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thanksgiving pie, a candle and dry yellow leaves

Fun-Packed Thanksgiving on a Budget

Are you staying on campus over Thanksgiving break? Whatever the reason, you don’t have to feel like a misfit – just throw your own fun-packed “friendsgiving” party and invite everyone else who’s not going home for the weekend. If money is an issue, you should know that having a bigger budget does not mean having more fun! In fact, the low-budget DIY atmosphere of it all might bring you closer together. If you’re sneering, remember that this holiday is about being grateful for what you have.

Invite Everyone You Know – and Don’t Know

If all the people you regularly hang out with are away, turn to social media! Use the Facebook group for your campus to find others who are staying at school for the holiday, and message them to see if they’re down to spend the evening with other “orphans”. Use that number to approximate how many people are coming, and, hey, maybe you can get away with hosting this thing at your dorm room.

What’s Your Budget?

If it turns out that more people are interested than you think you can accommodate, consider asking them for some money – not literally charging at the door, but a small donation, whatever they can, to help out with the cost of food and refreshments.

Add that to the money you’re putting up yourself, and you have your budget! Here’s how you should distribute the money: 70% on food, drinks and all the paraphernalia like cups, paper plates and utensils. The rest is for entertainment purposes.

Decide on the Menu

What’s Thanksgiving without stuffing your face? If you have access to a proper kitchen, you’re in luck and can plan to cook all the Thanksgiving staples you’re used to having at home – mashed potatoes, turkey with cranberry sauce, and all the rest. Contact the other “orphans”, and see if they’d be able to volunteer to help you cook the food.

If you don’t have the resources to cook your own food, make use of your local supermarket’s catering. It’s going to be more expensive than cooking your own food, but you need to eat something, right? You also have the option of only buying the essentials on your own, and making the dinner a potluck affair. If you’re going to throw a potluck, though, you might have to reconsider asking them for money in the first place – both is going to be a bit much.

If potluck is the way you’re going to go, it might also make sense to make the party BYOB. Buy some small amount of refreshments on your own and don’t forget the ice. The rest is up to your guests. If you’re planning to have turkey, you’re going to have to buy one on your own. It’s very large and will probably end up being the most expensive thing on the table, so don’t count on anyone else to bring it, unless, of course, they say they will.

Games and Activities

If you have access to a television, you’d better set it up wherever you’re having the party ahead of time. Thanksgiving’s nothing to the football fans if not a chance to watch some TV while eating traditional foods.

For those who don’t want to just sit and stare into a screen, get some games set up. The football fans might like to play a quick friendly match after they’ve watched the game. For the rest, think of something you can do sitting down, since, if everything’s gone according to plan, everyone will be too stuffed to move anyway. If your first thought is ‘board games’, reconsider. Board games are wholesome fun for the whole family, sure, but you’re college students, for goodness’ sakes! Choose your favorite drinking game, and leave Scrabble for the kids.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

After all this planning and budgeting and preparing, you should let yourself relax. Don’t designate yourself the role of being the one to tell everyone to use coasters. Let go and have some fun yourself. Make some friends, make some jokes, do something embarrassing you’re going to remember with horror for the next five years, and then remember fondly as a part of your college life.