Sometimes it really sucks to be away from your family on big holidays. You start thinking about all the traditions you’re missing out on: Dad carving the bird, your siblings and cousins playing pick-up football in the backyard, you and Mom getting up at 5 a.m. for an epic cooking fest that ends with a 5 p.m. nap. Whatever the reason you can’t make it home this year, we feel you. It can be lonesome.
But think about what you’re not missing: your grandma talking about her swollen foot, your aunt asking when you’re going to find someone special and settle down already, your uncle farting and blaming it on the dog. Whatever cringe-worthy behavior your tribe exhibits — and trust us, everyone’s family is crazy in their own special way — you’ve somehow gotten a free pass to skip the show. Why not spend the day with your fellow marooned buddies instead?
Friendsgiving is the perfect solitude solution. You get to pick who you invite, so you actually like all of your guests. Plus, you get to pick when they leave. Though it isn’t a new idea, Friendsgiving is trending with verve. A survey conducted last year by the Skout app found that 11 percent of Millennials were celebrating Friendsgiving, and nearly 20 percent of the 30 to 39 age demographic were chilling with pals for the holiday.
Bonus: no one’s going to tell you what to serve. The world is your oyster. Luckily, Charleston’s a pretty big oyster. If you don’t want to heat up an already-full house of guests with a hot oven and steaming pots, you’ve got lots of to-go options from area restaurants. You can go balls out and pay for a whole package like the Gobble Gobble from Hamby Catering in West Ashley, which includes a 10- to 14-pound turkey and enough macaroni & cheese, sweet potato soufflé, green beans almandine, corn bread dressing, and giblet gravy to feed eight people. It’s one-stop shopping, but it’ll set you back $147 — and that’s one of the most conservative prices we found for a large holiday order.
If that’s chump change to you, then by all means proceed, Daddy Warbucks. If you’re on the poor side, though, a potluck’s the only way to fly. But here’s a teensy twist to try out this year: instead of everyone bringing a dish that they either made or bought and lied about, how about everybody brings one dish from a different restaurant? It’s a great way to sample lots of the city’s eateries without breaking the bank.
A good place to start is newcomer Mercantile and Mash. In addition to free-range turkeys anointed with chestnut glaze or autumn spice rub ($75), they’re offering an array of refreshingly different sides like roasted parsnips with cauliflower, almonds, and parmesan cream, and cornbread stuffing with rabbit sausage and apple ($15 each). Or head to gourmet grocery darling Caviar and Bananas where you’ll find smoky Wisconsin ham with bourbon-maple glaze ($10.99/pound). Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ’s pulled turkey au jus is a mesquite take on an old bird ($13.95/pound), and they’re featuring all of their other menu items for pre-order as well. There’s never enough ‘que, so have another pal head over to Swig and Swine for a whole pork butt ($32) or a side of beans with brisket ($25 for a half-pan).
The Glass Onion returns this year with a Southern-inspired to-go menu featuring items like deviled eggs (75 cents apiece) and chicken and sausage gumbo ($20 for a quart). For some true soul food, check out Martha Lou’s downtown. You don’t have to order ahead; they’ll be open the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and can package up some of the sides du jour for your future dining pleasure (prices and selection vary). Ted’s Butcherblock’s extensive Thanksgiving menu includes items like pirlou ($12/pound) and duck sausage dressing ($13/pound), plus a roast corn pudding with white cheddar ($12/pound) that’ll curl toes. Ditch the canned cranberry log — in addition to other holiday fare, The Co-op at Sullivan’s Island has homemade sauce ($11).
Pies. You need lots of them. When in doubt, get more pie. Send an emissary to Dixie Supply Bakery and Café for a bacon-bourbon pecan pie ($TK). Dispatch another to Kaminsky’s to grab a raspberry-lemon ($25). Two Boroughs Larder’s oatmeal brown sugar pie should round things out quite nicely ($TK). But you should probably pick up a Dutch apple from Butcher and Bee ($24) just in case.
Having spread your legion across the land in search of food wizardry, you can turn your attention to Friendsgiving Day activities. One of the best things about not being with your fam over the holiday is that you can get down-right shnockered if you want to, no disapproving glances from your mother involved.
Drinking games, anyone? If you’re older than 24, this’ll probably be a nostalgic experience for you. If you’re an undergrad, you probably do this every night anyway. So, spruce things up holiday-wise by grabbing some pumpkin beer or hard apple cider as your pickling agent, or take shots of Wild Turkey — not too many, though. You want to keep down all that divine food you’ve just inhaled. Plus, walks of shame on Black Friday have been known to scar some people for life … we’re told.
If you need Thanksgiving debauchery inspiration, we got you. Here’s an old stand-by: drink every time someone says something ridiculously uncreative, gems like: “OK, now let’s everyone go around the table and say what we’re thankful for,” or “This turkey is so moist,” or “Do you really think so? I was worried it was a little dry.” Any sentence involving the words “pilgrims,” “bountiful,” or “cornucopia” are also fair game. Lastly, if someone actually says “Gobble gobble!” in your presence, that person must finish their drink and then be silent for the next 15 minutes so they can think about what they’ve done.
Of course, you don’t have to be a lush to throw down on Friendsgiving. Maybe you’re bringing in friends from different cliques, people who previously didn’t know one another. In that case and any other, turn to the king of all get-to-know-you games, Cards Against Humanity — it’s available as a free download online. If you’ve never played it before, it’s kind of like that other comparison-based board game Apples to Apples — but way more inappropriate. Making a full set from home-printing will take about an hour and you’ll have to pay for the paper or card stock to print them on, but what the hell? It’s Turkey Day, big spender. Download the PDF atcardsagainsthumanity.com. (Alternatively, you can just buy the damn game for $25. Plus, there’s always charades and Pictionary free for the taking.) Afterwards, if at least one of you stays sober, you can all pile into the car and drive around looking for people who’ve already fully decked out their lawns for Christmas. Bring eggs and toilet paper.
If all else fails, just order Chinese food and play Twister till things get weird. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.