The season of giving is here! While November brings the smell of toasted marshmallows over campfires and pumpkin spice scented candles and recipes, this month also gathers friends and families for a Thanksgiving feast. November is the season of friendsgiving, or a social gathering held among college friends just before the week-long Thanksgiving break. Of course, friendsgiving can also take place between young adults in the workforce, who may not be able to make it home for Thanksgiving.
Photo: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash
As an event planner, the holiday season is a time of excitement and joy, because it allows me to delve into planning magical events such as friendsgiving or Christmas parties. In college, friendsgiving allows us to cherish the time we have together with our friends and reflect on the fall semester. Whether you are the host or a guest, here are some tips for planning the perfect friendsgiving.
Set a date and time
It is important to choose a date and time that works best for you, all co-hosts, and guests. If you are hosting in November, be sure to check the school calendar and steer clear of any important exam and campus event dates. I recommend planning friendsgiving as one of the last weekend get togethers before everyone departs for Thanksgiving break. It is best to choose a time frame that will fit with everyone’s schedules, such as the evening or late lunch.
Choose a location
Selecting a location for friendsgiving can be daunting, especially if you are looking to host a more formal affair. Venue costs can be expensive, and budget and formality should factor into the location decision. I recommend inviting guests to the common area of your dorm room building or your off-campus apartment if it is an informal, casual gathering. The beauty of having it on campus or at your apartment is the familiarity, accessibility, and proximity for the guests.
Send out invitations
No matter how formal your friendsgiving, I highly recommend capping your attendance count by creating a guest list and sending invitations. The invitations do not have to be formally addressed and mailed, by any means! It is best to use Facebook invites or digital invitations for a casual friendsgiving. When my friends organized friendsgiving in college, for example, they created a Facebook event page and invited their guests to it. Digital invitations are not only informal, fast, and efficient, but they are also a way to minimize unnecessary costs.
Select a menu
I think designing a menu and arranging a food and dessert spread are the most fun aspects of any event. With friendsgiving, I suggest creating a seasonal menu that accounts for all dietary needs and preferences. If you are hosting, try taking the load off of your shoulders by opting for a potluck-style friendsgiving so everyone contributes to the meal. The simpler the menu, the easier the preparation; for instance, try foregoing the massive turkey and substituting it with a couple of rotisserie chickens from the store. If food budget is the biggest concern, I would recommend asking guests to pay for their share of the meal.
Organize interactive icebreakers and games
If all your guests are close friends and fall within the same friendship circle, conversation will come naturally. For guests who do not know each other, it is always fun to organize small and interactive icebreakers to initiate conversations and provide entertainment. To get in the giving spirit, try focusing your icebreaker on giving thanks and reflecting on the highs and lows of the fall semester. My favorite is having everyone sit in a circle and share one good highlight and low point of the semester as well as what everyone is thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Of course, aside from these five tips for a perfect friendsgiving, don’t forget to add some of your own flair by decorating your space. Be sure to include some festive fall décor and pieces to create a space that feels warm and cozy. After all, friendsgiving is a way to have fun with those who are home away from home. Being after the midterms and before the “official” holiday season, friendsgiving creates special moments with our friends and time to spread gratitude.
Sara Kim graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a double minor in Health Policy and Management and Asian American Studies from Ithaca College. She currently works as an Event Coordinator at a non-profit. In her free time, she enjoys working out, reading, watching movies, and cooking. Fun fact: as a foodie, she loves to try new foods and travel to new places.