7 Ways To Make Friendsgiving Your Next Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is the time for you to see family members that you don’t particularly want to see and stuff yourself full of stuffing. But Friendsgiving is for friends to get together, eat and just chill. Most credit the quasi-holiday to the television show, Friends, because of the Thanksgiving episode in every season where the five pals get together to talk about how crappy their lives are while Monica cooks everything or Rachel puts beef in the trifle. However, that is not what Friendsgiving is about today. According to Merriam-Webster, the first uses of the word is to simply describe a causal meal. 

Some have fancy decorations, a delectable spread of autumn classics or several bottles of wine, but yours can look however you want. Today, no two Friendsgiving dinners look alike, but they all share friends and eating a good dinner. 

Here are some of my inspirations for my upcoming Friendsgiving dinner.

To help yours go off without a hitch, try using some of these simple tips. 

  1. 1. Putlock style is preferred

    Friendsgiving dinners can go lots of ways: the host can make all the food and the guests can simply pitch in some money, or everyone can go shopping for the ingredients together and then all cook together. However, the easiest way is for everyone to bring a dish. This way no one person cooks more than the others and everyone gets a taste of each other’s cooking (hoping that’s a good thing). If you do choose to do a potluck style, remember that everyone is not the best cook, so be kind and appreciative that they brought anything at all. The most important part about Friendsgiving is the friends after all.    

  2. 2. It doesn’t have to be that serious:

    Friendsgiving is not restricted just to college students. It's plenty common among actual adults, but with students restricted budgets and limited resources it’s not always feasible to do a big spread or have some elaborate décor. Some of the Friendsgivings plastered over social media right now are filled with place settings that would make Martha Stuart proud, with custom name cards and themed plates. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have all of that (as much as I would love to have bowls in the shape of pumpkins) and that’s okay. 

    Friendsgiving is not some massive expression of the autumn décor department of Marshalls, but rather about – you guessed it – friends. So, a Friendsgiving could just be you and your best friend and a roast chicken from Publix, or you could go all out. But, just remember that yours does not have to look like everyone else’s. 

  3. 3. Organize, organize, organize.

    If you do plan on having a large spread and lots of guests, decide who is bringing what ahead of time. I know as college students it is engrained in us to do things last minute and be spontaneous, which is great, but this is not the time or the place for it. The highest suggested tool for this is a Google Sheets spreadsheet shared between all your guests so they can sign up for dishes. This way you won’t have two people bringing green bean casserole. If you are having a smaller dinner, with three or four people, then perhaps this isn’t necessary but with eight or 10 guests, coordination is key. This is also handy when you have last-minute guests who ask what they can bring. You can simply look at your spreadsheet and figure out what has yet to be taken. 

  4. 4. Can’t cook? No problem!

    We’re all in college, and some of us are culinary impaired or without access to a kitchen, so bringing a homecooked dish may not be feasible. That’s okay! Eating is not the only thing to do at a Friendsgiving dinner – drinking is always a possibility (legally of course!). Most alcohol is just as expensive as the ingredients of some Friendsgiving staples, so bringing a bottle can be an equally priced alternative.

    Most Friendsgiving experts recommend wine, however, that is not always the favorite of college students, so feel free to bring whatever your friends like to drink. If you are underage, bringing some premade options are a wallet and kitchen friendly alternative. Publix has a tasty whole roast chicken for $7.39 – I’m not a fan of turkey and I prefer chicken. Another great option is to bring a cheese or charcuterie board. It doesn’t require any cooking and they are super satisfying to put together. Plus, it’s something tasty to munch on while you’re waiting for the turkey to finish or for quests to arrive.

  5. 5. Don’t cop out with just a can of cranberry sauce 

    As much as I love that gelatin Ocean Spray cranberry sauce on my Thanksgiving recipes, that is not enough for a guest to bring when all the others are bringing big entrees and side dishes.

    Bringing something of equitable value is fair and will make the whole dinner go smoother because all of the friends feel valued. It’s also important to note that the host should not put up with this either. This is where the spreadsheet can be really useful. Perhaps on the spreadsheet you, or the host, can list all the dishes that you want at the dinner, so your guests can pick one to prevent anyone from being taken advantage of. As a host, in addition to their responsibility of having dinner in their home, is to make sure everyone is comfortable and is enjoying themselves. 

  6. 6. Hosts keep the leftovers

    This rule is a little flexible depending on the host’s preferences. When my roommate and I host dinners, we keep the leftovers because we do all the cooking and dishes and our guests do a buy-in for the ingredients. With a dinner as big as a Friendsgiving this rule can be tough, keeping all those leftovers may be a bit cumbersome, and a bit rude. So, make this decision ahead of time so your guests are not expecting to be sent home with a plate of turkey and mashed potatoes for some good day-after-dinner sandwiches and then end up leaving with nothing. That will only cause more problems in your friend group. 

  7. 7. Try something new

    Friendsgiving is not a substitute for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but rather an addition so that you can celebrate with your friends while not leaving your family out. So, instead of having the hackneyed dishes you are going to be tired of on Thursday, try out some lesser-known dishes to spice things up. 

    When I had Thanksgiving dinner with my significant other, who is Puerto Rican, last year we had potato salad and roast pork, a typical holiday meal in his household. A total departure from the usual Thanksgiving meal, but delicious. So, try a new recipe or research a different culture. This is also a convenient opportunity to make some dishes to accommodate your friends with dietary restrictions, like making a tofurkey (a turkey-esk tofu dish).

Going home for Thanksgiving may not be feasible or safe for you this year, or maybe you just want to have a cordial evening with friends. Either way, a Friendsgiving dinner is a great way to celebrate the season and your friends. So, get out your best cutlery and those extra-strong paper plates and prepare to be full!