Friendsgiving: A How-to Guide

Putting together the celebration can be hard, especially if you’ve never done it before. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started.

By Riley Martinez | November 20, 2023 12:00pm
by Natalie Gordon / The Beacon

Maybe you’re sticking around over break. Perhaps you don’t celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving. Or you might just want to share a meal with your buddies for its own sake — maybe even all three. Whatever the case, you’ll be one of the many people celebrating Friendsgiving.

Friendsgiving is a holiday spinoff of Thanksgiving — all the same carby food and fall colors but without the family drama. But if it’s your first go-around at this, you might be thinking: “What if I live in a dorm? Should I keep it small or invite everyone I know? What do I ask people to contribute?” If questions of this type are rattling your brain as you plan for the dinner, I hope this column can get you started. 

Let’s start with organizing. Who — and how many — to invite? Consider your location. If you’re trying to recreate the Last Supper, a dorm room might not be the best idea. On-campus Friendsgivings are best suited for small, intimate groups. Think about how many people you can comfortably fit into a room (about four, give or take). And if you can score the dorm lobby, maybe a few more. 

If you live in a house off campus, you’ll probably be able to accommodate a larger group. But keep in mind: the more people, the more mouths there are to feed. Unless you’re running a Michelin star restaurant from your rental house, distributing the work efficiently is a must. My suggestion is to create a group chat to make sure your invitees are on the same page about who’s bringing what. That way, you don’t get three different renditions of stuffing and four of the same salad.

Assuming you’re the host, take the initiative and serve up a killer main dish. This is your chance to be creative. If you’re like me and think that turkey is one of the driest, least-fun meats out there, go for roast ham or rotisserie chicken. It’s Friendsgiving, no need to be traditional, right? For meatless folks, try out tofurkey — one of my favorite portmanteaus and holiday meat alternatives. And if an oven is out of the question, you can find plenty of pre-cooked mains and sides at Fred Meyer and New Seasons. 

As far as drinks go, it’s hard to mess up. Who can turn down Martinelli’s Apple Cider? Unfortunately, there are always a few, so keep some cranberry juice and La Criox on deck. If you’re of age, do the right thing and pair your feast with a bottle of wine or fruited cider. I’m partial to red blends, but when in doubt, follow your palate. 

And for dessert, make it easy on yourself. Grab a pie and some ice cream, or make a batch of Nestle chocolate chip cookies; Toll House cookie dough makes everybody happy. 

If you’re still unsure about what to bring, remember: Friendsgiving is more than the food. It’s also the atmosphere. Afraid you’ll botch the cranberry sauce? Take charge of the aux and curate a playlist for the evening. Cocktail jazz, club, Midwest emo — whatever you choose, you’ll help create the ambiance. In my opinion, for holiday get-togethers there’s nothing like Vince Guraldi to turn your dining room into a Hallmark movie. 

You can contribute to the atmosphere with scented candles (I like cedarwood), flowers or even a list of movies to watch once the meal is over and the conversation has subsided. And if all else fails, carry the team and bring extra cutlery and dishes; you make it a more sustainable Friendsgiving by avoiding plastic utensils and paper plates. 

And of course, bring your best self. Friendsgiving is about community and bonding. Put aside work and school and focus on the time spent with people you love. Raise a glass and make a toast for the miracle of friendship. Whether you’re dining with two or 20, this quasi-holiday is what you make of it. 

The first Friendsgiving I celebrated was 800 miles from home in an apartment living room. I was away from my parents and most of my family. I celebrated with my only sibling in Oregon (who’s a criminally-talented chef), their partner and our dog. We ate ham, tofurkey and cranberry sauce, and (no surprise here) we drank Martinelli’s. It wasn’t the Thanksgiving I grew up with — the one with waves of extended family and enough food to put you in a coma. It was quaint and humble. And it was everything. 

I hope the same for you. 

Riley Martinez is the Copy Editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at