By Samantha Cole
So you're attending your very first Friendsgiving -- or your 581st one, and are burned out on bringing the same mac and cheese dish every year. The time-honored tradition of spending as much time as possible eating comfort food while surrounded by your friends, in preparation of the real thing: Spending a full day of forced interaction with your mildly racist uncle and cousins who believe weed is the devil's plant.
For this important event, don't cop out with a bottle of wine or that potato salad everyone knows came from Trader Joe's. Bring one of these much-needed but often-overlooked items to Thanksgiving dinner with your chosen friend-family, and be the hero they need.
If you own a roomy vehicle and can get your hands on some space lawn chairs, your own dining room chairs, or your neighbor's porch couch on loan, do so. As long as you have the go-ahead from the host, the surplus seating will probably be appreciated once everyone's crowding in. But be ready to clear it out at the end of the night, or at the first sign of a dance party starting.
Extra blankets or pillows
No, not for post-turkey nap time (although that's an option). If you can't imagine lugging a set of dining room chairs to the party, offering to bring a quilt or cushions could solve a serious space problem. Many cultures cozy up on the floor picnic-style for meals or social gathering. It's a way to break the ice and keeps people from congregating in the kitchen, searching for surface area to put down a drink while they pick up a fork.
Your hosts might be too busy planning and cooking and cleaning and managing invitations to take on the task of music, but once you're all in the room with the sound of your own chewing, you'll wish someone had thought ahead. Loaning a wireless speaker to the occasion is a level-up from last-minute attempts at getting someone's laptop speakers to play at a decent volume.
The music itself
Leave your guitar at home -- seriously, do not be that guy -- and plan ahead with a crowd-pleasing Friendsgiving playlist, instead. Bonus points if you organize a collaborative playlist and invite guests to add their own bangers. For inspiration, check out our latest Fresh Playlist.
A bouquet of fresh flowers
The food is the star of the show, but if there are three too many casseroles to go around and everyone's claimed up all of the booze-bringing duties, showing up with a bouquet of fresh flowers is a classy way to contribute. It'll also leave a nice pick-me-up for the host, who's gonna have a million dishes to do in the morning.
Plates, forks, bowls, etc.
If it's a small party, making it BYO-Tableware is an easy way to avoid killing our already compromised environment any more with paper plates. If you and your roommates happen to have way too many pieces of silverware, plates, and cereal bowls to count, bring them along -- or offer to stop by a thrift store on your way and pick up an eclectic mix of table settings pre-party. Wash, dry, and re-donate them the next day; think of it as rental for tableware.
Food storage stuff
If you have an overflowing cabinet of storage containers, extra takeout boxes, and plastic bowls from too many thai curry takeout nights. Load these into a bag and bring them to the gathering to stash extra food at the end of the night. Leftovers, after all, are the whole point of Thanksgiving dinner.