Everything you need for your very own British Thanksgiving

Now, we know we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK. But if you love all things American (especially food and football), it’s definitely worth considering having your own celebration anyway!

So, here is everything you’ll need to have your very own Thanksgiving celebration in the UK…

A day off

Obviously Thanksgiving isn’t a national holiday in the United Kingdom, so you’ll probably have to book the day off. Don’t worry, there’s still enough time.

If you can’t get the day off, you could always organise your own celebration at work. Just be warned that holding impromptu parades around your desk will probably be frowned upon by your colleagues and HR.

Loads and loads of food

Hooray! You’ve got the day off!

Now comes the important bit: the food. More importantly: loads of it. Thanksgiving is all about expressing your gratitude through stuffing your face with as much food as possible.

At the top of your shopping list should be a massive turkey. As a certain other big holiday is round the corner, you should be able to get one from your local supermarket. Just remember to defrost it in time…

Thanksgiving Turkey

If you’re celebrating alone or with your significant other, a turkey joint is acceptable. Also acceptable (barely) is turducken AKA the three bird roast. This might seem like an affront to tradition, but the weirdest roast of them all is championed by none other than NFL legend John Madden. Given football’s role in the big day (more on that later), it almost seems more appropriate than turkey.

Traditional accompaniments to the Thanksgiving turkey include stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. If you fancy adding a bit more American flavour to your feast, try knocking up some biscuits and gravy too!

Pupmkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie made from Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Filling

For pudding, look no further than pumpkin pie. It’s quite hard to find in the UK, but it’s fairly easy to bake your own: here’s a pumpkin pie filling to get you started.

You’ll probably want something to nibble on while you’re cooking too. May we suggest some American sweets?

Decoration and centrepieces

Like Christmas, Thanksgiving is often marked by decorating your home. You won’t need to go with anything as garish as tinsel or a big tree; just a centrepiece will do.

Again, buying your own centrepiece is going to be a bit of a struggle considering we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on this side of the pond. You could order one online, or you could make your own. Here’s a couple of useful links!


No Thanksgiving is complete without a parade! Unfortunately, you won’t be able to partake in the tradition of morning/afternoon parades (time differences and all that), but you will be able to watch The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (which is, let’s face it, the best one) live online.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 2013

Spiderman featured in 2013

If you really really want to go to a live parade, you may be able to find one in the capital. We couldn’t at the time of writing, but please let us know if you’ve heard about one in the comments.

Watch lots of American football

Now, this one might be slightly difficult given the time difference but watching football is an absolute staple of any Thanksgiving. Watch what you can live, and maybe fill the rest of the time with highlights from your favourite games (i.e. the games your team won).

Miami Dolphins

Our adopted team – the Miami Dolphins – in action

Alternatively, stick on Madden NFL 16 and play through your own schedule of Thanksgiving fixtures!

Be grateful

The clue is in the name: Thanksgiving is all about appreciating the things that make you happy. Family is the big one, although it’s not always possible to get everyone round the same table.

Instead, give everyone you love a call and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Or just send them a nice message on Facebook or WhatsApp. Whatever makes you comfortable.


The other big part of Thanksgiving is helping those less fortunate than ourselves. If you get a chance, volunteer for a good cause for the day, or donate to charity.

You can find volunteering opportunities near you here.

Rest, play games and sleep

Sleeping off Thanksgiving dinnerLike Christmas, Thanksgiving slows down significantly following the big meal. Take advantage: sit down in your favourite chair and treat yourself to a nice nap.

If you’ve got family round, break out the boardgames (and give yourself extra points if you have the American edition of Monopoly!). Or, just watch a film or play some videogames. Just relax!

Prepare a meal plan for the leftovers

If you bought a big turkey, you’re probably going to have some spare. Fortunately, there’s actually quite a lot you can do with turkey – you just need a few good recipes. And what do you know, it’s such a prevalent problem in the States that numerous websites have published entire posts dedicated to leftover recipes!

Tuck in!

Prepare for Black Friday

After Thanksgiving comes that other great American tradition, Black Friday.

Black Friday

We’ll be having our own Black Friday sale…stay tuned!

In the States, quite a lot of people get up early on Friday morning (or even camp out on Thanksgiving!) to get to their favourite store and grab a few bargains.

Given that Black Friday isn’t quite as popular in this country yet (although it’s getting there), you won’t need to be that extreme. If you have the day off work, though, it’s worth taking a look at some of the offers available on the high street and heading out as early as possible to grab them. Just don’t start wrestling a TV out of some poor old woman’s hands; manners still apply!

If you are at work, get online and check out some of the online bargains. Sites like Amazon typically run their deals on an hourly basis, so keep checking throughout the day!

What are you planning to do for Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter!

  • Marie Tassie

    Ironic that Black Friday, which is all about greed of material items and shows of affluence, has made it across the Pond but that Thanksgiving, which is about quality time with loved ones, being thankful for what one has, and thinking about others without the need of material possessions, has not made it to the UK.

  • A fair point, Marie. It is one of those traditions that should probably be adopted by many countries.