If you’ve got a big family, your guest list might be full for Thanksgiving. There’s nothing
more fun than the tradition of hosting the same family and friends for a gathering year
after year. Seeing the same faces and enjoying their company is likely something you
look forward to every season but have you ever thought about adding to your guest list?
Including people you might not regularly see on your guest list can make an impact and
change a life. There are many reasons why people don’t have any place in particular to
go during Thanksgiving. Being aware and open to including others can really make a
big impact on their mental health during the holiday.

As you ramp up for the special day, pay attention to people who could benefit from a
special invitation to join you and your friends and family. There are likely people in
unexpected situations that would welcome an opportunity to gather rather than be
alone. Some ideas could include

Host a college student who is far from home- College students come from all over.
Many are far from home and don’t have the time or the finances to go home for
Thanksgiving. If you have college-aged children, encourage them to invite students to
come to your home for Thanksgiving and enjoy a taste of home.

Host a widow or someone newly divorced- Life changes don’t get put on hold during the
holiday. If you know of someone who has been recently widowed, divorced, or
somehow finds themselves alone, be sure to include them in your gathering. Your
gesture can help them avoid depression or added loneliness that magnifies during the
holidays. They may not be in the best of spirits due to their life situation, but you can
offer them comfort and joy and help them find gratitude in spite of what they are going

Host someone in the area for medical treatment- Did you know many people travel out
of their hometowns for medical treatment. There are families who are often displaced for
other reasons too. Pay attention to your network of friends and family and be on the
lookout for people who are traveling or staying in your area for unexpected reasons who
would benefit from social connection on Thanksgiving. Offer to include them in your
celebration and help them feel less alone.

Including others at Thanksgiving can change a life. It’s hard to be alone on days when
most people are celebrating. Being aware of those who are vulnerable, lonely, and
needing support makes it possible for you to be a bright spot in their lives and truly
make a difference.