Skip to main content

Turn Thanksgiving Into Performance Art With These Outfit Ideas

And a cluck cluck to you, too.

Pugsley Addams dressed as a turkey in Addams Family Values

Okay, I’m gonna be completely honest here: I kinda hate the holidays. It’s not because I’m trying to be a Daria or anything, but I just hate the expectations and pressures that the holidays put on people. Ideally, they’re a time when your loved ones come together and you can all snuggle and eat and chill out after a long year. In practice, you end up remembering why you chose to move away from certain people.

So to all ye currently held hostage by familial customs (most of you, I’d imagine): hey babe, I gotchu. You absolutely have permission to just step away from the chaos and find the comedy in it all. And what better way to express this spirit than to embody it with a special Thanksgiving outfit?

“How does one dress for Thanksgiving?” you may ask. The answer is: with humor, panache, and a willingness to commit to the bit. Still with me? Keep it up.

The Finance Cousin Who’s Successful but Internally Hollow

patrick bateman saying ooh

Before any of you “WELL ACTUALLY” bros try to come at me, let me be clear: not every “finance guy” is internally hollow. But for the sake of everyone who’s ever had to sit down and listen to Aunt Snot tell you about how her son Jimmy is the Senior Exec of Douche Incorporated while you’re, you know, poor, I felt the need to point something out: there’s a good chance Cousin Jimmy hasn’t had an authentic sense of self since he was 10.

But if you want to get those relatives off your back and really just soak up the festivities as though you’re on Wall Street snorting cocaine off stacks of Benjamins, or whatever rich people do, then all you have to do is dress like ol’ James. Put on a blazer and some nice form-fitting slacks, wear loafers sans socks (NEVER with socks) and don’t even bother with a tie, and be sure to leave some chest open so your family can see your hollow heart for themselves.

The Fun Aunt Whose Moods Are Mercurial

Danny DeVito wearing a funny white wig in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

You can really get creative with this one. For some, the Fun Aunt dresses strictly in clothes she got from Cost Plus, which means lots of colors and wool. For others, she’s a corporate superstar who shows up the entire family—not to be rude, but because her favorite clothes happen to be expensive.

Either way, cosplaying as your Fun Aunt means you have diplomatic immunity for the rest of the night. Everyone knows you have a wildly fluctuating sense of passion and malaise, so for the most part, people will let you do and say whatever the hell you want because the party wouldn’t be the same without you, AND they wanna keep an eye on you while they can. So spice it up. Drop the most boiling-hot take, take a swig of your sherry, and then immediately turn to your nearest niece and tell her that men ain’t shit. I guarantee you’ll make her entire night.

The Dour Aunt Who’s Helpful but Kind of a Drag

Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer on SNL

If you literally don’t want to talk to anyone and just want to get through the night, Dour Aunt is the way to go. This woman is a powerhouse in the kitchen. She’ll clean any dish you give her because her side of the family really hammered home the stoicism, but god forbid you engage her in any form of small talk.

All you have to do is wear baggy clothes that have never fit a human form in their entire existence, really embody your RBF, and practice having uncomfortable conversations in the mirror. You don’t even have to completely adopt a new persona, you can just use this as an opportunity to embrace positive negativity. Someone asks about work? Tell them you do not dream of labor and offer to share a copy of your manifesto instead. When they try to ask about your dating life, tell them your ex took your cat. Now you only have two cats. Congrats! Now maybe you’ll get some peace and quiet!

The Weird Uncle You Don’t Know How To Talk To

Nicolas Cage in Pig

This poor thing tries. He really does. But the thing is, Weird Uncle lives his own life. He probably has a hut out in the woods where he grows his own produce and raises his own chickens. Weird Uncle is like Nicolas Cage in Pig. You’re intrigued by him, but talking to him is a nightmare.

Damn, though, he’s got some swaggy sweaters. Weird Uncle’s fashion sense is what every non-binary friend I’ve ever had has tried to emulate. And if you, too, exist in that ballpark of Sweaters, Trousers, and Bedhead, then Weird Uncle is the perfect role for you to adopt for Thanksgiving. All you have to do is dress like you just got back from a hard day’s work at the farm, show up with only raw vegetables, and when people ask what you’ve been up to, give them a thousand-yard stare and simply reply, “What I always do.” What do you always do? Only you know, you beautiful weirdo.

Your Poor, Frazzled Mom

The infamous "Where's my family?!?" scene from Chris Fleming's Company Is Coming!
(Chris Fleming)

Not to be all “gender norms” here, but there’s a good chance you grew up in a family where your mom did most of the heavy lifting in the kitchen—which is profoundly uncool, mind you, and I hope that we’re all moving in a direction where the division of holiday labor is becoming more equal.

… that said, if you really want people to leave you alone on Thanksgiving, just channel your inner Mom. Put on a nice outfit, sure, wear your favorite cardigan and flats, but let everything else be pure unbridled chaos. Makeup? Messy and heavy as hell. Hair? Frazz-to-the-led. The look in your eyes? Feral. Nobody will dare ask you to do anything because “I have to do EVERYTHING in this goddamn house!!!!”

You can use this line in response to normal questions, too. “Hey, whatever happened to that guy you were—” “Oh, GOD FORBID I have to think about THAT GUY while I’m juggling EVERY OTHER TASK IN THIS PIGSTY OF A HOME.”

Your Dad Who’s Suddenly Charming

angry dad steve with his hands on his hips in stranger things 4

Oh, sure, when you talk to Dad it’s all, how’s work goin’, what’s on TV, put on a sweater, etc., etc. But when you have company over, NOW the guy’s got banter. Suddenly your dad is pulling out jokes you didn’t even know he had in him—whatever happened to the guy yelling at political TV shows????

Your dad’s ability to superficially host is nothing short of impressive, and you wanna be him. You wanna be The Guy? Just dress like your dad. Wear a sensible sweater from RVCA that he got from your mom, a pair of shorts even though it’s cold now, and boom, suddenly you’re Poppin’ it up. If you really wanna phone home, wear a goddamn baseball cap to dinner. You don’t even have to know anything about baseball! Just say some shit like, “Who remembers Tim Lincecum?” and suddenly you’ll have the respect of every old man at the table. You know, if that even matters to you.

Your Dog

Wilfred, the dog from Wilfred, the TV series

This one might be kind of a tough sell. Cosmetically, it’ll be easy to put together: just wear a dog onesie (NOT a fursuit, unless you really want to get kicked under the table) and maybe some socks. But practically, pretending you’re the cutest creature in the room who eats scraps off the table may not get you super far.

I guess you could always try to frame it as a Moonrise Kingdom sort of thing, like it’s just a phase. Unfortunately, we adults don’t really get to have “phases” anymore. They’re called “midlife crises” instead. Doesn’t hurt to try, though.

A Dead Colonist

A wise man once said, “The only good colonist is a dead colonist.” Let’s not forget that this holiday was produced by the bloody hands of American Imperialists. If you really want to make a statement, you’ll bring that little piece of history with you to dinner.

I mean, will it be a little intense? God, yeah. But hey, you didn’t ask to be subjected to Small Talk City. May as well be an educational force of nature while you’re at it.

(featured image: Paramount)

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at