Whether you’re hosting a Friendsgiving because you couldn’t go home for the holiday, got stuck working the Black Friday retail madness, or to combat the semi-regular wine nights with an actual meal (but also wine), one thing is for sure — it has to be done on a college-friendly level. Not just because we’re all balling on a budget, but because most of us are in the very early stages of learning to cook.
Even if you’re going home for Thanksgiving, you can still plan a Friendsgiving for another night or weekend. “Friendsgiving” is a broad term that encompasses a large gathering of friends any time between Thanksgiving and New Years, really. You all have your own schedules and often the hardest part of hosting one of these events is picking a time that works for everyone, but trust us — it’s worth it.
For those of you who are new to cooking and event planning, we’ve made a guide for navigating the cheapest and easiest Friendsgiving possible:
- Host is responsible for the turkey. The most responsible friend always plans the events, so it makes sense to put them in charge of the dish that requires the most planning. For the organized yet clueless, use this recipe, which is basically turkey cooking for dummies. Protip: cooking the turkey also means pre-making turkey stock. And if you buy a frozen turkey, let it thaw in the fridge for at least two days before cooking it.
- If you’re in the business of homemade gravy, the host should make that too. I didn’t know this was made with bird parts, but it is. Use those to pre-make turkey stock, and then double-time it while the turkey is in the oven to make the gravy.
- Everyone brings a side dish. Assign different people to different food groups, making sure to cover all your bases: stuffing, casserole, vegetables and salad are key components.
- And snacks. Snacks are important, especially in the event that everything isn’t ready on time or people are late. Chips and dip, cheeses, hummus, cheese balls, spinach puffs, bruschetta — there are endless opportunities. Appetizers keep the people from getting hangry.
- Don’t forget desserts. We’re talking all the pies, cheesecake, something with chocolate, those fun pumpkin rolls, cobbler, bread pudding or really anything you can top with ice cream. It’s about giving the people what they really want.
- Those who can not cook, bring wine. Honestly, even if you can cook, bring wine. If nothing else, be sure that you don’t run out of wine. If you’re under 21 (or don’t drink), sub soda or tea in for wine, but follow the same policy.
- Just buy the cranberry sauce. Homemaking is a lot of hard work and none of you are going to really be able to tell a difference. Make one of those recipe-less wine buyers bring a few cans of cranberry sauce and serve it out of a plate or bowl that’s kind of pretty. No one else will ever know.
- Know there are alternatives. If you don’t want the hassle of making a turkey, try a brisket, ham, or roast chicken.
- Put forth the effort to set the table. Depending on your budget, buying decorations and dishes and nice things to set the table with might be out of the question, but definitely take the time to use what you have to make some sort of spread. You wouldn’t want to show up to Thanksgiving to a bare table, so don’t make your friends do it on Friendsgiving.
- Enjoy. Make a night of it. Whether that means sitting around the table for hours on end, picking out a holiday movie to watch after dinner, or pulling out games like Cards Against Humanity, this event is designed to celebrate the people you’ve chosen to be closest with. Make the most of that time.
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