As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many students make plans to leave their college campus to trek home and give thanks to family and hometown friends. Thanksgiving is characterized by the turn of the lock in the door of a dorm room and a weekend bag slung over one shoulder for some — for others, it is just the opposite. In place of travelling home, many students are creating a new sort of Thanksgiving tradition in which they forego the expense and hassle of travel and instead give thanks with friends from the comfort of the University. This growing phenomenon, dubbed “Friendsgiving,” allows students to exercise their creativity and put a unique, independent, DIY twist on the holiday. Inside Beat offers helpful tips for a successful Friendsgiving for those planning to give thanks on the banks of the old Raritan this year.
1. Find a Friendsgiving Location: As a college student, chances are you don’t have a kitchen of stainless steel appliances at your disposal. However, many residence halls have communal kitchens, and likewise, a staple of on and off campus apartments is a kitchen. Seek out these areas as destinations to prepare food.
2. Potluck Pig Out: A potluck-style Friendsgiving is the best way to keep budgets low, while also adding some surprise to what could otherwise be a predictable spread of dishes. Have some friends volunteer to bring specified staples like stuffing, while allowing others to bring any food from a certain category, like dessert. This method will not only add some mystery to your Friendsgiving, but will also likely expose you to unique family recipes and dish twists you may never have tried before. Additional option: Turn to another cook if you and your friends don’t want to play chef. Local restaurants often advertise Thanksgiving specials for those looking to dine out or order in.
3. Bird on a Budget: The star of any Thanksgiving dinner is always the turkey. Many grocery stores offer Thanksgiving discounts or promotions, which often give shoppers the opportunity to earn a free turkey. Such promotions are generally based on points accumulated from previous shopping done in said store or from the achievement of a certain dollar amount at check out. After doing Internet research to locate participating area stores, talk to your friends to identify who may have a store shopper’s discount card or simply take a group trip to the store and combine all individual Friendsgiving food purchases into a single transaction to make the necessary dollar amount.
4. Add Friendsgiving Door Flair: For those hosting Friendsgiving, don’t be afraid to decorate your space. Cut ovals from multicolored pieces of construction paper, and tape paper pieces above your door to serve as a turkey’s tail. Next, cut out two round pieces of white paper and draw black dots in the center to serve as eyes. Finally, cut out a beak for your turkey and tape the eyes and beak to the center of your dorm, house or apartment door. Quick and easy, the door decoration will immediately put all of those celebrating in a festive mood as soon as they arrive!
5. Make a Charitable Cornucopia Centerpiece: Just as the turkey is the hallmark of Thanksgiving dinner, the centerpiece is the keystone of a holiday table. As you prepare to give thanks with those close to you, remember those who are less fortunate, and ask guests to bring one nonperishable item that can be donated to a local food pantry or shelter. While Thanksgiving occurs only once a year, many struggle to put food on the table year round. Place items for donation in a basket at the center of the table as a reminder of the good you’ll be doing to help others and to celebrate the generosity of you and your friends.
6. Create Gobble Glove Goodie Bags: Buy a pack of clear, rubber gloves and fill the gloves with candy. As the gloves are filled, they will expand, and the finger holes will mimic a turkey’s feathers, while the thumb hole will imitate a turkey’s head. Attach a sticky note to the glove labeled with the name of a given friend, as well as a reason why you’re thankful for that person. Use as seating place cards.
Gobble down these tips to create a Friendsgiving that’s as fun as it is filled with good food and good friends. Just don’t tell Mom that Friendsgiving was more fun!