Thanksgiving is a holiday we look forward to celebrating each year. And that doesn’t have to change if you’ve shifted to RV living. Here are some tips for a great thanksgiving in your RV to guide you for this year’s celebration.
When you first think of it, it may seem a little harder to prepare for Thanksgiving when you’re not in a ‘permanent address’ and have limited space — your camper.
How can you gather people? Where will you ask them to sit? How can you prepare all the food?
Well, we’ll answer all those questions below.
Reserving your campsite early
Just like in regular camping, making sure that you have a campsite reservation is the very first step in planning your Thanksgiving celebration.
Campgrounds tend to be very busy on Thanksgiving so make sure to book a campsite MONTHS in advance. Don’t take a risk of deciding to come to a first-come, first-served campground on the day of the occasion itself, it’ll stress you out.
Unless of course you are set-up and prepared to boondock. Then I'd suggest checking the weather (temperature) in the place you plan to dry camp.
One of the best free activities for us RVing families is to host family or friends in your RV. To find friends, you can join FB groups and spread the word. Or, just contact the friends you've already met while traveling and put something on the calendar.
You can do the same for Thanksgiving.
It’ll be even easier if said friends were also RVers, meaning, you can all stay and have fun in the same campground.
This way, you can celebrate Thanksgiving together AND catch up and share tips about your experiences when you were apart.
Preparing the RV - Days Prior To Thanksgiving
Preparing the RV could be done a few days before the occasion. Make sure that you have everything you’ll need for a campfire, chairs, extra utensils and dishes for guests if you’re having them, and holiday decorations if you’d like to have some.
We recommend having lots of board games ready, both for the kids and the adults!
Also, make sure to check on kitchen appliances and accessories this early. You’ll need to know what you can use for cooking to finalize your Thanksgiving dinner anyway, might as well do it early to give ample time for buying ingredients.
Preparing the food
So the big question is, how will you prepare your Thanksgiving Dinner in your RV?
Of course, preparing food in an RV is different from preparing food in a ‘stationary’ house. With limited space comes limited appliances, so cooking sometimes needs improvisation.
But we can’t let that affect our Thanksgiving spirit.
Appetizers are easy to prepare, and there are countless options out there to choose from.
Even if you have limited appliances in your RV kitchen, know that making appetizers will most likely be the easiest part next to preparing drinks.
Pro Tip: you can set up a camping table outside to prepare many of these that don’t require cooking.
It doesn’t matter how many appetizers you want to serve but we recommend having these two:
An Herbed cheese Ball that you make using an electric hand mixer and;
Skewers which you can make with bacon, cheese, and a lot of other things (and without needing a kitchen appliance)
For some tips on dishes that we've prepared in our RV, check out these RV cooking ideas.
Make the most of your RV kitchen when preparing side dishes.
Personally, we use our instant pot to cook so many dishes like eggs, veggies, taco meat, and so much more. Maybe this tip can be of great use to you in preparing side dishes as well.
- Mashed potatoes and gravy
- Cornbread dressing
- Green bean casserole
- Sweet potatoes
This may not be a typical Thanksgiving dish, but my daughter wrote this blog post sharing her Instant Pot Chili for RVers if you want to check it out.
These are also all traditional side dishes that everyone loves!
Main Dish - Turkey
Turkey is the heart of every Thanksgiving celebration, it isn’t complete without it.
If you’re worried about not being able to cook a full-sized turkey in your small RV kitchen oven, we recommend that you get a turkey breast, not the entire bird.
You could roast it in your RV oven or cook it in your instant pot. You can buy more than one if you’re feeding a lot of people.
If you have no oven at all but still really want to have a turkey, you may consider barbecuing the turkey with a good outdoor grill like this one.
Another way to cook a turkey is using a slow cooker. Honestly, you can cook almost anything in a slow cooker or instant pot, you just have to research and viola! You’ll feel like a slow cooker is all you’ll ever need!
If you want to really use an oven, maybe you can find one in the common area of the campsite OR maybe you can plan to park your RV in a family or friend’s driveway for Thanksgiving and share a Thanksgiving dinner in their kitchen.
Another option is to buy a cooked turkey from a restaurant. Don’t be hard on yourself if you go this route, as long as you have one, no one will mind.
Or if you’re willing to really be different,why not try something completely different like a pork roast?
A great seasonal drink idea is to include some cranberry juice. You can choose from any cranberry-based juice and/or a Sherbet Punch.
Cranberry pineapple juice is a great option. If you have kids, consider turning it into Cranberry Pineapple Smoothie with the help of an immersion blender.
Pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. If you’re wondering if you can bake a pumpkin pie in an RV oven, the answer is yes!
My daughter and I have done it and so can you.
On the day of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a happy occasion that only comes once every year so make the most out of it.
Busy yourselves preparing the food and RV from morning until the afternoon. Then enjoy the food feast and time together.
If you have time before dinner, maybe you and your friends can even enjoy some outdoor activities like hiking and cycling.
After dinner, let the kids play and the adults catch up (or play as well). Don’t forget to end the night with a campfire to make the experience much, much better.
Other Holidays in your RV
It’s true that a lot of things are different once you start living in an RV full time. But that’s not a bad thing. You just have to know how to make it as fun or even more fun than the life you’ve lived before.
There are many fun ways to celebrate holidays in your RV or camping. Find some inspiration with these RV Christmas decorations if you plan to be in your camper in December.
What other easy-to-make Thanksgiving dishes do you recommend for RVers? Tell us below!