How to Throw the Best Friendsgiving Celebration

Written by Brynn Elson

For many students, travel over the Thanksgiving holiday is impractical due to the length of the break and the cost of flights home. This year, COVID-19 is also complicating travel plans. For the first time, students will be able to stay on campus for Thanksgiving—which means that they’ll be celebrating here, with friends rather than family. Here are six tips to throw a great Friendsgiving celebration.

1. Don’t be afraid to downsize.

As a college student with limited kitchen access, you have every right to pare down the menu. Try making a rotisserie chicken if turkey is really daunting. There’s no shame in serving a store-bought pie, either.

That said, you might want to take advantage of the fact that many students will be leaving for break. All of the dorms have kitchens (some larger than others), and they’ll be much less crowded than they normally are.

2. Planning is key.

Put each menu item in a Google Sheet so that everyone can sign up for their dish (or dishes). That way, you won’t end up with twelve pies and zero turkeys. At this point, you should also consider dietary restrictions and plan accordingly. Your vegan friend will be upset if she can’t eat anything on Thanksgiving Day.

Plan your use of the dorm kitchens strategically, because an over-full kitchen makes the day stressful rather than fun. Since you and your friends will most likely have access to different dorm kitchens, you’ll have multiple stovetops and ovens. This will be hugely beneficial when it comes to splitting up all the cooking.

Some things, like pies and bread, can bake the night before. Here’s a complete Turkey Day Timing Guide.

3. Curate the perfect “Thanksgiving vibe.”

Start by putting on your Sunday best. This holiday will feel a lot different than it normally does, because we’re all used to spending Thanksgiving with our families. To make the day feel more like “real Thanksgiving,” put on a nice outfit.

It helps to dress up your space, too. An inexpensive tablecloth and a simple cranberry garland will do the trick. Mini pumpkins (a few dollars from the store) would also make cute centerpieces.

These fancy-looking disposable plates and utensils are a win-win: they all match (unlike the assorted dishes in your dorm kitchen), and they make for easy cleanup.

To build up the Thanksgiving “vibes” even more, get a good playlist going and simmer some mulled apple cider on the stove to make the space smell festive.

4. Share family recipes and traditions.

You might be homesick, but at least you’ll have Grandma’s mashed potatoes on the table. Sharing family recipes is also a great way to get to know your friends better: maybe there’s a story behind someone’s family’s recipe for pumpkin pie.
While you’re at it, share family traditions. If your family crashes on the couch after dinner to watch Charlie Brown and your friend’s family puts up the Christmas tree in the evening, do both!

5. Think of new people to invite.

Know somebody who can’t go home for Thanksgiving? Invite them to your celebration. No one wants to be alone on a holiday, and this is a great way to make new friends.

6. Call your family at some point during the day.

At some point on Thanksgiving, you and all your friends should take a break from each others’ company to call home. Your family will appreciate a call from you (even if it’s just fifteen minutes) on this traditionally family-oriented day.

The goal here is not to replace your family with your friends or to make Friendsgiving on campus an exact replica of Thanksgiving at home. Rather, the goal is to share a piece of yourself with your friends. You and your friends won’t just share turkey and pie; you’ll share family recipes and traditions, and you’ll strengthen your friendships along the way.

Brynn Elson, ’23, is a biochemistry major with a decent comprehension of the English language. She enjoys drinking coffee, playing the clarinet, and overcommitting to things. When she’s not studying (which is rare), you might be able to find her running (read: getting lost) on the back roads or complaining about Hillsdale’s lack of mountains.

Published in November 2020