Thanksgiving Abroad: What Are You Doing, Expat?

by farrah on November 28, 2013 · 11 comments

I had the idea that I’d ask some of my favorite expats from around the way what their plans are for Thanksgiving. I’ve rambled on and on about what we’re doing in Leiden and all of the pilgrim-overload there (send vibes for well-behaved kids!) but wanted to share what some of my blogger friends are doing for their Thanksgivings abroad as well. And you probably thought it was just a day to celebrate in the States!

TurkeyOur last Thanksgiving turkey circa 2011. I’m thinking it will be a while until we see another one of these. 

Jennifer:  Notes From Norge (US to Norway) : We are hosting a meal for 40-50 people, mostly Norwegians, & introducing them to American Thanksgiving!

Ace: Life in Dutch  (US to NL): This year we’re celebrating here in NL with some German friends that spent time in the US. We’re bringing in traditional foods like bread stuffing and gravy, but changing things up a bit with goose instead of turkey!

Monique: Mo’ Travels (US to NL): This Thanksgiving I will celebrate on the actual day, as opposed to the weekend like I usually do. I’ll start the day with my own little turkey trot, then go to the church service Leiden.  My friend – another American expat- is hosting a huge gathering with people from everywhere from Australia to Kenya who will all contribute something to the meal. I’m bringing my “famous” sweet potato casserole.

Deanna: From Casinos To Castles (US to Germany): Sunday dinner will be our faves: roast chicken, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie! It will just be the three of us plus a couple of friends.

Ann: Travel Turtle (US to Germany): My family and friends are going to have the Most American Thanksgiving outside of America. The Pilgrims lived in Leiden, NL for several decades before making the decision to settle in America. The local church in Leiden holds a Thanksgiving service every year, and we have to go. We’re also going to the American Pilgrim Museum, and having a (what I’m assuming to be) Dutch-infused traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a local hotel. Did I mention we’re also going to a Dinosaur museum? It is Dinovember after all. (—–> We’re going to be with Ann 🙂 )

Selena: Oh The Places We Will Go!  (US to London): Little Thanksgiving inspired dinner for my husband and me Wednesday. Thursday we are heading to Vienna & Bratislava for Christmas Markets. Going with the Gluwein Gang. group of 12 friends so we will have fun!

Molley: A Mother Life (Australia to US): Thankful I’m not sticking my arm up a turkey today, it sounds gross. Is ‘Steaksgiving’ acceptable? I say yes. But, as it’s not our holiday we enjoy the day off, watching the parade, seeing the balloons tonight and just relaxing. I’m cooking 2 turkey breasts, roasted root veges, brussels, spinach, garlic potatoes and have pecan and apple pie with cream and ice cream.. Oh and crunchy mac and cheese with a side of giant turkey legs.

Gayla: Mikes Travel Guide (US to NL): We’ll be attending an American-style Thanksgiving dinner with international flair on Friday night. People from Holland, US, England, Romania, Spain, Iraq, Argentina and Slovakia…will be in attendance and some will be bringing their own tradition home cooked dishes to add to the ‘trimmings’. Hosted each year by a friend from the US living in Maasbree. We look forward to it each year.

Alison: Chino House (US to Scotland): Years ago, when we lived far away from family I would try to recreate the Thanksgiving I had experienced at home. I think it was important for me early on in my marriage and family life to be able to pull off the Thanksgiving meal, but this time around, I just feel sad about cooking the same food that I usually make elbow to elbow with my mom and sisters. So, we have decided on an anti-Thanksgiving meal. We still want to mark the day in some way and give the kids an opportunity to give thanks, but we will be marking the day with pizza and a movie instead of with me working all day in the kitchen alone to create a meal that will just make us long more for our extended family than we already do.

Chamisa: Thrifty Travel Mama (US to Germany): It’s life as usual for us tomorrow, but we’ll read a Thanksgiving book or two, maybe watch The Mayflower Voyagers. Our big feast is Saturday. I’m not doing the turkey this year – yay! But I am cooking most of the sides & desserts for a dinner with fellow expats.

Nicole: Arrows Sent Forth (US to England): My oldest son will go to school and my husband will go to work. I’m going to try to stream the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade online (I hear I’ll be able to get it, but just a little delayed) and we’ll watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, too. On Saturday, we’re hosting a Thanksgiving meal at our house with another American family. The other family is bringing the turkey… because I can’t fit one in my crazy British oven!

Jessica: American Dutchess (US to NL): I’ll be heading up to Leiden to check out the Thanksgiving service at the Pieterskerk.  I was there a few weeks ago, but want to take more time to check out the canals and other monuments of the city.  So far, the weather forecast looks good! My husband has to work this week, but during the weekend we’ll be joining some friends of ours for dinner.  They are also a Dutch and Dutch/American couple living in Amsterdam.  We’ll of course take some time to call my family members in America to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving! (—> I plan on running into her!)

Of course I’d love to know- where are you and what are you doing?

So wow- I’m thankful for all of these great people who took the time to respond to me, and thankful for YOU guys for reading along. Hope you have a wonderful day no matter how you celebrate (or don’t) and get to spend some time with the people who matter most. 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica November 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

I’m inspired for sure! Thank you for sharing Farrah! I do hope I can pull off special something next year and invite our friends over for a beautiful feast! Let’s hope I get further than pinning, and planning, and praying about and actually do accomplish! God Bless & Happy Thanksgiving!


2 farrah November 29, 2013 at 8:20 am

Thanks Jessica! A year makes a huge difference. Really. We had a sack of burgers from the cafeteria last year 🙂


3 Deanna November 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

This was such a cute idea! Happy thanksgiving!


4 farrah November 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

Thanks Deanna! Same to you!


5 Gayla November 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Love reading about how everyone is going to try to celebrate, even if just through little things to bring the American tradition into their homes. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
p.s. thanks for the post, Farrah 🙂


6 farrah November 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

Hope you guys had a great day. Weather was so nice- we were lucky indeed!


7 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey November 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm

No turkey day for us Aussie Croatians, BUT we wish you a a great day xox


8 farrah November 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

xoxoxoxo 🙂 I should incorporate sauerkraut from here on out in your honor!


9 Jess November 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

This was such a good idea, Farrah… might rip off for next year (won’t steal any peeps off your list, I promise). Our last turkey sacrifice was in 2011, as well… the damn thing cost us €100, and we had to literally contort and cram to get it in the pathetic little oven. Never. Again.

Three cheers to being grateful, in any and whatever capacity we expats choose. This year, cereal. Next year, who knows? Maybe I’ll make a giant turkey-shaped cake and we’ll eat dessert for all courses.



10 Michele {Malaysian Meanders} November 30, 2013 at 6:49 am

I really enjoyed this roundup of how people are celebrating American Thanksgiving around the world. That church service in Leiden sounds especially interesting. I’m a Texan living in Malaysia. We had a surprisingly traditional potluck with about 45 people total (mostly Americans with some Malaysians, Hungarians and Mexicans thrown in for good measure).


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