Friendsgiving: Your Guide to a Successful Thanksgiving in College

Ah, Thanksgiving – one of the best holidays of the year. All the other 364 days of the year we yearn for the aromas of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cheesy casseroles with football games blaring in the background. We look forward to a great day surrounded by family and friends. But this year, for a variety of reasons, you can’t (or don’t want to) make it home for the holiday.

You’re in college now, and more than likely you’re not the only one who won’t have the chance to eat their dad’s awesome turkey, or inhale their mom’s epic cranberry salad, or devour their grandmother’s pumpkin pie.

But even though you’re pretty bummed about missing the holiday, don’t sulk too long – start planning your own “Friendsgiving!” Friendsgiving is basically Thanksgiving, but instead of chowing down with your family, you get to enjoy the day and meal with your buddies.


It may sound like a daunting task at first (and you’re admittedly not America’s next Master Chef) but you have all the essentials right under your nose. Here are a few tips and menu suggestions to make your “Friendsgiving” dinner a success!

1. Location, Location, Location

Do you live in a dorm? Well that means you likely have a community kitchen. Do you or your friends live off-campus? Even better – you have your own kitchen!

The key to an awesome Friendsgiving dinner is finding where you’re going to have it! Scour your dorm for a prime spot to grab some grub or host it at your apartment (or your friend’s place if they’ll let you).

The ideal Friendsgiving space will be an open, common room where a dining room (or fold-up) table can easily fit, with a kitchen just steps away!

to-bring list

2. Gift the Guest List a “To-Bring” List

After you have the location picked out and you have a head count of who will be attending – delegate, delegate, delegate! Yes, you’re hosting, but you’re also in college and we all know how expensive groceries can get. So assign items to each guest – one person buys beverages, another brings a side dish, and someone else is responsible for the pumpkin pie. This is a great way to make sure everyone is included on this splendid day and makes for certain that everything is accounted for.

3. Turkey Troubles?

If the thought of cooking a bird totally freaks you out, there are plenty of alternative Thanksgiving meats that will you give you the same holiday happiness without the headache.

Some of these substitutions include pork roast, baked ham, rotisserie chicken, microwavable salmon, or even pre-cooked sliced turkey.

If you absolutely have to have a turkey*, shop for the bird online! There are plenty of stores in every area that prepare turkeys (and baked hams) so all you will have to do is warm it up and serve.

*Remember: It’s not Thanksgiving, it’s Friendsgiving – you can create your own menu!

4. It’s All About the Sides

sidesNow, you might like turkey, but maybe you’ve never made a turkey before. So this Friendsgiving, make your dinner revolve around the side dishes. Mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, vegetable medley, stuffing, and dinner rolls are just a few suggestions. The best part about all of these sides is that you can prepare all of them from a box, can, or bag! If you really don’t trust yourself in the kitchen, pick up a vegetable tray or some cheese and crackers that the grocery store made for you.

5. Bust out the Board Games

After dinner, you and your friends are likely going to be stuck in a food coma. So ask all of your attendees to bring their favorite board game so you can relax, play some games, and enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the evening. You can pair this with leftover food and drink all in your dorm room or apartment!

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