Last Updated: May 18, 2020
Maybe you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving this year because you live in California and you go to school in Maine. Maybe you’re an international student and you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so you don’t want to go home for three days only to have winter break start in two weeks. Maybe you’re an American student studying abroad and you can’t make it home because you don’t get time off for the holiday. Or maybe you’d just prefer to stuff your face with your friends instead of (or in addition to) your family.
There are plenty of good reasons to throw a “Friendsgiving” as a college student. And if you want to give it a try this year, here are some things to remember.
It doesn’t have to be “just like the Pilgrims”
Fun fact: according to this article from Plimoth Plantation—a colonial experience in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims settled—the “traditional” feast is based on items typically available from a Massachusetts harvest, and the meals varied across the country in the 19th century when the holiday was first established. Where the food industry stands now, you have access to all those trimmings, but why not change it up? You can take your friends down to a local farmer’s market and cook up some in-season foods that you like. After all, it’s supposed to be about celebrating a good harvest, so why not celebrate your local bounty instead of just the crops in Wisconsin (the state that produces the most cranberries)?
It doesn’t have to be on Thanksgiving
Even if home is close enough to campus for you to get there for the holiday, you can still have a Friendsgiving. It’s not wrong to want to spend time with friends you care about, and food brings people together like almost nothing else.
If you live on campus, you can use a common space to put on a mini-feast. Some schools let you reserve spaces on campus, or you can use a common area in your dorm. If you host in your residence hall, make sure you let others know in advance that you’re going to be there (or tell them they can join!). Resident Assistants with a tight-knit community in your hall or on your floor: this could be a great res life event.
If you live off campus, you can easily set the table for you and your roommates to gather around for a family-style dinner. If you’re expecting a larger crowd that won’t fit around the table, feel free to set-up a buffet in your kitchen so you have more room to spread out.
It doesn’t have to be fancy
Do a Google search for Friendsgiving and you’ll get plenty of articles telling you how to best accomplish the task. One of the main things they recommend is a fancy set-up. But you don’t have to be Sandra Lee from the Food Network. Just make sure you have serving and eating utensils, plates, and napkins. If you want to decorate, there’s nothing wrong with a few good old-fashioned hand turkeys strung along the wall or a bowl of apples in the middle of the table. If you don’t want to decorate, that’s fine too! Your friends aren’t going to judge you for not having an eight-foot inflatable turkey in the front lawn, especially if you’re hosting in a cramped apartment or college dorm.
It doesn’t have to be perfect
There’s a lot of stress that comes with the holiday season—that’s a fact. And there’s a lot of pressure to throw a perfect holiday event. Many tears have been shed through the years over burnt cookies and turkey that wasn’t perfectly crisp. But you’re in college! You don’t have to know how to cook a turkey (most full-fledged adults don’t), and your meal certainly doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t stress about it.
Don’t believe me?
I spent a semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland. They don’t have Thanksgiving there, but everyone in the program was from the States, and we wanted to celebrate even though we didn’t get the day off. We decided to throw our own Friendsgiving because we’d gotten so close throughout the semester. A few girls opened their apartment for the 20 or so of us who showed up. We placed two tables into a relatively small living/dining room and squashed around them, half on kitchen chairs, half on the sofa and living chairs. No one could handle the burden of a full Thanksgiving meal on their own, so we made it a potluck and encouraged everyone to cook to their strengths.
Someone cooked a platter full of hot dogs, and we ended up with a flub so there were three types of potatoes, two of them mashed. The guy who bravely volunteered to cook the turkey got out of class late and it wasn’t ready until after 8:00 pm. By then we were stuffed and all the plates had been cleared, but we grabbed our forks and dug in for dessert turkey.
It was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever been to.
So if you’re thinking about doing a college Friendsgiving: do it. Soon enough you’ll all be graduating and moving all around the country, some across the world, and you won’t get to see your friends as often. Take some time this holiday season to celebrate each other and all the cranberries in Wisconsin while you still can!
Are you throwing a Friendsgiving this year? Tweet us your feast @CollegeXpress!