Thanksgiving is the quintessential foodie holiday, and though of course we totally prize the opportunity to eat with our families (and to cook in their neither disgusting nor tiny kitchens), it always seems a little bit sad to flee our friends just as the fine feast approaches. You can’t really ask us to stick around a deserted campus (unless we’re international students, in which case follow the guidelines for the party below, only do it on Thanksgiving day itself), which is why we figured out that this simple cocktail party, its food inspired by the holiday, is best thrown in the days preceding that fateful Thursday. A few simple bites and a big cauldron of spiked cider will turn this foodie fest into a fun college celebration.
What: Pre-Thanksgiving Cocktail Party
For: Fifteen to twenty friends, or as many will fit in your dorm room or apartment.
When: The Friday night before Thanksgiving; Sunday afternoon can be nice and relaxing as well.
What to Eat: Use harvest ingredients in Thanksgiving renditions of classic dorm-room cocktail fare. Try bowls of Craisins mixed with toasted almonds; Turkey Crostini with Salted Butter on Cranberry Bread (use sliced turkey from the deli); Savory Bread Pudding Bites; Sweet Potato Quesadillas; Baby Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Nutmeg; or Mini Baked Stuffed Mushrooms. For dessert, make a couple of Mom’s Apple Pies–or ask a guest to bring pie.
What to Drink: Mulled Apple Cider Spiked with Whisky, or your favorite seasonal brew. If in the afternoon (and for the non-drinkers), cinnamon spice tea works too!
How to Set the Scene: Pick up some mini pumpkins or gourds from your local market and set them on your coffee table and counters. A big pumpkin (perhaps leftover from Halloween?) can be dramatic too. Craisins are pretty enough to be decorations if you pile them in mugs or colorful little bowls. Make cut-out turkeys based on the outline of your hand like you did in elementary school and pin them to the door, the walls, or any bulletin boards. Clementines scattered around are kind of a sweet harvest-y touch.
Attire: Orange, obviously. Prizes go to anyone who actually appears in the guise of his favorite Thanksgiving dish.
RSVP to Small Kitchen College in the comments with your ideas for and stories from great on-campus parties!
Cara is the co-founder of Small Kitchen College and Big Girls, Small Kitchen. She loves grilled cheese above all else.