Friendsgiving ~ popularized by Friends with their always funny Thanksgiving episodes (listed here) is a lighter, often less tradition-driven Thanksgiving celebration with, of course, your “family” of friends. Whether you can’t make the trip home this year, you’re just avoiding the fam all together, or you want to celebrate with friends before you depart, FRIENDSGIVING is less than two weeks away.
Don’t panic. The best part about Friendsgiving is that there really aren’t any rules. We’ve got you covered with some high-style, low-stress ideas and tips… and where to buy them both locally and online. And if the very idea of cooking anything for a large group intimidates you, you can always go pot-luck, assigning one item to each guest. Or you can pack up the decorations and head as a group to any one of our picks for Where to Have Thanksgiving if You Don’t Want To Cook!(including take out options).
Remember ~ simple and relaxed trumps fancy and stuffed every time… just ask the turkey.
#1 Take Inventory First
Take stock of what you already have, sometimes the silverware, cutlery and crockery only get used once-a-year and you forget what you have. It’s also nice to add one new holiday dinner element each year to your “Thanksgiving box” and build up a nice selection over the years.
#2 Check Your Flow
Think about how you want your Friendsgiving to flow. It’s often helpful to walk-thru each detail of your guests’ arrival through to their departure. Start outside, where will your guests park/arrive? Helen Apple of Spark by Design suggests “If parking is tight, make sure your guests know ahead of time of any special instructions. Give your neighbors a heads-up of additional cars in your ‘hood and consider extending an invitation to them to stop by!”
Once inside do you have somewhere for friends to put their coat or take off their shoes if required? Apple suggests “Place a fun fall basket on an entry table for purses and keys.”
Also, make sure your pets know if they’re part of the welcoming committee or plan to keep them corralled with a special treat.
#3 Preflight Prep
Once inside it’ll be drinks and apps — one of the easiest and least stressy points of the evening; there are plenty of bite-sized snacks you can plan in advance, that hold well or actually do better at room temperature, or throw a few frozen delights into the oven that you can pop out as needed.
Consider making a batch of drinks so friends can easily serve themselves, with some champagne on standby. Apple recommends “A punch bowl of an autumn-themed cocktail; try a blend of bourbon, muddled ginger and nutmeg with a sprig of mint to set the tone! Add a charm or chalkboard labels for easy ID of glasses. Colder weather = colds so protect yourselves from drinking out of someone else’s bevvie!”
What will really make an impact here is the glassware and serving pieces. And put some frivolity into the event with fun napkins – which also act as a great icebreaker if everyone doesn’t know each other. Our local and etsy picks are below ~ whether you go for full on traditional glam or cheeky humor, we’ve got you covered.
Planning a casual, maybe even an autumn outdoors event?
#4 The Main Event
Encourage folks to sit where they want. But, if you do want to have a seating arrangement event planner Apple suggests “Writing guest names with metallic sharpies on fall leaves, pine cones, or mini gourds as a fun way to inspire guests to interact.”
Going for a Dressed Up, Grown Up All Out Tradtional Dinner? You can find beautiful linens at Bedside Manor and acquire an entire crystal or silver stemware collection at Classic Attic.
Think about where you want to serve the food (from the dining area or from the kitchen) and make sure there are not any areas that friends will get clogged – think ice and beverage station separate from food distribution to avoid any traffic jams.
Make sure your centerpiece anchors the table but doesn’t distract from the food or the conversation. The unexpected works well here; it’s easy to tie in a funky piece while including some neutrals to balance it all out.
#5 Have Fun
Whether it’s a true Friendsgiving for those that have become family – or you’re with your blood relatives, it’s about being together and sharing a great meal. Make sure you have some good tunes playing – checkout these options from Pandora, and have some to-go food storage on-hand to send friends home with some of your fine fare. And, speaking of fare — Apple reminds Friendsgiving hosts “If your guests are filled with a bit more holiday cheer, make sure you have apps like Uber, Lyft or YellowCab for your pals to have a safe ride home.”