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How To Throw A Thanksgiving Party For Friends


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time. I know on Christmas you get presents, but on Thanksgiving you get food. One year I couldn’t celebrate TG with my family because I was studying abroad in London – a place where they do not celebrate TG (obviously). It really sucked balls because it was my favorite holiday and I was seriously homesick to the point of having a mental break! When we go away for school it can be super hard, but not being able to spend the holiday with your fam can be a serious bummer – the kind where you start pondering your college experience and sulking about why you don’t feel like you’ve connected with anyone and all that crappy feelings stuff.

The reality is you probably have connected with a bunch of people and plenty of them are totally bummed too – so have a Thanksgiving sulk fest together. Now, let’s get down to business.

Who To Invite

Your Second Family: Usually by junior year you have an established group of friends, some of which you know you’ll be BFFs with until the end of time. This can be super fun and simple. Only inviting your closest friends will keep the guest list short, the mess small, and the budget cheap. Plus, it will be intimate, comfortable and way less stressful than having an all out bash.


Everybody: Typically during freshman and sophomore year you’re still paving your way and putting feelers out for the kinds of people you want to let into your life and chill with. You may not feel close enough or comfortable enough around a small group of people in an intimate setting – let’s face it, that shiz can be awkward if you’re not BFFs with everybody. The solution is simple, Facebook it! Send out a mass invite to all of your friends, emphasizing that all are welcome who don’t have anything better to do for the holiday and of course add several exclamation points after, “There will be free food and alcohol (if you’re of age)!!!!”

The Food

Potluck: If you went for the intimate bash, a potluck dinner may be your best bet.

  • Send out a group email to your buddies with a list of all the dishes you need (turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, yams, ham, greens, beverage and dessert are typical).
  • Assign each person a dish to make and maybe even provide links to simple recipes.
  • The day of, everyone will bring in their masterpieces and you’ll have a full-on feast.


Party Style: Going for the party style requires a lot more work. People usually expect their to be food and drinks already there. How do you serve 15 – 30 people without going absolutely cray-cray? Keep the portions small and keep them coming. The supermarket is your friend.

  • Buy a ready-made roasted turkey breast, french bread, cranberry sauce, boxed stuffing and a simple vegetable like green beans.
  • Buy a couple of pumpkin and apple pies, a few bottles of wine, soft drinks, toothpicks and some disposable cups, plates and forks.
  • Before the party has even started get organized.
  • Instead of turkey pieces serve mini turkey sandwiches.
  • Smear cranberry sauce on some french bread, slap on a few pieces of turkey and shove a toothpick in that baby.
  • Make enough portions so each guest can have two or three. (15 guests = 45 mini sandwiches)
  • Place them on a tray so guests can grab the finger food at their own avail.
  • Do the same thing with the stuffing, green beans and pie by placing the portions on tiny plates and leaving them on the sidelines for all to grab – buffet style!

This approach is easy and much less expensive than having a full-on dinner for that many people.


On The Cheap:  It’s OK to be a little unorthodox because you’re creating a new tradition with new friends. This can work for a big or small group.

  • Pop on over to your favorite fried chicken  joint or Boston Market and grab a family sized meal deal to go.
  • Go over to your favorite deli and get a few turkey subs and cut them into quarters.
  • Order a few pizza pies.
  • Get some big bags of chips, packs of cookies, boxed wine, and Netflix your favorite holiday movies.

Bing. Bam. Boom. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, not five course meals or slow roasted turkeys.
[Image Via. Elnur /Elena Talberg /Lucky Business / ShutterStock]

Emerald is an editor at CollegeCandy, lover of coffee, and pretend francophile. After studying writing and popular culture at NYU she decided to be a grownup and get a job. Tweet at ya’ girl @EmeraldGritty.

Emerald is an editor at CollegeCandy, lover of coffee, and pretend francophile. After studying writing and popular culture at NYU she decided to be a grownup and get a job. Tweet at ya' girl @EmeraldGritty.