Friendsgivings all look different. There are endless ways to approach hosting Friendsgiving and endless themes to choose from if a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t suit your friend group or living situation. From Charlie Brown Thanksgivings, to rainbow Friendsgivings, to literally any dress code you can think of, there are always creative ways to spice up your Friendsgiving. If you don’t have access to a kitchen, have everyone bring store bought sides, snacks, candy — the works. Even if you have to squish three tables together in your small living room to fit everyone, the memories you make at your Friendsgiving will be worth it. This guide to hosting Friendsgiving is for everyone. 

I gleaned tips from two hosting experts so you can host the party of you and your foodie friends’ dreams. Whatever you want your Friendsgiving to look like, this guide can help you achieve your vision with less hassle and more fun.

Food Assignments

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Obviously, food is an important part of Friendsgiving. However, the host does not need to take on the full weight of preparing an entire feast for their guests, so assigning each of your friends to bring a different dish is a great way to split the load. Plus, it’s a great way to have a variety of food on the table and experience everyone’s personal interpretations of classic Thanksgiving dishes. “As the host I recommend preparing the main dish and asking your friends to all bring side dishes,” Kim Roberts from the blog Feed My Friends said. “If it’s too expensive for one person to handle the main, pair up with somebody else to lighten the financial load.”

Communication is key. Assign dishes in whatever way works for you — personally, my friends and I use Excel spreadsheets for our Friendsgiving and each person claims a dish — but if you feel like group chats or emails work best, go for it. Roberts also said to “assign specific dishes… the more specific the better.” As much as I love apple pie, I wouldn’t want to have five apple pies at a Friendsgiving because nobody knew what anyone else was bringing. If you don’t know what to ask others to bring, here’s a list to help you get started. “Also,” Roberts added, “make sure your friends know how many people are joining so everyone knows how much of their dish to prepare.”

The Turkey

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As previously mentioned, it’s nice if the host is in charge of making the main dish, which for Friendsgiving is typically turkey. As a college student with a fear of raw poultry, cooking an entire turkey without my mom sounds terrifying. If that’s you, rest easy and know that there are other options out there. From Costco rotisserie chicken to pre-cooked and pre-sliced turkey, to vegetarian options, you do not have to tackle a giant raw turkey and be held responsible if it ends up burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.

However, if you feel inspired to take on the turkey challenge, cookout master Uncle Dibbz and I are in your corner to cheer you on. “For the rookies in turkey cooking, remember simplicity is key,” Uncle Dibbz said. “Get a good bird, season it well, and watch that temperature.” If you want to season your turkey “Durtty Bird Style” like Uncle Dibbz, here’s the seasoning he uses. The life-saving tool when cooking a turkey is a meat thermometer, because you’re “[aiming] for 165°F in the thickest part.”

Lastly, for anyone wondering about whether or not you should rinse your raw turkey in the sink before cooking it, Uncle Dibbz has confirmed that you should not rinse raw turkey, as “it can spread bacteria.” The only time you rinse your turkey, according to him, is “if you've brined your turkey, give it a quick rinse to remove excess salt, then pat it dry. This helps get that perfectly crispy skin when cooked.” Just remember to thoroughly wash your hands and clean your sink and surrounding counter to prevent a case of food poisoning. 

Other Friendsgiving Recipes

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If you want to do more than cooking the turkey (or other main dish) for Friendsgiving, or you’re someone bringing a side for a Friendsgiving, here are some recipes that steal the show without being too complicated to make. Uncle Dibbz shared his personal Friendsgiving favorite — KFC greens (kale and fresh collards) — because “it’s a crowd-pleaser and fits just about any dietary restriction. It’s healthy, hearty, and full of flavor.” Other Spoon University-approved recipes for Friendsgiving include but are not limited to: this veggie casserole that can sub out for the typical green-bean casserole, these Middle-Eastern lentils that might just be a mashed potato replacement, and these delightful vegan, sage and garlic biscuits.

As far as beverages go, Roberts said you can “remind people to also bring their own drinks.” There is nothing wrong with reducing your load as the host by having Friendsgiving be BYOD unless your guests only want water. But if you have a friend who wants to help you mix drinks for everyone or you’re comfortable doing it yourself, these cocktails are perfect for any gathering. Alternatively, take a trip to Trader Joes to buy everything you need for these spiked Fall classics.

Decorations & Set-Up

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Alright, the food is covered, so now it’s time to talk decorations and set-up. Roberts suggested picking decorations that are easy to put together but set the mood, such as “mini decorative pumpkins, tea lights inside small mason jars, and seasonal paper napkins.” Even if you only plop a tablecloth on your table, remember that it will soon be adorned with the food your friends bring, which is decoration enough. At the end of the day, it’s your friends that make the Friendsgiving, not the decorations, so don’t stress yourself out too much.

Another thing to consider is what you and your friends will be eating with. Not everyone has enough plates and silverware for all of their friends, nor does everyone want to wash them all post-party. “If you don’t have enough plates,” Roberts said, “use paper plates or borrow plates from a friend or family member.” Similarly, you can borrow chairs and tables from your friends, but if you have to, she says there is nothing wrong with sitting on the floor. No space is too small if you’re motivated enough to make it work.


Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Last but not least, it can be fun to have activities planned for you and your friends as everyone arrives, around the table, or post-meal. For a non-complicated game, Roberts suggested telestrations, as “you can make your own deck using paper and pens without having to buy the actual game.” She also enjoys using conversation starters with groups as they encourage bonding and laughter. If you don’t mind prep work, taste-testing games and drinking games make fun additions to your Friendsgiving. The main goal of Friendsgiving is to have fun and make memories with your friends, so planning an activity or two can help this along.

Final Tips

Our hosting experts boiled their experience down into a few final words of advice:

“Focus less on material things — food and decor — and more on the conversation and experience,” Roberts said. “That’ll be what your guests remember and take away.”

“Plan ahead, don’t be shy to go potluck style, and remember to have fun. A good playlist can set the perfect mood,” Uncle Dibbz added. “Hosting is all about creating those unforgettable moments with friends.”