In light of the current political climate, your friends could probably use a little cheering up. While we all eagerly await the upcoming four-day weekend when we get to go home to our families and pig out on turkey and forget about the state of the world, there's no reason we can't replicate the momentary bliss that is Thanksgiving a few days early. Enter Friendsgiving: the much-loved holiday spin where you get to extend Turkey Day just a little longer and celebrate with your other family—your friends.
How do you host a successful Friendsgiving? It starts with a great group of friends, of course, followed by delicious food, tasty wine, board games, and a friendly atmosphere. All you really are friends and food, but if you want to make it the best Friendsgiving ever, follow these tips to make it extra easy and extra cheerful. If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving-inspired meal with friends, here’s how to have friends talk about it years from now.
With a big-deal holiday like Thanksgiving, you may be ambitious and want to invite all your friends, but don’t invite too many people. All your guests should be able to sit down at a table and enjoy the meal. If your table fits eight people, then invite eight people. If you can rearrange your living room and rent a table that seats 14 people, invite 14 people. Your friends may ask if they can bring someone, so take that into consideration when coming up with the guest list.
Make It a Potluck
If you’re hosting Friendsgiving, you are in charge of making the turkey. This also means that you make the gravy, as you can’t have one without the other. To make your life easier, make the rest of the meal a potluck. Assign friends different dishes. Play into their special dietary needs. Ask the vegan friend to bring a vegan entrée like stuffed acorn squash. Is one of your friends into baking? Ask her to bring a couple of pies. If you want, give the potluck a theme—like Italian American or Mexican inspired—and instruct your guests to bring pumpkin lasagna rolls or chorizo stuffing. Tell your friends to bring their dish prepared and ready to serve in a pretty bowl or on a decorative platter. No one should be in the kitchen making béchamel for macaroni and cheese during the party. Find out what needs to be heated in the oven, and make a cooking chart to know which dish goes in at what time.
Assess the Situation
Take inventory of your kitchen. Count your plates. Do you have enough for each of your guests? What about silverware? Everyone will need a complete set. Do you have enough serveware? What will you put the turkey on? How about chairs? Have a seat for each guest. If you’re lacking something, rent it or borrow it from friends.
Set the Scene
Create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Light candles, set the table, and use cloth napkins. Be creative! If you don’t have a tablecloth, cover the table with brown butcher paper, set out a pack of markers, and let your guests decorate the table. Use mason jars as vases, cut branches from your yard and mix them with grocery store flowers, and light a fire. Play jazz or Frank Sinatra.
Skip the Seating Chart
Keep it casual and let your friends sit wherever they want—especially if you have a large group coming. Don’t assign them seats; it’s one less thing for you to do. If you want to encourage mingling, place playing cards on each plate and ask people to pick a card from another deck. Then have them match their card with the ones on the table. You’ll still have a lively mix around the table without having to slave over the seating chart.
Stock Up on Booze
Know your crew and plan your bar accordingly. Alcohol can get expensive, so don’t be afraid to ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine or whiskey. Even if you don’t serve those bottles on the night of, you’ll know your bar or cellar will be replenished by night’s end. Make a specialty cocktail or punch and offer friends a glass when they arrive.
Introduce people. You don’t have to play matchmaker, but if your sister is in nursing school, be sure to introduce her to your friend’s new love interest who is a doctor. Set up a spread of uncomplicated appetizers (olives, nuts, cheese, crackers) at a table that is easy to converge around, and encourage people to mingle with one another.
Incorporate an Activity
Table bonding makes a party livelier and more fun. Spice up the evening with a game of charades, Heads Up, or Table Topics. Especially if the mood is grim or serious, this will help everyone loosen up and forget about their issues for a few hours.
Give Away Leftovers
Head to Whole Foods or your local takeout restaurant a few days before Friendsgiving to stock up on disposable plastic containers and takeout boxes. Get a variety of sizes and materials. At the end of the night, let your friends make their own doggy bag. Send them home with leftovers, and you will send them home happy.
It’s a party: It’s supposed to be fun! Go with the flow and problem-solve when any issues arise. Remember that if the hostess is enjoying herself, then the guests will also have a good time.
Updated by Gabrielle Savoie.