First year college student gives tips for first Thanksgiving away from home

First-year college student Sarah Culling is from Georgia. With only a few days off for break this year, Culling, who attends Trinity College in Hartford, won’t be returning home for Thanksgiving. Instead, she’ll be spending her Thanksgiving break with her roommates. 

“Thanksgiving isn’t a super big holiday back home and I know that I will save myself a lot of travel pains,” Culling said. “Instead, I can relax knowing that I am with friends and we will have a great time bonding over turkey and baking.” 

On campus, Culling lives in a quad. Two of her suitemates are international students.

“They have quickly become my closest friends here,” she said. “I want to show them a true American Thanksgiving and be there as they get to enjoy it for the first time.”  

Culling and her friends will be hosted by a roommate’s family, who lives in Massachusetts. She is curious about how her host’s Thanksgiving will differ from her family’s celebration.

“We have set classics every year and I am curious about what those will be for someone else, especially in a different region of the country where the emphasis is much stronger on locally grown, health-conscious options,” she said, adding most of her family’s traditional food is fried or “drowned in gravy.”

Her favorite on Thanksgiving is carrot soufflé. Her family also enjoys traditions like watching football and the Macy’s Day Parade.

Culling won’t be the only student switching up her traditions for the holiday season. Friendsgiving, a tradition spanning from dorm rooms to office parties and neighborhood get-togethers, remains a popular fall activity. 

Looking to host your own? Here are some tips and tricks to hosting the perfect party!

Divide up tasks among friends

As college students, it’s hard to find the time to prepare each dish. Splitting up responsibilities among friends lessens the cooking load on any one person and helps spread out the cost.

Invite friends to bring a dish that’s their personal favorite 

Like Culling’s favorite carrot souffle, inviting friends to bring their favorite dish is a great way to try new things and experience different traditions. It also makes for great conversation. 

Try to prepare as much as possible ahead of time, so you just have to reheat dishes.

Attempting to cook everything the day of Friendsgiving will never go well. Figure out how much space you have to work with and how long dishes can last, then go from there. Ideally, the day of the event will just be reheating dishes, plating, and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Ask your guests about allergies or dietary restrictions they have before planning the menu

Ensuring that everyone has something they can eat may be stressful. Many college students experiment with being vegetarian or vegan, so ask for alternatives and try to include their favorite side dishes. Guests allergic to nuts, gluten, or dairy may offer to bring their own food, but can also help you plan your menu. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

If something doesn’t go exactly as planned, don’t freak out. Hosting a Friendsgiving is a lot of work, but try to go with the flow and have fun regardless.

Sammi Bray is a first year student at Trinity College in Hartford. She is studying public policy and law, with a minor in rhetoric, writing and media studies. She has been freelancing for the Record-Journal since June. You can contact her at


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