Story By Joyce Jiang

Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to spending time at home with your family and friends. But what about your college friends that feel like family? The ones who make plans to take you out on your birthday, celebrate with you when you get a good grade on an exam, or offer sympathy after a bad day. Luckily, there is a way to celebrate this meaningful holiday season with them even if they cannot be with you on Thanksgiving day—have a Friendsgiving! To help you throw the perfect Friendsgiving, here are some tips.

  1. Choose which friends you’ll invite.  

When throwing your first Friendsgiving, it can be tempting to invite all your friends, but restraint is key. Figure out how many people you can realistically host and invite your closest friends. For example, if you only have eight chairs in your apartment, make sure you do not invite nine friends over (remember to count yourself as well!) as nobody wants to be the awkward person without a place at the table. If you still live in a dorm, the common area is a great place with plenty of tables and chairs to share a meal with your friends.

  1. Make the invitations.

Send your friends an invitation from a fancy template you found online or design your own if you are artistically inclined. There are many free programs, such as Adobe Spark or Canva, that you can use to easily design a stunning Friendsgiving invitation. Send a formal invitation instead of a text message, so your friends will treat Friendsgiving as a special event rather than a normal get-together. They’ll also be more likely to show up if they have to RSVP.

  1. Get a paper tablecloth.

Remember that sleepy feeling you get after Thanksgiving dinner? Well, this time make the cleanup for Friendsgiving quick and easy by using a paper tablecloth. For a creative twist, throw a few sharpies on the table and have your friends write directly on the tablecloth what they’re thankful for this year. As a bonus, it’s even compostable, so you and your friends can give back to the planet we are all thankful for. 

  1. Make it a potluck.

Share a spreadsheet with your friends, so they can sign up to bring different dishes to your Friendsgiving potluck. Throwing a Friendsgiving for the first time can seem intimidating, but you can easily cut down the stress by sharing responsibility for the food. For friends that are not as talented in the kitchen, suggest that they bring drinks.

  1. It’s not all about the turkey.

True, the turkey is a BIG part of Thanksgiving, but luckily for anyone who finds roasting a whole turkey daunting, this is Friendsgiving. Nobody will care if there’s no turkey, especially because they will soon be going home and eating more turkey than they could ever want. Instead, have a bunch of side dishes for your Friendsgiving, or even a roast chicken for an easier alternative to roast turkey (you can even buy a rotisserie chicken if you want a bird without going through the process of roasting it yourself).

  1. Accommodate for different diets.

Before I came to college, most of my friends ate meat. Now, about half of my friends are vegetarian or have some kind of diet that is different from my own. Make sure to ask your friends what they can or cannot eat. Your friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  1. Make room for dessert.

It’s the best part of every meal and the perfect ending to your Friendsgiving. Make sure you have some, even if it’s only a store-bought pie. After a semester of hard work, you and your friends deserve a sweet treat.

  1. Have paper plates, forks, and cups on hand.

If you do not have enough plates, cups and silverware, or you don’t want to do many dishes afterwards, just use disposable ones. It’s a simple fix, and none of your friends will judge, especially your friends who know you wait to do laundry until you’re literally out of clothes. See, paper plates sound great now in comparison, right?

  1. Christmas is not the only holiday you can decorate for.

There are plenty of fall-themed decorations available to help you set the mood for your festive Friendsgiving. Stop by the store to buy some colorful squash or ornamental corn, or invite your friends over earlier and make your own decorations together. You could paint clay pumpkins or simply make hand turkeys to hang on the walls. If you could do it in kindergarten, you can definitely do it now.

  1. Have fun!

At the end of the day, remember to just have fun with your friends. It will be perfect, no matter how big or small the the party or how fancy or crafty the decorations.