Trying to celebrate Thanksgiving as an American outside of the USA is pretty tough. It can be done and I have done it before and have spent some wonderful Thanksgivings in the UK with friends, but there’s no kidding ourselves, it’s just not the same. And it’s different to other holidays like Christmas and Easter because American Thanksgiving is just that, it’s an American holiday only – no school and no work – and for everyone else around the world, there’s school and work. Nevertheless, here are some top tips on how to celebrate. These are things I’ve done in the past or things I’ve heard that people do.

  • Connect with other Americans on Facebook and share Thanksgiving stories and offer support
  • Cook Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday after the Thursday to allow for more time
  • Go out for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday to an American-themed restaurant
  • Cook a slimmed down Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday after work (prep it during the previous few days after work)
  • Rally the troops – invite all the Americans you know over for Thanksgiving and ask them to bring a dish
  • Go out for a Thanksgiving drink with other Americans or British friends who have an American connection or who have lived in the States in the past
  • Introduce Thanksgiving to British friends or friends from other countries – people are curious and love joining in
  • Give your children an American history lesson on Thanksgiving
  • Do Thanksgiving themed craft activities with your children and teach them how to make some of the things you made in school as a child
  • See if there are any celebrations happening in your area and ask to join in. (There used to be Thanksgiving in Plymouth, but I don’t think it’s happening this year)
  • Order in some American goodies from Ocado, Skyco, American Soda, or one of the other American import websites
  • If you can’t do the whole dinner, simply make a pumpkin pie
  • Decorate your table or kitchen – even something small like a few small pumpkins with fall leaves around them
  • Read blog posts written by Americans who live abroad and join in the conversation
  • Don’t forget to say what you’re thankful for – even if you’re not able to eat Thanksgiving dinner

Hopefully some of these things will help you to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving, even in just a very small way.

If anyone else has some top tips they’d like to share, please do in the comments below.


Meghan Peterson Fenn is the author of Bringing Up Brits and co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs with Heidi Mulligan Walker. Meghan is also the Director and Chief Designer at her own design company, White Ochre Design Ltd. And, she is an award winning expat blogger.