Thanksgiving is often seen as the official warm up holiday for Christmas. Eating a delicious feast, family time, and listening to Christmas music undercover because you’re not quite sure if it’s socially acceptable to yet makes it perfect training for the winter holiday season. But Thanksgiving can also be so much more. The popularization of ‘Friendsgiving’ has started many new traditions for college friends. Friends gathering together to celebrate the holiday and introducing cherished family recipes to new families is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit. This year, celebrate Friendsgiving with your friends, but be sure to do it right. Planning can be confusing and take a lot of thought. Here’s how to throw an epic Friendsgiving dinner while keeping the stress on that turkey in the oven and not the organization.

Two Days Out

A key to throwing a good dinner party is the planning. Ideally, two days before the event you’ll have your guest list and menu set. What makes Friendsgiving great is the potluck style eating. Have each of your friends bring one of their favorite Thanksgiving dishes from their family and maybe you’ll have something to add to your family’s spread next year. This also helps keep costs low for each individual person attending and allows accommodations to be made for differing dietary restrictions.

So decide who is bringing what and craft your menu. Sometimes it’s best to have the person hosting provide the main dish, whatever your group decides that might be whether it be turkey, ham, etc. And if your friends are anything like mine and love sweets, I recommend one or two desserts per five people. It’s always a fun idea to have at least one person bring a festive drink as well. For example, a fall sangria is always a hit. Find a great recipe for one here.

Madelyn Waddell

Once you have your menu set between you and your friends, make your grocery list. Going to the grocery at least two days before the dinner gives plenty of time for more quick trips for forgotten items while hopefully minimizing any trips on the day of. This is also a great time to make sure you are all set on serving platters and serving utensils, something I personally always forget about.

Madelyn Waddell

The Day Before

The Day before your epic Friendsgiving is all about prep. I like to do everything I possibly can the day before to minimize the to-do list and the oven’s schedule on the day of. For example, this year the day before for me was all about the dessert, the bread, and the drink, all of which are things that do not necessarily need to be eaten warm, and they won’t go bad sitting out for one night. Desserts are a great thing to knock out the night before because they can typically be eaten whenever. For the bread, loaves typically need to rise overnight anyway, so this is something that, if it’s on your menu, you need to be sure gets done the night before.

Madelyn Waddell

And drinks, like sangria, are often better if they have a few hours to set up anyway. These are just a few ways to take some stress off how hectic the kitchen will be the next day.

Madelyn Waddell

Day Of

The big day is here and it’s time to cook! How strategically you use your oven space will depend on how many dishes you are cooking, but here are a few things to consider. Pay attention to the oven temperatures need for your dishes, especially if they are different. Of course, if you are cooking a turkey, this will be your priority. Although, fellow college students, I highly recommend something like a turkey breast or one that is precooked and only requires heating. This not will not only save you money, but stress and time as well. 

As far as your other dishes, you want to start cooking early. It is always easier to reheat things or keep them warm in the oven than it is to be running late with 30 minutes still left on your green bean casserole. If you really are crunched for time with differing temperature requirements, pick a middle temperature and adjust the cooking time accordingly. And if more than one thing has to go in at once, no stress, just play some 'Tetris' and be sure to rotate them around. For more cooking tips, check out this Washington Post article.

If you get a chance to step away from the kitchen, let’s decorate! A good bouquet of fall colored flowers is always a great option for a centerpiece. It is also fun to add a couple pumpkin decorations and light a few candles. But remember, this is just fun with your friends, it doesn’t have to be super fancy. I highly recommend the use of paper plates and plastic utensils. Not only does this help with clean up, but you then do not have to worry about having enough plates and things. If you want to pick up a tablecloth or table runner, go for it! But usually friends will be just as happy with some fairy lights and a fake fireplace on the TV. 

Friendsgiving: The Event 

Madelyn Waddell

If you have survived to this moment, it’s time to relax. Have some laughs, be grateful, and enjoy your friends’ company because that’s what Friendsgiving is all about. And be sure to capture the moment! Being able to have a dinner with all your friends is a gift! Use these tips on how to plan an epic Friendsgiving and have a great time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Our Friendsgiving this year, video courtesy of the lovely @alithealou