Ask your friends which holiday has the most memorable food traditions, and chances are that Thanksgiving will rise to the top of the list. Chat a little longer, and you’ll begin to realize that it’s the perfect holiday to celebrate with your closest comrades. On a day filled with gratitude, lively conversation and dishes for every palate, it feels right to be surrounded by friends old and new.
Whether you celebrate Friendsgiving days before a family Thanksgiving dinner or instead of one, this modern tradition is a spirited way to kick off the season. Get your planning started with these Friendsgiving ideas.
Schedule a convenient date
Scheduling your event before Thanksgiving generally works best. Not only will your friends be excited for the first festivity of the season, but they may also already be in town for the holiday. Find out when everyone will still be in the area and pick a date accordingly. The weekend before Thanksgiving is one of the best times for your celebration, but you can even consider a mid-week meal if everyone’s schedule is already packed.
Make the turkey or main dish if you’re hosting
Since Friendsgiving generally is held before Thanksgiving, no one will be tired of turkey just yet. If you’re the one who is playing host, plan to make one. While the rest of the dishes typically arrive potluck style, no one wants to be responsible for transporting a turkey in their car or – even more perilously – on public transportation. As the host, it’s gracious to prepare the turkey or another main dish of your choosing, such as butternut squash lasagna or roast beef. Setting a gorgeous bird or other homemade dish on the table ensures that there will be plenty of food to go around. As guests arrive, the table will fill up even more.
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Ask friends to sign up for a potluck-style feast
While there are no rules for Friendsgiving, guests might be disappointed if there are ten versions of sweet potato pie but no stuffing on the table. Rather than assigning a specific dish to each person, distribute a spreadsheet via Google Docs or another file sharing service listing major categories such as appetizers, vegetable side dishes, grain side dishes and desserts. This allows your friends to see the gaps in the feast and specify the dishes they plan to bring to round out the meal.
Prepare the bar area and include non-alcoholic options
Whether you opt to serve bottles of wine or cocktails, also make sure to include non-alcoholic options for guests who prefer not to imbibe. Planning a mocktail that includes holiday flavors such as apple, cinnamon and cranberry ensures that everyone has a tasty drink in hand. Designate a corner of the dining room or a section of kitchen counter as the bar area, and stock it with ice, glasses and bottle openers. You might even ask guests to bring a wine or spirit that pairs well with their potluck dish.
Create a playlist
With the right tunes playing, your guests will fall into the holiday spirit in no time, plus every party needs a playlist. Since you don’t have to worry about picking music everyone in your family will enjoy, creating one for Friendsgiving is easier. Consider the preferences of your friends when choosing songs that will carry you from appetizers to dessert, plus lounging and chatting through the evening. Make sure to mix up genres and include enough variety to prevent your background music from becoming monotonous.
Express gratitude in creative ways
While you certainly could go around the table and ask everyone to share what they’re grateful for, it’s possible to capture the spirit of the holiday in more creative ways. Set out colorful calligraphy pens and allow friends to write their thoughts on a craft paper table runner or tablecloth. Alternately, you could ask them to share their wishes for the upcoming year. This kind of activity allows people to opt in or out as they feel comfortable.
Let your friends’ talents shine
There is no better time than Friendsgiving to let your loved ones know how much you appreciate their talents. If you have a friend who makes floral arrangements that would make anyone on Instagram swoon, ask him if he would like to create centerpieces. Your friend who just took an online course in calligraphy might be the perfect person to create place cards for the table and may even have other Friendsgiving ideas to incorporate hand lettering. Wherever your guests’ strengths lie, think of ways to incorporate their talents in the holiday.
With friends seated around the table, Thanksgiving transforms into a celebration of gratitude and a relaxed way to usher in the holiday season. Incorporate some of these Friendsgiving ideas or use them as inspiration for your own creative spin on this popular gathering.
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