Thanksgiving Party Ideas for Students Sticking Around Campus

a guy standing next to table full of food

During every single Thanksgiving break there’s that chunk of the student body who for whatever reason can’t make it home to be with their family. They’re scattered throughout the dorms. They’re huddling in the on-campus housing. They’re alone in their apartments.

Well, this article is for them. It explains how to set up and execute a monolithic Thanksgiving break costume party.

Step 1. Establishing Location

The hunt for the perfect location should begin no later than around the beginning of September. That gives you three months to set this thing up. More than enough time to make it completely legit from top to bottom.

You can either talk with the school to see if there’s a way you can use an on-campus location (potential funding), or you can take it off-campus.

Off-campus is ideal. There’s got to be someone sticking around campus that lives in a big house. All the roommates took off, so there’s nothing but space! The point is you want to find a suitable house with enough breathing room (including yard) for anywhere from 20-150+ people.

Step 2. Making it Cool with Neighbors & Johnny Law

Directly, in person, talk to all the surrounding neighbors and people in the area. Just be honest. You’re putting together a Thanksgiving themed costume party for students staying on campus, or who really have nowhere to go for the holidays.

No, this isn’t supposed to be some typical obnoxious party where everyone is getting drunk. Actually there will be turkey, lots of food, and fun. A real quality party and if they want to dress up they’re more than welcome to come!

Be completely upfront with law enforcement. Their main concerns are going to be illegal activity (underage drinking) and adhering to noise/fire codes. The writer of this article is envisioning clean and drug-free fun. Ideally you should be as well. You’re advised to invite police to stop by at their leisure. Tell them you’ll set aside a couple plates just for them…

Step 3. Spreading the News

This shindig should start relatively early in the day, say 2pm, and go through to roughly 8pm. Begin spreading the word about two months out, so the beginning of October. This is probably the best way to do that:

  • Get a simple table, two chairs, and some people together that will dress up and promote the party.
  • Print out legit flyers telling people about the costume party. Tell them why it’s being put together. Make sure people understand there will be food, music, fun and festivities!
  • Remember, one way to cut down the rabble is to require costumes. If you do that, only the people that really want to dress up and have some fun will show.

Step 4. Funding

The quicker you get a handle on your expected head counts the better because you don’t want to go overboard, but you don’t want make it not worth the time and effort or have people show and not get fed. This party will need some funding regardless.

  • Food: Turkeys, pies, cookies etc. and things that appeal to vegetarians, vegans and people who may be trying to lose weight (fruits, veggies and low-fat choices).
  • Drinks: Alcohol isn’t advised. Instead, shoot for hot and cold drinks that are cheap and easy to love. Water is a fabulous choice. Soda not so much. Hot chocolate is a good choice, but with punches and things of that nature there must be someone either watching/guarding it, or handing it out at a specific time. Keep things safe for everyone.
  • Plating: Biodegradable plates, plastic cups, forks and spoons. And, mountains of napkins. Don’t forget about the things you need to clean up afterwards as well.
  • Decorations: Don’t go overboard but make sure that the house is festive. Get some streamers. Put up some artwork. Don’t go cheap! Head over to the art department and see what kind of neat creations you can make. Weather permitting, setting up something outside in the front yard for all to see would be nice.
  • Music: If it’s live it should be pro-bono. If not, keep it on the lower side to allow for conversation, and keep it on the low-key side. The music should complement the party, not dominate it.
  • Activities: The activities shouldn’t be messy or corny. Most people will just want to hang out and mingle with others.

If you take it seriously and have a team in place to hand out responsibilities and coordinate things, it will be really fun and the students who come will never forget it!

Colleges typically have something going on on-campus for students that stick around, but nothing could be more awesome than a student run and student funded Thanksgiving Day Costume Party. How many Indians and Pilgrims will show?

Do you plan to host a college Thanksgiving party? Share your tips and ideas in the comments section below the post!

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