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To Host or Not To Host: A Friendsgiving Checklist

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Friendsgiving is something I dreamed of hosting for years, beginning all the way back in my freshman year of high school. It started with watching all nine Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” (specifically “The One With the Football” and “The One With All the Thanksgivings”). My love for Friendsgivings grew with increasingly cute TikTok and Instagram posts in recent years.

Last year, my friends and I had a Friendsgiving with about twenty-five people that was absolutely perfect. The food was incredible, we talked, we played games and it was great. However, we realized that more goes into planning a Friendsgiving than your typical night with friends.

Before deciding whether you want to host a Friendsgiving of your own, here’s a quick checklist to run through of what you need and what you should plan on doing before sending out those invitation texts.

Do you have the space for everyone to sit and eat?

In a college apartment, it is perfectly acceptable to not have enough table space for each person to sit and eat at a table. Only having one tiny dining table does not make-or-break your Friendsgiving event. However, you do have to consider the space you have.

Will people be eating on the couch? The floor? Is your floor carpeted? 

If people are eating on the couch or the floor, this is fine, but definitely take this into consideration when buying plates. Basic paper plates will be way too flimsy for people to hold when they are piled high with hot Friendsgiving foods, and you run a major risk of getting food all over your furniture, floor and friends. 

Make sure that if you are purchasing paper plates, they are a heavy-duty paper plate with a reinforced bottom. Get something that will not bend when food gets piled up on top.

Do you have space for all the food?

My Friendsgiving was a potluck, so everyone brought a little something to share. If you do the same, you don’t have to worry about preparation space.

However, you still should consider whether there is enough space for all of the dishes to be lined up for when people fill their plates. You need counter space for hot dishes, Crock-Pots, plates, napkins, forks, spoons, cups, drinks and more.

Make sure, depending on the amount of people you are inviting over, the space is also conducive to everyone lining up to get food at the same time. If you have a galley kitchen, like in my apartment, there simply isn’t room for all of those people to get food at once.

Did you create a sign-up sheet for food?

Many people hate the idea of creating a spreadsheet or a Google Doc for a fun event with friends because it makes it feel like a school assignment, which is completely understandable. However, to successfully host an event like this, you need a little organization.

There is nothing worse than showing up to a Friendsgiving and finding out that you have three bags of tortilla chips and four boxes of cookies, but no entrees or drinks.

The only way to successfully pull off a Friendsgiving is by making sure people know what is still needed and that people bring a variety of food. Create a simple sign-up sheet with names and a blank space for the food that person is preparing, and make sure everyone knows not to sign up for food that is already on the list.

What made our Friendsgiving so great was the variety of food everyone brought, from mac and cheese to lumpia, to deviled eggs and cheesy bread. Encourage your friends to make their favorite recipe to share with everyone, regardless of whether it’s a traditional “Thanksgiving” food.

are you aware of the dietary restrictions of everyone in your group?

You need some place, whether on the sign-up sheet or not, for people to list any allergies or dietary restrictions that they have. Friendsgiving should be fun for everyone involved, but if your gluten-free friend only has two options for food, it instantly becomes a miserable experience.

It is especially important to make sure that you are aware of everyone’s allergies and make everyone aware of the dangers of cross-contamination. Some allergies are so severe that even if food that doesn’t contain the allergen was prepared near that allergen, or someone did not wash their hands well enough before cooking, that food can be contaminated.

It is important to make sure everyone at Friendsgiving is safe and feels included, so make sure to take allergies and dietary restrictions into account.

Do you want to decorate?

Whether you decorate or not is completely your choice, and depends on you and your group of friends, as well as who is actually hosting the event. I personally am a decorator and absolutely would bring some candles, a tablecloth, little pumpkins and leaf decor.

However, if this is not the vibe for you and your friend group, don’t feel any pressure. Just consider ahead of time whether you’d like to decorate or not so you don’t have to run out for decorations the hour before.

What do you have planned for after the meal?

When preparing for a Friendsgiving, people always get hung up on the details of the meal itself: getting the plates and utensils, preparing the food, setting a time to eat, creating a space for people to eat, etc. However, people forget that eating a meal only takes about twenty minutes for most people. Once the meal is over, what do you want to do with all your friends gathered there?

Depending on the amount of people and your dynamic with them, you may not need to plan anything at all. It may just turn into a hangout where everyone sits around chatting for the rest of the night.

However, if you are inviting a larger group of people, you may need at least a loose plan to keep the event from devolving into chaos. Last year, we all played Jackbox games, which is a really fun way to engage everyone in the room. You could also pull out card games or settle in for a movie after dinner. 

Is the event dry?

This is an important expectation to set ahead of the event.

Nothing will ruin a Friendsgiving faster than having half the group pregame and bring alcoholic drinks to go with the meal, expecting a party, while the other half comes sober expecting a chill dinner. Just ask your group and make it clear with everyone whether the event is alcoholic or not.

Is there a dress code?

The main theme of planning an event with a large group of people is communication. If you want to take cute pictures with everyone dressed up for Friendsgiving, that’s great. If you want a chill Friendsgiving where you wear stretchy sweatpants for the big meal, that’s also great. Just make sure everyone knows the vibe.

You can do this in a casual way by letting people know what you are wearing or just saying something like “dress cute please, I want some pictures with you all” or “don’t worry about dressing up, this is a laid back event.” 

It’s just important to establish this so that nobody feels left out by coming overdressed or underdressed. The best way to make sure everyone feels included is by making sure everyone has all the information.

Will you have the event before or after break?

It is important to work around the schedules of your friends, because fall break is coming up rapidly (November 18th-26th). If you want to have a Friendsgiving before fall break, it is important to start reaching out to friends as soon as possible to make sure they are available.

Many students leave for their hometowns before the Saturday that officially begins Thanksgiving Break. Instead, plenty of students decide to head out earlier in the week, skipping their classes at the end of the week in favor of more time at home. 

Take the time to reach out and gauge interest for a Friendsgiving, then start checking in with your friends about their schedules.

Have so much fun with your Friendsgiving, and I hope this little checklist helps with the planning process! 

Emma is a third-year Elementary and Early Childhood Education major at Penn State University. When she's not writing, you can usually find her singing, reading, painting, going on walks, hanging out with friends/her incredible boyfriend, and drinking iced chai lattes. Outside of Her Campus, Emma is the President of the Penn State Singing Lions, a Students United Against Poverty Ambassador, a member of the Phi Eta Sigma honors fraternity, and works at an after-school program.