Thanksgiving in England: Recap

Since I couldn’t be in the US for Thanksgiving this year, I decided to take it upon myself to cook a full dinner for nine people…on my own…in a foreign country without many of the things that make Thanksgiving easy (like canned cranberry). Yeah. I never said I was the smartest cookie.

I knew I needed a plan to pull it off. It’s probably time that I admit the truth  – I am a little bit of a…over planner. So – I made an hourly-by-hourly schedule for the day. Okay…so maybe I am a little anal retentive.


6:30 a.m. – Woke up. Ate oatmeal. Stared at internet.

7:30 a.m. – Preheated the oven, and started preparing the turkey. I used mini fillets because a full turkey was insanely expensive, and the fillets only took 35 minutes versus 3+ hours for a whole turkey. I went for the very healthy Thanksgiving butter marinade. Shh.


8:00 a.m. – Made the mashed potatoes. I wanted to get this out of the way ahead of time so, I used Pioneer Woman’s Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe (minus the half-and-half), set them out two hours before dinner, and popped them in the oven for forty minutes. It worked perfectly.

Can’t you tell how excited I am to be mashing potatoes by hand at 8 a.m.  in my classy $2 Walmart hat and PJs?


9:30 a.m. – Ran 4 miles and went to the gym for 30 minutes of weight lifting.

10:30 a.m. – Showered and got ready.

11:30 a.m. – I already knew it was going to be a long day so, I needed to get my weekly Costa fix. I enjoyed the fact that I could go get coffee and run errands on Thanksgiving and nothing was different than normal. (Thanksgiving does not exist here in England in any capacity).


12:30 – Picked up some last minute stuff and grabbed a quick sandwich for lunch. Usually, I make lunch at home, but my very (small) fridge was full of turkey breast, mashed potatoes, two pumpkin pies, and ingredients for later.

I love EAT’s turkey cranberry sandwich. I know it’s weird that I bought a turkey sandwich after cooking turkey in the morning and knowing I was having turkey for dinner. Then, I made the unfortunate mistake of getting sparkling water instead of plain. Gross. I hate carbonated water on every level.


1:00 p.m. – Stopped by the market for some cheap flowers. I got some clearance flowers for one pound. Oh man. I really am going to miss Leicester Market when I go home (in 14 days!).


2:00 p.m. – Went to class. Yes, I went to class on Thanksgiving. It’s sacrilegious.

4:20 p.m. – I was late to my Skype date with the parentals after I had to run to Tesco Express to buy more butter since I forgot it while I was in town. By the way, why is the majority of butter salted here?

5:30 p.m. – Set the table and decorated. My parents brought some Thanksgiving decorations when they visited and, Becky sent some Thanksgiving gel clings in the mail.

Since it was the first (and probably last) Thanksgiving for my international friends, I went all out – table cloth, flowers, table deco, and actually setting places at the table counter.


6:00 p.m. – Cooked like a crazy woman. The secret to making a big meal is all in the prep. Luckily, my schedule kept me in check, and I’ve had a lot of practice cooking for holidays. Everything went pretty smoothly other than:
(a) having an internal panic attack when the gravy wasn’t thickening and all the guests were waiting (it did thicken, just needed an extra few minutes in the microwave), and
(b) wondering for ten minutes why the water wasn’t boiling for my Stovetop Stuffing only to realize I had turned on an empty burner instead.

7:10 p.m. – Dinner time. This is the first time I’ve cooked this big a meal for so many people on my own, so I was relived when everything was said and done. I was definitely proud of myself for doing it. It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it in the long run.

The funny thing is that I guess every Thanksgiving for the rest of my life I will think back to remember that time when I was twenty, cooked dinner for one American, one Turk, one Polish, three French, one Czech, and one German in England. Did I mention Europeans really like Stovetop Stuffing?


Hope you had a good holiday.

14 days until I am back in the US.


10 thoughts on “Thanksgiving in England: Recap

  1. Anonymous November 29, 2013 / 7:14 pm

    Wow, Sammi I am impressed and proud of you!! I also always cook Thanksgiving Dinner here but you managed to work out and shop in between!! You Go Girl!! Sounds like you all had a great time and you will always remember this special dinner!! Have a safe trip home and we will see you very soon!!

  2. Diane Fritzges November 29, 2013 / 7:23 pm

    Wow, I am so impressed and proud of you! I always have Thanksgiving Dinner here too but you managed to work in a “work out” and shopping in between. Sounds like you all had a great time and you will always remember this special dinner!! Have a safe trip home and we will see you very soon!!

    • Sam December 2, 2013 / 10:47 am

      Thank you. :) Having a schedule definitely helped keep me on track!

  3. producthoochie November 30, 2013 / 1:43 pm

    Only 14 days left?! It went so fast! It is wonderful that you made a Thanksgiving meal for your friends- you will never forget it.

    • Sam December 2, 2013 / 10:47 am

      You’re telling me! I’m definitely glad I did it!

  4. Shirley November 30, 2013 / 8:29 pm

    Hi I am glad that your thanksgivig went good. I am glad for you and the expierence of an other country and culture. Stop in sometime at Weis. It looks like you are having good time.

    • Sam December 2, 2013 / 10:48 am

      Thanks, Shirley. :) I’ll make sure to stop by Weis when I get home.

  5. Emma @ Culturecopia December 2, 2013 / 11:39 am

    That’s awesome! I remember doing two “Friendsgiving” dinners last year while I was abroad – one for the Canadian and one for the American holiday. It was a lot of work, but so fun!

    • Sam December 2, 2013 / 7:10 pm

      “Friendsgiving” – I like it! lol.

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