Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And that means it’s time for the 5 Fs that accompany this holiday: family, friends, football, food, and fun!

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all of life’s blessings and to truly evaluate what you are thankful for in life. But before you head home to celebrate this holiday with your family, consider taking the time to celebrate and give thanks for all the amazing friendships you’ve made here at SMU and host the perfect Friendsgiving for you and your friends.

Hosting a Friendsgiving is a great way to gather your friends all in one place, and ensure you get to spend quality time with them before the stressful last weeks of finals before winter break. Invite all your friends over and enjoy an evening of good food and good company!

Here’s your guide to hosting the perfect Friendsgiving party.

Preparation 

Before everyone comes over for the big day, there’s a bit of preparation that needs to take place.

1. Determine the Number of Guests

Figure out how many guests you want and how many your space can accommodate. You don’t want people having to sit on the floor if you can help it!

2. Gather Tables and Chairs

Make sure to clear space for tables and chairs. If you don’t have enough tables and chairs, try finding a friend who can lend you some folding tables or chairs! Or you can get creative; use a coffee table as a table and have people sit on cushions. 

3. Dishware and Cutlery

If you’re wanting an easier clean up, opt for paper plates and plastic utensils. But if you want a bit of a nicer feel to the event, take out some of your dishware and cutlery. It may take a little bit longer during clean up, but it’ll make for a much better dining experience (and it’s a little nicer to the environment too!) 

4. Make the Invitations

If you’re really wanting to go all out, create an invitation! Whether it’s a paper invite or a digital invite, this will definitely give your event a nice touch. If that’s a little too much effort on your part though, no worries. A simple text in a group message will also work. Make sure to include the date, time, location and any other important information (i.e. if everyone should bring a dish/side)

5. Decorate the Space

To add to the ambiance, find some fall/Thanksgiving inspired decorations to hang around the dining room area. This can really give the space a nice feel. Check out Target’s website for some cute decorations.

6. Make Place Cards

Adding place cards to you table is a great way to make sure everyone feels welcomed and like they have a designated space. Of course, people can feel free to switch up their seats, but having place cards is a simple touch that can elevate the look of the dining table!

The Food

Now that you’ve done some prep work, it’s time to focus on the main event…the food! If you really want to host the perfect Friendsgiving, then the food has to be superb – it is the star of the show after all.

1. Decide on Your Menu

First, determine your menu. Grab a pencil and notepad (or the iphone notes app will do) and write out every dish you want and how much food is needed. Be sure to consider dietary needs when making this list. (gluten free, vegan, etc.)

If you’re not sure what recipes to make or if want a little inspo, here are a few recipes that look absolutely delicious! Click on the title to view the recipe.

Mac and Cheese

A Thanksgiving essential.

Lentil Loaf

The perfect recipe for vegans and meat-eaters alike, this lentil loaf is a great alternative main dish if you want to skip the turkey.

Pecan Pie

What’s Thanksgiving without a slice of pecan pie?

2. Potluck Style or Single Chef?

Now that you’ve got the menu done, you need to decide just how these dishes are going to end up on your plate. If you’re in a Gordon Ramsay/Top chef kind of mood, then you may want to cook the entire meal yourself. While it’s quite the undertaking, it can also be very rewarding (provided you don’t burn everything)! But a simpler, and perhaps more fun option, is to go potluck style. Everyone can bring a different dish and contribute to the meal. This allows for different types of dishes to be incorporated into the evening, each with their own unique flare. It also can help ensure that everyone’s dietary needs are covered.

And pro tip: when all the festivities are over, make sure to send your friends home with some leftovers. That way, you aren’t stuck eating the same meal for the entire next week!

Activities 

Before the Meal

  • Get active – If you’re feeling up to it, get everyone to play a little friendly game of football beforehand to really work up an appetite. SMU has several open green spaces on campus to throw a football, frisbee, or any other type of sports-related item around. If you’re not in the active mood though, you can watch sports instead. Host on a Saturday or Sunday and watch college or NFL football!
  • Get craft-y – Set up a little craft station. As people start arriving, let your guest’s inner child show with some arts and crafts. Buy some construction paper and any other accessories and let your friends create a masterpiece like this one.

During the Meal

During dinner, it’s really all about enjoying the food and the conversation. So no need to have anything planned. But if you do want to incorporate a little something into the meal time, you can go around and have everyone say something they are grateful for. It’s a good way to get people thinking and reflecting.

After the Meal

Provided everyone isn’t in a food coma at this point, here are some fun games and activities you can do after your delicious meal that may make the food digest a bit easier.

  • Charades – Charades is always sure to get everyone laughing and in a good mood.
  • Card games – Card games are always a great, chill way to have fun. Some suggestions: Go fish (a classic), slapjack, crazy eights, cards against humanity.
  • Board games – On a similar note to card games, board games can also be a good way to have some low-key fun. Dig around in your cabinets to see what games you have.
  • Watch Football – If there’s a game on, you can all cheer on your favorite team together. 
  • Watch a Movie or TV show – Cozy up on a couch with all your friends and watch your favorite holiday movie together. Or watch one of the Thanksgiving episode of Friends! Those episodes really are the epitome of Friendsgiving!

Follow this simple guide to host the perfect Friendsgiving and to ensure that you spend quality time with your family and your friends this holiday season!

We hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful and full of delicious food, but if mingling with your extended family has you anxious, check out this article on how to avoid a Thanksgiving disasters.