How to survive Thanksgiving break at home

Enjoying your freedom at college? Hanging with friends, no parents in sight—it’s a pretty good gig. Despite all that autonomy, you are probably looking forward to Thanksgiving break at home.

Some college students have mixed feelings about going home for Thanksgiving. (Credit: Imgur)

Some college students have mixed feelings about going home for Thanksgiving. (Credit: Imgur)

But ask any college student with a couple of semesters under his/her belt and they will tell you that being home for the holidays isn’t always what you were expecting. You can learn how to survive, however, with some tips for college students who have been there before you.

Friends, parents and siblings

Even if going home at Thanksgiving break is old hat for you, it is still important to remember that there maybe three groups (or more) vying for your attention over the long weekend—friends, parents and siblings. How can you keep them all happy in the space of five days? “How to Survive Your First Thanksgiving Break Home From College,” by Megan Kenslea posted to on November 21, 2011, offered a few tips for college students on navigating this territory:

  • Friends—Expect them to have changed. Expect that they will think you’ve changed. And, as Kenslea wrote, “Don’t assume that your friends and your friendships to be the same, but do try to figure out a way you can be a part of each others new lives.”
  • Parents—Let’s face it, your parents will have their rules they expect you to live by. Have a frank conversation about expectations, and try to broker a compromise that everyone can live with.
  • Siblings—Again, like your friends, your siblings have probably changed while you have been apart. Make time to hang with them, especially younger brothers and sisters who may need to unload about life under mom and dad’s rule.

How to survive—tips for college students

Want your parents to see you for the adult you’ve become? Then head home for the holidays with a plan that will make the visit a good one. Still not sure what that will entail? “How Both Parties Can Survive that Trip Home” by Kayla Hedman, posted November 12, 2013, for Champlain College’s website, had some suggestions on how to survive Thanksgiving break.

  • Tell your parents of any non-family plans in advance. Think of them like wild animals, easily spooked by sudden changes.
  • Accept that mom may have turned your room into her craft studio. You don’t have to be excited about it, but things will go much more smoothly if you keep that intel to yourself.
  • Let them boss you around a bit. For instance, don’t gripe if they ask you to unload the dishwasher or walk the dog. Your willingness to pitch in may grease the wheels when you want to hang with friends until 2 a.m.
  • Talk about school—a LOT. Your parents are 1) interested, and 2) want to know that their money is being well spent.
  • Respect long-standing traditions. Your parents are probably expecting things to be just like they were before you left home, so go along willingly with any family traditions, even if you feel like you have outgrown them.

Your college students at home—tips for parents

You are ready to showcase your newfound independence and maturity to mom and dad. Worried that they won’t be able to handle it? Perhaps it is time to slip them a few ideas, courtesy of “Turkey Day Tips for Parents of College Students” posted on, which will make Thanksgiving break at home a breeze.

To make the time together a positive one for all, parents of college students should expect:

  • Lots of sleeping. As the post shared, “There’s nothing quite like coming home to a familiar bed, home-cooked favorites and the comfort of living in pajama pants for days. If your Thanksgiving schedule is traditionally jam-packed, allow your student time to spend relaxing and resting.”
  • Some big changes. With the newfound freedom college offers, parents should expect their college student to have made some changes—whether that means a new boyfriend/girlfriend, a new philosophy or a new hair color.
  • To share. College students are going to want to catch up with high school friends, even their siblings, so moms and dads should be open to sharing their kid while they are home for the holidays. Let your college student know of any commitments you expect them to honor, and then allow them some freedom to set their own schedule.

Any fun home for the holiday family disasters you have lived through and learned to laugh about? What are your tips for college students on how to survive being at home again for Thanksgiving break? Let us know in the comments.

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