What to Bring to Friendsgiving When You’re Totally Broke

You don't need a ton of money to contribute something thoughtful.

By: KM


Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner with All the Sides. Homemade Roasted Turkey and all traditional dishes on Festive Thanksgiving table, top view.

Photo by: Oksana Bratanova

Oksana Bratanova

There’s nothing that says "adulting" quite like a potluck dinner. And the creme de la creme of potluck dinners? Friendsgiving. You gather all your best friends up, cram around a too-small table and enjoy the same foods you’re about to eat with your family in just a few days. But, there’s always one major revelation when it comes to Friendsgiving — Thanksgiving dinner is expensive. (Seriously, how has your mom hosted 18 people for the last 12 years?) Luckily, there’s a way to do Friendsgiving on a budget. Here are the 11 things you should bring to Friendsgiving dinner if you’re broke.

Cheese Plate



verschiedene Käsesorten (Cheddar, franz. Weichkäse, franz. Schafkäse, Camenbert aus der Normandie, Emmentaler laktosefrei, Österr. Bergkäse) und Weintrauben auf einem Holzbrett, Studio

Photo by: Roman Maerzinger

Roman Maerzinger

The cheese plate is like the Miss Congeniality of appetizers. Will it be the number one dish of the night? Probably not. But will it be the most popular? You bet your bottom dollar. Speaking of bottom dollar, while charcuterie boards can easily get expensive, hitting up Trader Joe’s for four to five items will be just enough to win everyone over. Look for one soft cheese, one hard cheese, some crackers and maybe a few grapes and you’ll have a winning board for less than $20.

Veggies and Dip



Platter of assorted fresh vegetables with dip

Photo by: Elena Elisseeva

Elena Elisseeva

All right, just hear us out on this one. Veggies and dip are undoubtedly less popular than cheese plates — but that just means you can buy less of them! Plus, everyone likes to start out with a healthy crunch before they overindulge on stuffing and pie. Pick up a bag of carrots, some celery and a premade container of dip or hummus and call it a day.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates



appetizer delicacy dates wrapped in bacon and fried

Photo by: OlgaKriger


Don’t these sound fancy? Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret: Bacon-wrapped dates require only two ingredients — bacon and dates. All you have to do is wrap a piece of uncooked bacon around said date and throw them into the oven for a seriously crowd-pleasing treat.

Deviled Eggs



Homemade Spicy Deviled Eggs with Paprika on a plate of black slate

Photo by: DariiaBelkina


If you’re looking for something that requires a bit more skill (but still very few ingredients), look no further than the classic deviled egg. A 12-pack of eggs costs less than $5 and then all you need is a few condiments and spices that you most likely already have like mayo, yellow mustard and salt and pepper.

Mac & Cheese




Photo by: TheCrimsonMonkey


Now onto the good stuff: sides. Everyone knows sides are what make Thanksgiving. Luckily, mac and cheese is always a good idea — even if it’s boxed. Throw together a fan favorite from Kraft or Annie’s and, if you’re feeling fancy, toss it in a casserole dish, top with store-bought bread crumbs and stick it in the oven for a couple of minutes. (We won’t tell if you won’t.)

Sweet Potatoes



Homemade candied yams in a baking dish cooling on a cutting board`

Photo by: MSPhotographic


Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple and a hefty side can be pulled together for less than $10. All you need is a few chopped taters, some olive oil, honey and cinnamon to toss on top, and a little bit of time in the oven. Trust us, your friends will think you slaved over these.

Roasted Carrots



Photo by: Michelle Lee Arnold

Michelle Lee Arnold

Before you panic about whipping together an elaborate dish at a premium cost, remember that roasted veggies are what Thanksgiving is all about. Buy one bag of heirloom carrots in gorgeous fall colors, toss them in EVOO, salt, and pepper, and roast them until they’re golden brown. It’ll make for a stunning plating pic for the ’gram.

Dinner Rolls



A pile of dinner rolls on a rustic wooden counter.

Photo by: Rich H Legg

Rich H Legg

That’s right, you can buy a single pack of ready-to-bake dinner rolls and still win at Friendsgiving. Arguably our favorite part of the meal, freshly baked rolls are a cheap and easy side dish to call dibs on. Just don’t forget to take the butter out of the fridge before dinner, so it’s room temp.




A high angle view looking down on a freshly baked pumpkin pie, just in time for your autumn or Thanksgiving season celebration. Small decorative gourds decorate the scene. Horizontal image with copy space.

Photo by: RyanJLane


Depending on where you go, picking up a premade pie at your local grocery store bakery can be a fairly inexpensive endeavor. (We price-checked at our local store and a 9-inch Apple Caramel Walnut Pie clocked in at just under $13.) Tell your BFF to bring ice cream and it’ll be the perfect way to end the meal.




Processed with VSCO with 6 preset

Photo by: Wanwisa Hernandez

Wanwisa Hernandez

Not a traditional Thanksgiving dessert per se, but if someone else already claimed pie, break-and-bake cookies are a great addition. Let’s be real, people always have extra room for dessert, and these will be a great pick-me-up during after-dinner games.




pouring wine into glass on wood background

Photo by: Woraphon Nusen / EyeEm

Woraphon Nusen / EyeEm

When in doubt, a bottle (or box) of wine is always a great choice. Especially if you only have time to swing a store run on your way to the party. Hit up Trader Joe’s for Two-Buck Chuck or grab a cheap box or bottle from a local store. As long as the glasses stay full, your friends won’t be picky.

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