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Today's Family Magazine

Friendsgiving and solitary celebrations to make the most of Thanksgiving Day

By Kimberly Blaker

The long-held tradition of the family gathered around a table for a savory Thanksgiving feast carries fond memories for most. Yet, single parents and empty nesters often find themselves spending the day alone.  Whatever the reason, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday without family.  Whether you go it alone or decide to hold a Friendsgiving, the following tips will help you make the most of your holiday.

Solitary celebrations
The upside of spending Thanksgiving alone is that you can celebrate any way you choose.  But be sure to plan ahead so you don't waste it away.  Unless that's what you want to do, which is perfectly fine, too.

One of the benefits of spending the day alone is that you can feast on anything your heart desires. If you like cooking, it's the perfect day to pull out your favorite recipes and treat yourself to a gourmet meal.

If cooking isn't your thing, you can still indulge by eating out.  A few restaurants are open on Thanksgiving.  Some will even serve a Thanksgiving dinner.  Just make your reservation a week or so in advance because restaurants book up early for the holiday.

One thing that doesn't shut down on Thanksgiving is the movie theater.  So catch a flick and treat yourself to some hot buttery popcorn.

If weather permits, get some fresh air and go for a bike ride or hike.

On the other hand, you might want to stay in where it's cozy and warm and bask in a home spa treatment.  Give yourself a manicure, pedicure, facial, and try out a new hair color.

Thanksgiving is also an excellent day for a trip down memory lane.  Pour a glass of wine, play some music from your past, and flip through photo albums.

Is there a book you've been dying to read?  Curl up on the couch and spend the entire day relaxing and reading.

It's also the perfect opportunity to call family or friends you haven't spoken to in a while.  So give them a ring and catch up.

Maybe you'd really like to do something good for the soul and others.  If so, offer to help at a soup kitchen. Another option is to take up a coat collection.  Then on Thanksgiving, deliver the coats to a shelter or distribute them to other charitable organizations.

Even if you don't have family around for the holidays, you don't have to spend it alone. In fact, many parents opt to spend the day with friends to avoid the hot political climate that all too often erupts at family Thanksgiving gatherings.

Odds are you have friends, co-workers, neighbors, or acquaintances who'll also be spending the day alone.  So why not hold a Friendsgiving?

Even if you spend Thanksgiving with family, Friendsgiving has gained so much popularity, many hold a Friendsgiving on Friday or Saturday so they too can enjoy the holiday with friends.

There are a lot of ways to do your Friendsgiving, which might depend, in part, on the size of your guest list.  If it's only a couple of you, split the grocery list, then plan to cook together that day.  You could also skip the hassle and enjoy dinner out.  If you choose the latter for Thanksgiving day, make reservations well in advance.

If you'd like to celebrate with several friends, a potluck might be best.  Just plan everything ahead so the day will be a success without a ton of work and stress on your part.  As the host, you might offer to do the turkey or meat yourself.  Then ask each person to bring one or two specific types of dishes.  For example, ask a couple of friends to bring a vegetable dish.  Ask them to let you know in advance what specifically they plan to bring so you don't have multiples of the same vegetable.  You can assign a couple of other guests to bring dessert, and another to bring dinner rolls and snacks.

For beverages, you could offer to supply soda.  But ask everyone to bring their own alcoholic drinks.  Or, if you know everyone likes beer or wine, ask each person to bring something to share so you can all enjoy tasting and a variety.

Additional items you can ask guests to bring include ice, coolers, tableware, serving utensils, folding chairs, folding tables, and tablecloths.

In addition to the day's main event – delicious food – you could also plan for some form of entertainment.  Put together a variety of music to fit everyone's tastes.  You could also play cards or games.  If all your guests are football fans, it couldn't get any easier.

Will any of your guests bring their kids?  If so, have a clean childproof room available where they can play away from the adult ruckus.

Whatever way you choose to spend your day, the most important thing is to enjoy it and know you're in good company — whether it be in the company of acquaintances, friends, or your own.