Written by Anya Caro | Photo by Trevor Meyer

Let’s face it, some of us can’t go home for the holidays to be with our families. Instead of eating a sad bowl of chicken ramen and calling it a holiday dinner, invite your friends over and host a college style “Friendsgiving.” Not only will it bring high holiday cuisine to your living space, but it will bring together everyone for a cozy homestyle get-together. Here are a few tips on how to host a successful dinner:
CouponingGet your coupons ready! Use them to buy everything you need at a much cheaper price. You’ll save tons of cash while being able to bargain shop for all your necessary ingredients. Double-check your cabinets before heading to the store to avoid the panic of realizing you are missing ingredients the night of. Staying organized will help the dinner go smoothly and help you save money.
No Such Thing as Being Too Prepared
There’s so much to be done for Thanksgiving, so don’t limit yourself to doing it all on Thanksgiving day. Start prepping food the day before. If you have really complicated or detailed recipes, prepare them the day before so the actual cooking or recooking is done on the big day. Grab a few decor items at the Dollar Tree in advance and don’t forget to think of some vegetarian, vegan or allergy friendly recipes so no one is left out. Everyone should be able to enjoy all the feastivities.
Don’t Stress
This should be fun! Don’t stress yourself out over preparations. It’s a group activity, so everyone can bring something or help. Also, if need be you can always run to the store for a pre-prepared meal item. Rotisserie chickens are easy and delicious replacements for a whole turkey. Use disposable dishes for eating and cooking, for less mess, which means less stress. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so neither do you.
DIY Aroma
Nothing is better than the sweet scent of fall. Instead of burning candles and creating a fire hazard or disaster, use this recipe to create a warm (and cheap!) aroma that will put everyone in a good mood: gather 1 peeled orange and 2 cinnamon sticks, boil them together, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes and add more water if needed. I recommend simmering for an hour so the smell can last throughout the evening.

Dessert Recipe | Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 17.5oz package of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 stick of butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • Sugar, for coating
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet by greasing or lining with parchment paper/silicone mat.  Place some granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine cookie mix and pumpkin pie spice.  Add butter, pumpkin puree and egg; stir with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.  
  • Drop dough by rounded teaspoon into bowl of granulated sugar, coat with sugar and place on baking sheet.  (Flattening the dough into discs is recommended, but not necessary).  Because of the decreased butter content, cookies will not spread much during baking; dough can be placed about 1 inch apart on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7-11 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.  I hope you enjoy!

Side Dish Recipe | Mashed Potatoes Bites

What’s better than heaping bowls of mashed potatoes? Cute little bites of them! Everyone will love these cute snack-sized mashed potato bites. It’ll leave few leftovers and be easy to eat, leaving room for everything else.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or cream cheese
  • Toppings:
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1/4 cup diced cooked bacon
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 400°F .
  • In a large bowl mix together the mashed potatoes, eggs, parmesan cheese, and sour cream. Season, if necessary, with salt and pepper. The seasoning will depend on how seasoned your mashed potatoes originally.
  • Mound a spoonful of the mixture in each muffin cup. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the potato start to get browned on top. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then gently release remove from the pan with spatula and plate.
  • Top with cheese, bacon, hot sauce and chives.