Friendsgiving is Thanksgiving’s chicer, less problematic cousin that guarantees you’ll only see people you actually want to see and eat food you actually want to eat. It’s a chill picnic at Lake Merritt with plenty of knit layers, a full sit-down at your apartment or a cramped cocktail party with half your guests sitting on your bed — it’s adaptable to whatever you’ve got going on. No formal invite needed: an “I’d love to have you over for a lil’ Friendsgiving on X date” text will make anyone feel loved and frankly elated.
Here are six guideposts to throwing a lovely, vibey Friendsgiving anywhere, be it a dank college dorm room or an overgrown backyard.
1. A turkeyless Friendsgiving is more than fine.
A roast duck from Yung Kee in Oakland Chinatown bought a day in advance makes a beautiful substitute — it’s more unctuous than turkey, it’s basically no work on your part and it reheats spectacularly in an oven or microwave. Bonus points if you serve it with the head and beak still on because that’s very cool of you. Any celebratory protein works here, though: a poke bowl station with spicy tuna from Tokyo Fish Market, a wokful of eggplant adobo with tofu, a platter of nachos with carnitas you bought that morning.
2. Don’t overthink the guest list.
You’re delightful, and your friends are delightful. Don’t stress about who has what in common with who. They’re adults, and they’ll figure it out. Also, there’s no such thing as too small. If you roll with four people and one of them is your cat, do your thing!
3. Punch bowls are very glam.
Some gin, seltzer, ice and honey in that cute bowl you thrifted and never use is easy and communal. You can dress it up with some sliced citrus or punchy herbs, but no absolute need. Some heated apple cider from the store — or Rainbow Orchards’ farmers market stand — with additional warming spices from your pantry is also perfect.
4. A lil’ ambience goes a very long way.
Even that half-burned candle in your bathroom and a handful of pretty plant stems from a walk around your neighborhood will make any table setting feel vibier. Lay some sprigs on the table for added organic dimension. If you have the budget, you can pick up some hand-dipped, flower-pressed (and not-already-in-your-bathroom) beeswax candles from Oakland artist Seraphina Perkins or a gorgeous paper lantern from Murasaki in Oakland. And a tablecloth — a vintage one from Berkeley’s Lacis Museum or even just a bed sheet — will do some heavy lifting with minimal effort.