When “Home For The Holidays” Means Your Home: The First Friendsgiving

by Anum Yoon

When your friend group consists of a bunch of poor early 20-somethings who can’t afford to go home for Thanksgiving, the natural option is a Friendsgiving. Or at least that’s what I decided last year. It didn’t matter that I was going to host this thing in the small, one-bedroom apartment I was sharing with my roommate and our German Shepherd. Nope. I was determined to make this happen. The holidays are a time for people to come together, and I needed that sense of comfort even though I was miles away from my family.

The week before Friendsgiving, the Facebook invite showed eight people were coming, or ten once you figured in my roommate and me. Of course, I had decided I would cook everything myself for our first Friendsgiving, even though I’m the queen of pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’d never cooked a turkey or made stuffing in my life, but I figured it was nothing the Internet couldn’t teach me how to do.

The roommate and I bought a big turkey, found some delicious-sounding recipes, and started getting ready the night before our Friendsgiving day.

Then the power started flickering.

We checked the news on our phones and it said there were widespread power outages across the whole state. Perfect. This meant another trip to the store was needed, this time for power outage prep. We stocked up on candles and bottled water — and a couple bottles of wine for good measure.

By about two in the morning, we put the prepared dishes in the fridge, ready to be cooked the next day. We salvaged a few hours of sleep before waking up to prepare the meal before the afternoon. We chose to host our Friendsgiving event around lunchtime, so our friends who had actual Thanksgivings in the area could attend ours first.

The cooking was going great that morning. The stuffing was in the oven, our cranberry sauce was on the stove, and the potatoes were being peeled. It was going surprisingly smooth. Hey, maybe this Friendsgiving thing isn’t so hard after all. Cooking is easy!

I took a quick bathroom break and came back into the kitchen to see my roommate standing in front of the open freezer, staring at the turkey that was still nestled in there. Dinner was in a few hours and our turkey was still frozen. We looked at each other in a panic, considering we spent basically all of our extra money on this dinner. We definitely didn’t have the money for another turkey, nor did we have time to find a cooked one.

We had no idea what to do. We considered texting everyone and asking them to bring their own meat, but we realized most stores would be closed on Thanksgiving. We were freaking out, yelling at each other while furiously googling to see what might be open. We found one local grocery store that was open near our friend Chris’ place. We called him, offering favors and saying we’d pay him back later if he showed up with something to feed our guests in place of turkey.

Chris arrived 45 minutes later with five rotisserie chickens. Honestly, that’s a lot better than what we expected.

Luckily, our side dishes turned out well. More people started showing up, and we whipped out some card tables and plastic tablecloths. The chairs were mismatched and we were drinking out of Solo cups, but we were together. The hours were spent telling old stories and jokes. There were no drunken uncles or unruly younger cousins.

The stress from the preparation melted away, and we started making plans for the next Friendsgiving: one where but I’ll ask everyone to bring a side dish, instead of cooking everything myself again. And who knows? Maybe we’ll even try a Friendsmas too.

Here’s what the whole affair cost me:

$35–5 too-greasy rotisserie chickens, purchased at Chris’ local grocery store

*Chris thankfully said he wouldn’t take money for the chickens because of all our trouble

$24–4 bottles of Purple Moon, purchased at Trader Joes

$24–12 lbs of “All Natural, Brined, Fresh Young” Turkey, purchased at Trader Joe’s

$68 — Everything else we needed food-wise, purchased at Wal-Mart

$14 — Plastic cups, Plastic cutlery, and plastic table cloths, purchased at Wal-Mart

$20 — Candles and bottled water for the power outage that never happened, purchased at Wal-Mart

TOTAL: $185

In case you’re wondering about the frozen turkey, we ended up cooking it the next day. It was delicious.

Anum Yoon is a blogger who usually writes about money.

This story is part of our Holidays 2015 series.

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