Food blogger Meagan McGinnes shares her secrets for a Friendsgiving feast that feeds a crowd on a budget.
Sometimes more is more, Grownups, and when it comes to Thanksgiving—a holiday dedicated to eating, drinking, and loved ones—why celebrate only once with family?
I think Friendsgiving is a perfect excuse to double up on your turkey, stuffing, and pie intake, as well as be a superstar among your friends. But don’t let the social or financial stress of hosting deter you from having a great party.
Here are six tips on what to eat, drink, and do to host the ultimate Friendsgiving on a realistic Grownup budget.
Friendsgiving Tip 1: Get organized
After sending your free Facebook invites, use the event as a landing page for all your Friendsgiving info, and start a thread for who’s bringing which dishes and who’s sending pictures after the event. Make sure the event is private, so unexpected/uninvited guests don’t run up your grocery bill.
Friendsgiving Tip 2: Divide and conquer
As host, I always take care of the main event: the turkey. But let your guests help with the side dishes. Use your Facebook thread, so you don’t have repeats, and—if you aren’t into a smorgasbord of side dishes—make a list of suggested items that your friends can claim. Not only will it save you money, you’ll also help your friends contribute to the party.
Have friends who aren’t culinarily inclined or can’t be trusted to bring food? Give them the option to help through a payment app instead, and suggest an amount for them to contribute. (I recommend $15 to $20.)
Friendsgiving Tip 3: Grocery shop with your friends
At some stores, spending a certain amount of money can qualify you for free or reduced price stuff—like a turkey! Plan ahead with friends and go on a group grocery shopping excursion, then combine your order to hit whatever the benchmark is. Last year, Target offered turkeys for $0.99 per lb, and offered a $10 gift card for making a $50 grocery purchase.
Coupon cutting can also be key. (Sorry, Mom, for all those years I made fun of you.) Sites like the Coupon Project, The Krazy Koupon Lady, Retail Me Not, and Groupon always feature deals; what you save can go toward other critical components like drinks and decorations.
Friendsgiving Tip 4: BYOB!
Wine with dinner is classy and cheap, especially if you buy a three-liter Bota Box (under $14) for your guests. (Put it in a nice glass pitcher, and they’ll never suspect it’s boxed.) Then let your friends cover the rest. BYOB is a great way to get a variety of beverages, but also help keep drunkenness to a minimum.
Friendsgiving Tip 5: Make a little go a long way
The simplest way to make your apartment company-ready is just to make it clean. For affordable fall flair, buy a few gourds and mini pumpkins to scatter among your house. They’re only 69 cents at Trader Joe’s. You can also fill candle votives with cranberries ($3) or popcorn ($2) as an easy and cheap way to make the space festive.
Friendsgiving Tip 6: Have fun!
Creating a fun atmosphere is the most important part of a successful Friendsgiving. Have your friends help create a playlist during dinner. Spotify makes it super easy for people to add songs, and if you have a friend that pays for the commercial-free service, link the playlist to their account to avoid pesky ads.
You can also stream TV’s best Thanksgiving episodes on your TV or laptop: Friends (“The One With All The Thanksgivings”), Gilmore Girls (“A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving”), or Seinfeld (“The Mom & Pop Store”).
Meagan McGinnes is a freelance writer with interests in New England culture, locally sourced food, the environment, fitness, and storytelling. She’s a foodie who shares her love of snacks as a senior reporter at Project NOSH—a trade publication by BevNET that covers natural, organic, healthy, or sustainable packaged food companies and products. Follow her @meaganmcginnes.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.