Oh, hell yeah. What you have ahead is a four-day weekend in your own city. You’re not traveling. You’re not dealing with family. And you get to enjoy one of America’s greatest holidays with your friends instead.

You’re in for something a lot drunker and a lot more fun, with the added bonus of no racist great aunts or backwoods second cousins who mainline Fox News and dream of change coming to this country in the person of a total clown with a bad toupee. No, this year your Thanksgiving is a Friendsgiving, which requires less planning and way less stress, but still a little of the former. Even at this late date, you can still throw a rad, festive party together. So let’s do that.

Who’s hosting?

Figure this out first, of course. That may be you, my friend! The laws of etiquette rule that the host usually does the turkey and the gravy and whatever else he or she deems necessary. Guests bring sides. (For a thorough rundown on Thanksgiving cooking, I turn your attention to Foodspin’s excellent guide.) Send out an email to your guests sometime before the big day to your guests—today would be good, hahaha—and assuming you’re the host in this scenario, announce what you’ll be cooking and what dishes you need guests to bring. If some people don’t know what to bring, you can almost always say ice. And wine. And sure, how about some more pie?

No, seriously: What are we eating?

No Thanksgiving feast is complete without the following:

  • Turkey
  • Gravy, brown and/or cream
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Stuffing, which in some regions is referred to as “dressing”
  • Cranberry sauce, which can come from a can
  • Green beans, which should ideally be in casserole form
  • Greens, which may be salad or brussels sprouts or both
  • Rolls, rolls, rolls
  • Appetizers
  • Ambrosia
  • Carrots in some form
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Wine, wine, wine

Depending on your wild opinions about Thanksgiving fare, you may have some other ideas about what belongs on that list. But think of that as a general outline. Just don’t fuck up the pie, or the wine.

When are we eating?

There are two very important times you need to determine: what time doors open, and what time the show starts. That way you and your fellow Friendsgiving parishioners know when they can arrive, and when they really need to arrive. Tell your one shithead friend who’s always late that you’ll be eating at least half an hour before you actually want to.

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Potlucks are fun because everyone gets to participate and feel like they’re pulling their weight in some way. Even if they’re just grabbing rolls from the store, it counts. And potlucks with your friends are even better because you get to see everyone’s traditional ideas of Thanksgiving dishes (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried my grandma’s sweet potatoes), and you also get to avoid your Great-Aunt Martha’s traditional Thanksgiving questions about your dating life. You don’t have to be buttoned up in any way, although you should still consider putting on a collared shirt and maybe tucking it in. The pressure’s otherwise off, though.

Thanksgiving with your pals will naturally get a little rowdier than your typical family celebration—that is, unless you’re apt to drink more responsibly, absent the pressure of dealing with all of your family, all at once. Either way, to further instill camaraderie, play some party games (I like Celebrity). I’m assuming not everyone will be best friends: Someone’s going to bring a girlfriend you’ve never met, another person is going to forget they’ve met your roommate before, and someone will be a total rando. So dinner-party games are a good way to get the ball rolling. Make sure the wine keeps flowing, too. Get some of those holiday party crackers to put on your place settings. Take a moment to go around the table and say what everyone is thankful this year: You aren’t total maniacs, and there’s gotta be something. Find some time at some point to call your mother, too. She’ll appreciate it.

Thanksgiving is a great time to blow off steam before the real holiday crush starts. It’s great to get together with your family, sure, but a good meal with friends is far more than a consolation prize. Sometimes it’s more fun that way, and you don’t have to worry about who’s saying grace.

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