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If you’ve ever been to a Friendsgiving, you likely had a great time. Great food. Great adult beverages. Great people. Lots of laughs. And maybe it was so much fun, you decided to host your own this year. But, here’s the thing: Friendsgiving has become an “event,” and you and your guests are likely to get invited to a couple of these things.

The last thing you want to do is contribute to the white noise. Even the most ardent turkey fiend will grow wary of attending another tired, played out faux-Thanksgiving feast. So, what do you do? Well, you make yours stand out in some way. Below, a few ideas.

Be Charitable

How do you show gratitude? Consider arranging an outing to your nearest food pantry, soup kitchen, religious organization, or animal shelter. Still want a meal? Ask your friends to make triple batches of everything, and donate the leftovers to a local soup kitchen or food pantry. (Side note: Touch base with them first to learn about any restrictions they have about accepting food).

Related Reading: The Best Charitable Food Brands in 2019

Make ahead Thanksgiving recipes (what you can make ahead for Friendsgiving and freeze)


Go Green

If you don’t have much in the way of tabletop decor and you’re environmentally conscious, host a more eco-friendly event. You can send invites via Evite or Paperless Post that call attention to your exclusive use of reusable straws, eco-plates, compostable cutlery, and plant-based wine cups.

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Related Reading: How to Host an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

Try Wine Pairings

Let’s face it: people love wine. With that in mind, separate your Friendsgiving from all the rest by including your menu and your course-by-course wine pairings on your invite. Turkey is incredibly versatile and can accommodate a spectrum of whites and reds. And the wide range of side dishes come with a lot of interesting possibilities. For some solid ideas on what to serve, check this Thansgiving wine pairings pin out, or see our Five Friendsgiving-Approved Wines Under $20:

Make It a Costume Party

Halloween wasn’t that long ago. Asks guests to show up as their favorite Thanksgiving movie character. Or select a time period and have people come in formal attire from that era. Maybe you could have them come dressed as their favorite Thanksgiving food—or even favorite “Friends.” You know what, you know your friends best. What would they be into?

If You’re On A Budget

One word: potluck. Or if you want to make the dinner yourself, instead of turkey, try fried or rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. Then, scale down your side offerings to the basics: mashed potatoes, Stove Top stuffing, and green bean casserole. Maybe a can of cranberry sauce.

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Related Reading: The Best Potluck Gear to Transport Your Food in One Piece

Eat Out

If you live in a 600 square foot apartment like I once did, consider hosting your meal elsewhere. If it’s warm where you are, think about a picnic. Also know many restaurants offer their own turkey dinners for all the other people who don’t want to cook (or don’t have the space). If your Friendsgiving isn’t on the big day, forget the turkey altogether and grab a steak, sushi, or tapas. You’ll get to eat all the traditional stuff with your family, anyway.

Thanksgiving turkey recipe

mphillips007 / E+ / Getty Images

Related Reading: 9 Amazing Thanksgiving Dinners You Don’t Have to Cook

Have Everyone Use The Same Cookbook

Pick a cookbook you love and ask every guest to take on a recipe they’ll make at home. This is good for those who don’t want to do all the cooking, but would like a little bit more control and consistency when it comes to the flavors on the table.

Hold a “Secret Gratitude” Party

Everyone is familiar with Secret Santa, right? Well, what if instead of giving gifts, guests write notes that express how much they appreciate one another. You can choose how many notes you want each guest to receive, match them up, and decide on whether you want them to read the notes aloud, or keep them to themselves. Chances are your guests will leave your party on cloud nine—even if they don’t have a drop of alcohol!

Make It a Drinksgiving

Remember your soon-after-college days when your Friendsgiving was nothing more than meeting up with your friends at a local bar the night before the official day? Resume a similar practice, but class it up by hosting people at your house, and prepare a drink menu of Thanksgiving themed cocktails, like cranberry sauce sangria:

Play Games

You can only answer the questions, “How’s work?” and “What’s going on?” so many times. Spice things up by asking people to bring their favorite board game. If you’re planning an all-day extravaganza, you can play all of them. If you’re a bit more crunched for time, you can play one round of each for an hour or two. Check out Amazon for some good games for groups.

Related Reading: Fun Friendsgiving Games, Icebreakers, and Activities

Do Apps Only

Bacon-Wrapped Squash Bites


A full Thanksgiving feast is a lot of work to prepare (not to mention the clean up). Which is why some hors-d’oeuvres only may be the way to go. My only advice as a larger-than-average man that loves to eat: Make sure you are clear about your intentions in your invitation, and host the event at a time that’s not typically reserved for a full meal. Here are some Thanksgiving appetizer recipe ideas!

For more great tips, tricks, and hacks, see our Ultimate Guide to Friendsgiving.

Related Video: Delicious Vegan Friendsgiving Cookies with CBD Oil

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Greg is a Chicago guy who likes to cook, dine, and help others navigate their food choices. Why? Because food is an integral part of our lives, and he's the best version of himself when he's well fed. When he's not writing for Chowhound, he's writing about handling the domestic responsibilities of a husband and stay-at-home parent for his new online community. Visit
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