Thanksgiving Hacks for Grad Life Gratitude

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College 

socked feet on wooden steps with a blanket book and cup of tea among leaves

Many of us eagerly anticipate reuniting with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday. But timing, travel costs or other circumstances may prevent graduate students from participating in this annual occasion. If you can’t make it home this Thanksgiving, there’s still plenty to do in and around Cincinnati during this turkey-filled time. We’ve compiled a go-to guide for making the most of the holiday right here in the city, whether you’re spending the holiday locally with family and friends, or staying solo this celebratory season.

  • Treat Yourself: Indulge in your favorite activities. Whether it's binge-watching a new TV series, reading a book, taking a walk, or trying out a new recipe, carve out moments to nurture your well-being.  Sometimes, a day devoted to self-care is exactly what you need.
  • Volunteer: Consider volunteering at local shelters or community events. Giving back is a great way to foster a sense of belonging and purpose, plus you might meet some awesome people along the way! Give Back Cincinnati’s Fall Feast, at the Duke Energy Convention Center, is celebrating its 18th year putting on one of the largest Thanksgiving meals in the region for thousands in need and offers many opportunities for interested volunteers.
  • Get Thanksgiving To-Go: Cincinnati offers lots of options for enjoying a traditional meal if you’re craving turkey for your table, but not the toil. And if you’d rather skip the Thanksgiving menu altogether for a meal out, many restaurants are open on Thanksgiving with fare for whatever feeds your appetite. Pizza on Thanksgiving? Why not!
  • Explore the City’s Activities: Check out Cincinnati’s museums or cultural centers around town. Places like the Cincinnati Art Museum or the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center offer fascinating exhibits, or cross the bridge into Newport and make friends with the fishes!
  • Hasten the Holiday Spirit: Prefer to skip ahead to winter fun and festivities?  Cincinnati offers lots of ways to start your holiday shopping early or turn out the tinsel. The Cincinnati Christkindlmarkt, Washington Park Winter Market, Findlay Market Shop Small Saturday, and holiday edition of Crafty Supermarket are all open this weekend. After getting a jumpstart on your holiday gifting, explore the local winter festival scene. Check out events like the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights or the Winterfest at Kings Island to kick off the holiday season. Head to Florence, Kentucky for the Deck the Y’alls Lightfest or enjoy Downtown Dazzle, beginning with a visit to the UC Health Ice Rink, in Fountain Square. Looking for more night lights? Visit Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island or Light Up the Square 2023 to get your glimmer on.
  • Game Time’s a Good Time: Organize a game night. Board games, card games, and video games break the ice, spark conversations, and deepen connections. Or catch some football instead! Whether you're a die-hard fan or just enjoy the energy, tuning into Thanksgiving Day games is a classic way to soak up the holiday atmosphere while relaxing at home or with friends.
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Take time to reflect on the things you're grateful for. Whether it's your academic pursuits, friendships, or personal growth, acknowledging these aspects can help uplift your spirits and foster a positive mindset.
  • Fend-off FOMO: Use social media wisely to dodge FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). While scrolling, focus on positive connections and meaningful content. Share your own moments of gratitude and joy, and remember, it's okay to unplug and enjoy your own special time without comparing it to others' highlight reels.
  • Reach Out: If you're feeling lonely, don't hesitate to reach out to friends, mentors, or supportive individuals within your academic community. A simple conversation or video call can do wonders in alleviating feelings of isolation. And remember, if feelings of loneliness or distress become overwhelming, seeking support from counseling services or mental health professionals is always a proactive step towards self-care.

Ultimately, there are many ways to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. No matter where you are, or whom you’re with, there's plenty to do waiting for you - and you might just find a newfound appreciation for your own company along the way. Celebrate the day your way. And remember, your graduate community is here to support you. Happy Thanksgiving!