We've all been there: you waited 'til after midterms to buy your plane ticket home and now flights are too expensive; you're not speaking to your family right now because of our political hellscape; you were supposed to go home with your boyfriend and then he dumped you, like, last week. Sooner or later, pretty much everyone experiences the feeling of being stranded for Thanksgiving.
Some people don't mind this, I guess. Thanksgiving was never a very big deal in my family, so I don't tend to care much one way or another. But it's nice to be with people, and (more importantly), it's nice to eat dank grown-up food. So, if you find yourself at this late stage without a Thanksgiving to call your own, why not throw together a small, last-minute Friendsgiving with your fellow Turkey Day orphans?
Overwhelmed by the very idea of throwing together a celebration on such short notice? Don't be! Just follow these steps.
- Make the guest list: Find out which of your friends are in town and turkey-less this Thursday, then see who would like to come—and, most importantly, what their dietary restrictions are. Ideally, you'll probably want to keep it to 6 people or less to make planning easier, but don't let me tell you how to live your life. Just make sure that the space you're using (your living room floor, your friend's mom's dining room, your girlfriend's roof, whatever) can fit everyone.
- Set the menu: Don't make things more complicated than they have to be—between the last-minute prep and whatever dietary restrictions your guests are saddled with, you've got more than enough to keep you busy without the added stress of an elaborate menu. You might want to forego the whole turkey in favor of roasting a turkey breast or chicken—you can find a recipe for that on our no-fuss Thanksgiving recipe list. A fruit and cheese plate is easy to assemble and always a hit, as long as the majority of your guests aren't lactose-intolerant. And you can always ask your friends to bring drinks, dessert, or a side dish to defray the labor.
- Stock up: Do you have enough flatware for everyone? What about cups and plates? Serving platters? This is your party: you're free to use paper plates with plastic utensils and serve food straight out of the pot. Just make sure you have everything you need so you're not panicking right before your friends arrive!
- Decorate, decorate, decorate: Give your group a nice space to eat! Whether that means spreading out a blanket on the floor and scattering pillows in a circle or setting a real, honest-to-god table, it's nice to make a meal like this one special. If you don't have a real tablecloth, you can buy a perfectly good one at the dollar store or use a large roll of brown paper. Also, buy flowers maybe? Or mini pumpkins and gourds? Don't worry about doing more than you have time for, of course, but a little bit of fancy can go a long way.
- Make things easy on yourself: If you're prepping a full table, cook as many dishes ahead of time as possible—like the day before or early on Thanksgiving morning. Buy liners for your slow cooker. (Also: if you don't have one yet, get a slow cooker. Seriously.) And when your friends arrive, tell them you expect them to help with cleaning! Insert devil emoji here.
There you have it: five easy(ish) steps to hosting the Friendsgiving of your dreams on only two days' notice! Or, you know, just find a restaurant that's still taking reservations and book a table for five. You do you, boo.