Keep your Thanksgiving traditions alive away from home

Tabitha Shiflett gives tips for making Thanksgiving special at college. She also provides microwave recipes for delicious Thanksgiving meals that don't require the effort and money that typically go into cooking a turkey in this way.

Tabitha Shiflett gives tips for making Thanksgiving special at college. She also provides microwave recipes for delicious Thanksgiving meals that don’t require the effort and money that typically go into cooking a turkey in this way.

Although there are no classes on Thanksgiving Day, some UNC Wilmington students may find it hard to get home. Plane tickets, gas prices and other expenses can add up, even if it is just for a weekend away. Being stuck at college over the holidays can be tough, but it’s doable. Here are a few helpful tips to bring some of that homey feel to your UNCW Thanksgiving.

1. Decorate: Being surrounded by holiday decorations is usually a great way to get into the spirit. Ways to decorate for autumn may include purchasing an assortment of burnt orange, red and yellow faux fall leaves, laying out fall-inspired bedding and putting out pumpkin spice (or other autumn aromas) scented candles or incense.

• Faux fall leaves: Faux leaves are a cheap and easy way to decorate for fall. Make a festive wreath by gluing different colored leaves to a Styrofoam ring—there are several sizes to choose from, and they make for great door decorations.

• Fall-inspired bedding: Usually stores like Kohls and Sears offer pretty good deals around the holidays. Decorate your room in warm oranges and reds with small hints of brown, or go earthy—either way, it will definitely feel like autumn. Decorative pillows are also a great way to add a little pizazz to your comforter.

• The aroma of fall: Holiday-scented candles can be found just about anywhere once October hits. Try placing sweet vanilla scented candles around your living room or apple pie candles near the kitchen to greet your guests as they enter your front door.

2. Don’t do Thanksgiving alone: You may be away from home and family, but chances are, you know someone staying that would love to come over. If all of your roommates and close friends are heading home, make some new friends. More than likely, there is another person in the same boat as you. Try floor-hopping as well. You never know what others have planned until you ask. And, if all else fails, the UNCW Confessions page will probably take a Thanksgiving party invite, so the probability of being alone is slim.

3. Split the costs: Once all of your guests are written down, assign different foods to each person so the cost of your Thanksgiving dinner will not be so overbearing. Assign items such as paper plates, cups and silverware, too. If you want to go all out, you can ask that the items are holiday themed.

4. Cook a great meal: Most dorm rooms have a common area with a kitchen, and almost all on-campus apartments have kitchens—use this to your advantage. See below for great microwave-friendly recipes. They’re easy and delicious!

5. Entertain your guests: After dinner, head outside for a fun game of touch football. Or, if you’re not into that kind of thing, rent a movie or play a game that everyone can participate in inside.

So, if you end up spending Thanksgiving on campus, remember these tips to help get you into the spirit. You’d be surprised by how much a simple candle can do or even a leaf wreath. And remember, if all else fails, there’s always Wagsgiving coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Microwave-friendly recipes

When we get to college, the microwave becomes an essential part of life. Not only because it is quick, but because, sometimes, kitchen access isn’t available. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome Thanksgiving feast. Several recipes can be cooked entirely in the microwave.

Microwaved turkey: Turkey, although hard to believe, can be put in the microwave. Just make sure it is 12 pounds or less, and is not stuffed. Put it inside of a plastic oven cooking bag, and cook it for nine to 10 minutes per pound on medium power. Rotate often and make sure to check the temperature—it should be finished when it reaches 165 degrees.

Microwaved cranberry sauce: Cranberry sauce is a must at Thanksgiving. In a two-quart casserole dish, combine a 12-ounce package of cranberries, ¾ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of orange juice or water. Cover it with a lid or vented plastic wrap, and place it in the microwave for seven to 11 minutes.

Microwaved sweet potatoes: Simple and quick. Place four medium sweet potatoes on the microwave turntable and cook for ten to 11 minutes, or until soft.

A new tradition: The Thanksgiving burger.

Thanksgiving dinner is time consuming, and we are all a bunch of college kids anyway, so why not have a Thanksgiving feast on a burger? Just top any turkey patty with your favorite Thanksgiving foods. Gravy, mac-n-cheese, cranberry sauce, small fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries—the options are endless. Don’t be surprised if this is one tradition you retain after you graduate!

If the microwave is all you have… find several other microwaveable recipes here.