Friendsgiving: How to Celebrate Thanksgiving on Campus

a girl cutting turkey

Thanksgiving is traditionally a family holiday that people spend with their loved and close ones. However, while you are away from your hometown, studying at college often means being on campus during Thanksgiving. That’s why many students opt for Friendsgiving – a growing and spreading trend of celebrating Thanksgiving among friends. It is a bit different form of celebration, especially if you are used to home family dinner type, but it might be very fun, warm, and joyful. And with our tips, you can throw a great Friendsgiving. Keep reading to learn how.

The Nature of Friendsgiving

If you have watched a legendary TV show, “Friends,” you have probably seen the episodes where six friends celebrate Thanksgiving in the company of each other. It’s wrong to view Friendsgiving as a substitute for a “real” celebration, as it can be a really enjoyable event with lots of joyful memories being created.

Friendsgiving is now more known among young adults due to various TV shows and global events becoming a trend. Creating new traditions as the world develops is no different from being a part of this development yourself. It is a chance to have a real holiday when you are away and enjoy the company of people who you find interesting and supportive.

Not everyone has this perfect family to celebrate classic Thanksgiving with, though. Friendsgiving is a perfect opportunity for them to have a piece of joyful occasion for themselves, catching up on things they might have missed in the past.

No matter what type of celebration you choose or are stuck with, the important is to be thankful and have peace in your heart. It is the approach that matters and the intentions – the celebration itself might not be as chic or rich as you intended it to be. In the end, you are still a college student with lots of Thanksgivings ahead. Experiment with the format and the details as it is part of growing and developing.

Planning the Potluck

Friendsgiving is commonly thrown among a group of friends, mates, or peers. As it often happens on campus and on budget, the potluck version is insanely popular. And it is no surprise. When the efforts are gathered, the results achieved can be much greater than when one person has to be responsible for every detail.

Planning a potluck means being all together, invested in the celebration, and trying your best. Even if none of you have much money to spend on a festive dinner, a potluck format can really overcome your expectations.

Potluck Difficulties

When you have a group of people involved in some type of gathering, it’s hard to make sure that everyone has equal access to information and resources. That’s why creating a shared document or a group chat can surely help you a lot in organizing and assigning. Spread the costs on everyone and make sure that each member of the celebration knows what they are responsible for, as well as that everyone has something to be added to the potluck.

Share the menu with the dishes planned, if needed. Sometimes, having a solid plan and picking from the list of set options is easier than coming up with the idea of the dish that one is going to bring. It will also help the group avoid repetitions, which is pretty awkward.

Sharing the Costs

It’s important to understand that having a great time and a great Friendsgiving doesn’t mean spending much money. If everyone brings a dish and shares the costs for drinks and snacks, you can have a great celebration for very cheap, without breaking your monthly budget.

Sharing the costs should be discussed beforehand, as well as the sum that you will be spending. In order to avoid any miscommunication and fights, create polls in a group chat to learn if everyone is okay with the planned spending.

Be sure to find out if anyone has some discounts, coupons, or store cards that can be used to buy everything needed for the festive dinner.


Even if you are not a huge fan of decorations and think that you don’t need them for the celebration, you might still be interested in the following tips on how to decorate for Friendsgiving on a budget.

You can totally use DIY decorations for the holiday to create a festive atmosphere and still avoid unnecessary costs. For example, you can use fall leaves, pumpkins, apples, and other fruits or vegetables in a basket or plate to decorate the table. You can also cut out a few paper garlands to decorate windows or walls. Creating these decorations can also be a part of celebration or preparation – a fun evening spent cutting out the décor and watching some movies with your friends. Seems pretty good.

Even if you are celebrating in a dorm room, you can add some festive lights or a nice tablecloth to add a festive atmosphere and make the whole place feel like a warm home.

Games and Activities

Surely, to have a great celebration, food and decorations are not enough. You need to spend this evening somewhat fun, and thus, you need to have some activities planned. Everyone can come up with an idea for a group to discuss and pick the most enjoyable options.

Some prefer having just a game night with video or board games, puzzles, Jenga, etc. At the same time, others might be more traditional in the way they want to celebrate the holiday. In this case, you might want to play the gratitude game or prepare a small theatrical play with roles and everything.

Volunteering is also another classical way to express your gratitude on a Thanksgiving day. Some colleges have their events planned and scheduled on a Thanksgiving day, like charity matches or various shelter visits with a group of volunteers. If you like the idea of giving back to a community, be sure to join these volunteer groups.

Capturing the Moment

Be sure to take many photos and record videos – these will become great memories. Having a Friendsgiving in college can become a truly marvelous life experience as college years come to an end really fast.

Instant cameras are awesome in this case. If one of you has such a camera, bringing it and taking photos with it, which you can share and put on your wall, will be a great idea.


Having Friendsgiving with your mates is a great way to spend holidays when you are away from home. It can become a really warm and joyful tradition of yours for your adult life, as many of us make friends in college for life. Be sure to follow our tips to throw a great celebration. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!