The best holiday of the year is approaching: Friendsgiving. Who could pass up a holiday dedicated to hanging with friends and eating food? Before you leave to visit family, it is important to make time to appreciate the people who get you through each day, and have one last hurrah before break. With limited time, money, and cooking skills, creating the most iconic American meal can be challenging. Over the years I have hosted and attended some memorable Friendsgivings, so if you’re in need of some guidance or inspo for your upcoming Friendsgiving, take a look at the tips and tricks I have gathered below:
- Turkey: Let’s be honest, no one really likes turkey. Do you know one person whose favorite food is turkey? It’s dry, bland, and way too big of a bird. If you actually want to enjoy the main course, save tons of money, and not be left with an insane amount of leftover meat, the Costco rotisserie chicken is a must. It’s juicy, salty, and roasted to perfection. Since it’s already cooked, it cuts prep time, and it’s even budget-friendly at just 5 dollars a pop. Trust me, the turkey will not be missed.
- Mashed Potatoes: You cannot have a Thanksgiving meal without potatoes, but with our busy school schedules, who has time to peel, boil and mash potatoes? Microwaveable potatoes are the perfect solution. While they may not compare to your mom’s silky smooth spuds, it’s hard to mess up microwaveable mashed potatoes. The Costco brand is great for a large crowd, but if you’re planning on a more intimate gathering, Trader Joe’s has a great option too.
- Brussels sprouts: These are my favorite side at Thanksgiving, and they will be yours too if you follow my recipe. The key to a delectable side of brussels sprouts is caramelized onions and bacon. All you do is saute these ingredients with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, and you won’t be able to put the fork down. It may not be the most heart-healthy option, but this combo will be a hit at your Friendsgiving.
- Mac n’ Cheese: This side is a crowd favorite and you probably already have a couple boxes in your pantry. While Annie’s Shells and White Cheddar is not very traditional, it’s just about everyone’s favorite and just so *college* of us to incorporate.
- Dessert: Wait to satisfy your craving for pie at your family’s Thanksgiving. Pies take so much time and skill, and I have yet to find a store-bought pie that is edible. Instead, I suggest asking guests to bring their favorite dessert and end the meal with a sweet treat potluck!
- Champagne: Is there a better way to celebrate friendship? I don’t think so. Add a splash of cranberry juice and a rosemary sprig for a festive touch. If you are not of drinking age, replace the champagne with Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Juice.
- Games: Having fun games to play during or after a meal makes for an entertaining night. In addition to going around the table saying what you’re grateful for, sharing the rose (highlight) and thorn (low point) of this school year is a great fall quarter recap. After dinner, games like charades, Fishbowl, and Jenga are fun options. I also highly recommend downloading Jackbox Games on your TV to play Quiplash!
- Movies/ TV: The perfect way to end the night is watching Thanksgiving episodes from your favorite TV shows! New Girl, Friends, and Gossip Girl have some of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes and seem to be shows that everyone loves.
The friendships we make in college are one of the most valuable takeaways from our time spent at UCSB. Whether you celebrate with an elaborate dinner party or a simple microwaveable meal, be sure to show your friends you love them this holiday season.