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Thanksgiving, dorm edition: Ways to celebrate, give back this holiday season


It's that time of year again, when the Halloween hauntings have passed and the spirit of the holiday season begins to peek through. Even though some start celebrating Christmas as soon as skeletons are taken off porches, the red and orange leaves covering Chapel Hill mean Thanksgiving is just around the corner. 

With Thanksgiving break coming up, students may begin to crave everything from mashed potatoes to pumpkin pie. If you're celebrating away from home and looking for ways to bring holiday festivity to Chapel Hill, look no further.

Here is some inspiration for celebrating on campus this holiday season:

A classic Friendsgiving potluck

Considering the several culinary delights that come with a Thanksgiving dinner, preparing an entire meal can seem daunting. The appetizers, the turkey, the dessert and even vegetarian options — there’s lots to think about.

"During this time, I like to host and have people over, and we'll just watch movies," said UNC sophomore Lisa Minaieva.

A potluck is a great way to taste all of the staples of a Thanksgiving meal without one person cooking tirelessly. 

UNC’s Cooperative Baptist Student Fellowship hosted a Friendsgiving potluck on Wednesday. President of the club Emily Eldridge said she and the other club members each brought a side and took time to reflect, slow down and enjoy each other’s company at the University Baptist Church. 

Eldridge expected to see a variety of dishes such as sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce and chocolate eclairs.

”Thanksgiving is nice because, especially with the hustle and bustle of the semester, it can get hard to remain thankful for the things I do have, like groups like this,” Eldridge said. 


Minaieva plans to attend a creative Friendsgiving event at her elderly neighbor's home.

The older woman taught Minaieva and her neighbors about art, so the group is going to share a meal and paint together. 

For an artistic Thankgsiving experience of your own, gather up your friends and count your blessings with some crafts. Bust out the watercolors, coloring books or even construction paper to create some classic hand turkeys. This could also be a great way to decorate your dorm room. 

Go for a walk on the Quad and collect some of your favorite colors and shapes of leaves. There are hundreds of tree species on campus ranging from Common Sassafras to Kentucky Coffeetree.

Once you gather enough leaves to your liking, you can punch a hole through them and string them on a piece of twine to make a fall leaf banner as a welcome addition to your space.

You could also make leaf rubbings with autumn-colored crayons. Just place your leaves on a flat surface, cover them with a sheet of printer paper and begin gently rubbing over the paper. As you do this, the intricate lines and shapes of your leaf will appear.


Another way to celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends is to serve the community. Chapel Hill is home to a number of organizations dedicated to helping those in need. 

Meals on Wheels in Orange County is always accepting volunteers. Community members can sign up to be a meal delivery driver, provide individually wrapped desserts, create Thanksgiving greeting cards or sort meals at the facility.

Kennadi Bernard is the community outreach chair of Puppies at Carolina, a fundraising group for service dog organizations and local animal shelters. She said that this year, the club hosted a “Pupsgiving” event on Thursday with the local organization Eyes Ears Nose & Paws, which is dedicated to training service animals. After training, the dogs are partnered with people who have disabilities. 

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According to Bernard, the event is meant to provide an outlet for Puppies at Carolina to raise money and give students some “puppy love.”

Thanksgiving suite-style

It's no secret that trying to cook a Thanksgiving meal is a lot more challenging without an oven. Luckily, there are several microwavable turkey dish options. Just head to the frozen foods aisle at the grocery store. A few minutes in the microwave and you could have something close to a turkey dinner.

There's always the communal kitchen in the dorm if you feel up to cooking a turkey leg, turkey sausage, cutlets or a vegetarian option. Feel free to add some microwavable gravy or boxed stuffing, too.

Don’t be afraid to make dessert! Instead of baking an entire pie, try a microwaveable pie or cake in a mug or bowl. 


@dthlifestyle |

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