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Thanksgiving, for those who celebrate it, can become a loved and hated holiday during college. It comes just before finals when we are spending all our time drinking caffeine in the library and stressing about our pending grades. For some, the idea of leaving the computer and socializing with extended family and friends for a few days sounds painful. At the same time, the long weekend and home-cooked meal may be the perfect mental reset before the quarter comes to an end. No matter how you feel about your Thanksgiving traditions, the spirit of gratitude and sharing time with the ones you love is something that everyone can do. Here is my guide for a successful “Friendsgiving” event, college-budget edition.

Obviously, the key piece of this event is the food. I recommend having a potluck-style meal, where each guest either makes a dish to bring or picks something up at the store. This method works well for college friend groups in which a couple of people may have culinary skills while others may prefer picking up a pumpkin pie or some apple cider at Trader Joe’s. To make the meal even more fun, ask your guests to bring a dish that is a part of their own Thanksgiving traditions at home. For me, it’s my great-grandmother’s famous bright green jello mold that my friends are terrified to try, but my family loves! 

The next step is organizing the event and set up. If you have any creative skills, check out Evite to make a virtual invitation to send out to your friends! There’s an option on their invitations to include a potluck, which will encourage your guests to bring their own dishes or supplies. Once your friends are invited, plan a time beforehand so you are able to clean up your kitchen and dining space! In my house of nine girls, we like to pick an hour out of the day and have a “cleaning party” where we play music and all pitch in to clean up the house. The decorating and setting up is totally up to your own taste. As for me, I recommend pulling out some string lights, candles, and any fall-themed decor, including leftover pumpkins from Halloween. You may want to take a quick trip to the dollar store for paper plates and a tablecloth to help make the clean-up process a little bit easier. 

When your guests arrive, give everyone something to drink and a plate to fill up with plenty of food! My favorite Friendsgiving tradition is to go around in a circle once we sit down and name all of the things we are grateful for about each person at the table. In all of the busyness of college life, it can be a welcomed break from your fast-paced day and a great reminder of all of the people at school who love you. 

For bonus points, consider making a Friendsgiving recipe book. I saw this idea on Tik Tok where the creator gathered the recipes from all of her friends’ dishes and made them into little booklets that the guests could bring home with them. It was especially fun because each friend wrote their recipe in their own voice which made some of them very personal and funny to read!

While Thanksgiving is only celebrated by some, the spirit of the holidays and feelings of gratitude are special for anyone, and can be a much-needed break in times of stress. A holiday themed potluck could be the perfect way for your friend group to relax and take some time to enjoy each other’s company before the end of the quarter. We would love to see your events, so feel free to DM us on Instagram to send us photos and let us know what you planned for your Friendsgiving at @hercampusucsb!

Sydney is a Communication and Feminist Studies double major and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She's a Petaluma, California native, the egg capital of the world! When she's not writing, you can find her pole dancing, playing with cats, and listening to true crime podcasts.
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