decorations going up and the leaves falling, it is almost impossible to not think about Thanksgiving and all its glory…food, family, friends, football and even more food. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is all the makings of a classic Christmas without the stress of gift-giving. The shopping starts the day after Thanksgiving and that keeps the holiday purely about food and fellowship. 

Moving to Ireland in the middle of November was a shock to the system in so many ways. But, initially, Thanksgiving was probably the one shock I took personally. It’s another day in Ireland by all accounts. There are no days off from school and/or work, no celebrations, no smells of baking bread or pies and turkeys are nonexistent. After that first year, I buried my feelings in a bag and got it together. Thanksgiving in Ireland is obviously different than Thanksgiving stateside but with a little extra elbow grease, you can have a pretty decent American Thanksgiving in any country.

Host Your Own Thanksgiving (Friendsgiving) Dinner

Who says you can’t host your own Thanksgiving dinner? You most definitely can do it. Dust off that apron, text your friends and make it happen. You most definitely are not the only American that is missing family and a good home-cooked meal. There is an entire group of Americans in the same boat. And not to mention there are a few friends you may have met from other countries that want to know what all the hype is over Thanksgiving. Well, invite them over and make it a potluck Friendsgiving (celebration of Thanksgiving with your friends). It will be a great experience to share your traditions with your new friends. 

A bit of warning, the kids don’t have Thanksgiving off and some of your friends will not have the day off either. Depending on your situation, it might be best to schedule your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving to allow everyone the chance to participate stress-free.

You will need ample time and resources to prepare your dishes. And your guests will too if you go the potluck route. You will want to have a menu and create a guest list at the beginning of the month. Thanksgiving is all about the turkey and it most definitely can happen without a turkey. I’ve done it since moving to Ireland. But, if you really want a turkey and some other ingredients to make some of your famous dishes-then PLAN ahead. If you haven’t noticed, turkeys are not just hanging out at the local grocery store or the butcher. You will need to order your turkey from the butcher well in advance. You have been warned. Some other items that are staples at home that you may need to order in advance to have on hand for those world-famous recipes are cranberry sauce, pumpkin puree, marshmallows and seasonings.

If kids are attending your Friendsgiving, you can be the super-cool host by having them make fun Thanksgiving decorations to warm up your home and be a part of the festivity’s preparation.


Book a Fancy Dinner In Town

Another option is to schedule a fabulous dinner in a restaurant and invite a few special friends to join you. You could go against the grain and eat at an uber fancy restaurant or opt for a Thanksgiving dinner in an American hotel or a restaurant that is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. With a little research, you can find places in and around town that will serve a traditional meal for all its expat and traveling American friends. If you go this route, as a common theme, I would book a table early.


Last but not least, you could throw all traditions and turkeys out the window and just get out of town. Pick a destination and go for it. There are so many destinations that you could fly or drive to for a quick getaway. There is nothing wrong with adding a few new experiences to your belt. You are sacrificing by being away from home so do something FUN…jump on a plane and explore the world.

The holidays are all about family, friends, fun and reflection. So most importantly, don’t forget to video chat with your friends and family back home. After all, it’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

Hugs and love,

Dee Dee

Will you be hosting Thanksgiving away from home this year? If so, please leave a comment below sharing how you are making this Thanksgiving extra special.


Dee Dee Wheaton

Dee Dee Wheaton is the editor and main contributor of her family’s blog, The Wheaton Takeover. She writes and edits her posts listening to hip hop and r&b while sipping hot tea. Dee Dee and her family have temporarily relocated to Dublin, Ireland from Houston, Texas. They are traveling the world, learning and experiencing new things everyday and loving life one day at a time. Through their blog, they share their worldwide excursions, experiences living as American expats in Ireland, lessons learned along the way and glimpses into their crazy life.