How to host a friendsgiving

Despite COVID-19, we can still celebrate a fun Friendsgiving this November. Take it online and throw a virtual bash!

First of all, what is “Friendsgiving”?

If you’re wondering what on earth we’re even talking about when we say Friendsgiving, hear me out. Friendsgiving is Thanksgiving’s livelier, sloppier, (and oftentimes cheaper,) little brother. Now, I’m not saying family get-togethers don’t get wild — because they most certainly can. But there’s just something about Friendsgiving that hits differently.

Friendsgiving usually involves a potluck, a dance party, some party games, and unusually excessive alcohol consumption (unless your pals aren’t into that — in which case I couldn’t be happier for your spry livers). Essentially, it’s Thanksgiving with your BFFs — and what more could you possibly want?

Photo: Nadia Snopek/Shutterstock.com

Whether Friendsgiving is a long-held tradition, or you just want an excuse to extend the Thanksgiving holiday this year — it’s probably best if you organize a virtual celebration. I mean, you don’t have to be “woke” to notice we’re in the middle of a freaking pandemic here.

So gathering with your friends (who could be out there doing heck knows what) for a full-on Friendsgiving shindig is likely out of the question for Thanksgiving 2020. That’s why, if you continue reading, you’ll find our recommendations on how to make 2020’s Friendsgiving fun, safe, and virtual.

Check out these 10 tips on how to host a virtual Friendsgiving 2020:

Pick a Date

Since Thanksgiving day is typically reserved for family affairs, we recommend planning your Friendsgiving on the weekend before. A Saturday night seems to be the best choice, given most people will have the entire day off to hang out. (Not to mention the Sunday off, y’know, to nurse the hangover.) But this date is flexible, of course. Talk to your pals, and see what works best for them.

Friendsgiving Invitations

Sending out invites that include specific details is important for this non-holiday celebration, especially if it’s your first time celebrating. Some of your friends may not know what Friendsgiving even is, let alone what a virtual one is going to look like. So, be sure to mention all of the details in your invites, including what video chat platform you intend to “meet” on. A simple email will suffice, but feel free to get creative with snail-mail or even a virtual singing telegram!

Plan a Virtual Activity

Photo: Nadia Snopek/Shutterstock.com

Choosing an activity for your virtual Friendsgiving is an absolute must. Sure, it’s fun to sit around and catch up on each other’s quarantine lives — but we’re celebrating here, aren’t we? In case you’re looking for ideas, we’ve got you covered.

Play a Game

Sure, virtual charades, trivia, or Jackbox can be a ton of fun, but why not try something new? We’ve all played those classic party games before, but have you ever participated in a virtual interactive game show? Or a murder mystery game? If you’re looking to spice up your virtual Friendsgiving, we have some awesome virtual entertainment for you to check out.

Friendsgiving Movie

Photo: Nadia Snopek/Shutterstock.com

The best thing about a Friendsgiving movie? It can be whatever the heck you and your pals want it to be. A comedy? A thriller? A horror movie? Take a vote, make a choice, and watch together via Netflix party.

If you’re struggling with finding something you’ll all enjoy, we recommend perusing through past Oscar-winning films. Want to make it topical? Choose a coming of age story that’ll hit you right in the nostalgic feel-goods.

Happy Hour

If y’all normally dip your toes in the sauce when you get together, then why wouldn’t you have a few on this virtual holiday? Maybe that means hanging out with a glass of wine, but maybe it means you go all out, do an online mixology workshop, and shake up something fancy together! P.S. Try one of these 15 delicious Thanksgiving cocktail recipes .

Say Thanks

Sometimes, we forget to tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them. That’s why cheesy holiday stuff (believe it or not) can be beneficial to our relationships. They help remind you of just how lucky you are to be surrounded by people who actually like you. So do it. Go around the virtual table and thank the heck out of each other for existing.

Alternatively, if you’re cringing at the very thought of this idea (I get it, it’s not for everyone) — try the “show your love by teasing” approach with a roast circle instead. There most definitely will still be an element of cringe, but at least you can hide your undying affection behind humor. You could even organize for a special guest (we’re talking roastmaster) to make an appearance on your call. Could! Be! Fun!

Virtual Dance Party

Photo: Nadia Snopek/Shutterstock.com

Nothing says Friendsgiving like a dance party, right? Right! So throw on a bumpin’ party playlist and get groovin’.

For even more virtual activities, check out these 35 virtual party ideas!

Friendsgiving Decorations

For some, the best part about doing Friendsgiving virtually is getting to be lazy and forgoing the Friendsgiving decorations. For others, hanging autumn foliage around the house is a huge part of getting into the spirit of it all! Either way, there’s one easy thing you can do to add a little Thanksgiving ambience to your digital event: Use a Thanksgiving Zoom background! Lucky for you, we have a whole collection of hi-res Thanksgiving Zoom backgrounds that you can download for free! (You’re welcome.) So check them out, and live your best virtual life.

Eat Together

Photo: Nadia Snopek/Shutterstock.com

Your Friendsgiving potluck might be out of the question this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t snack together via video chat. Bust out your favorite fall recipes (or order a pizza), and chow down while you hang out virtually.

Looking for Thanksgiving ideas too? Check out these 13 tips on how to plan a virtual Thanksgiving

About Brittany Barber
Brittany Barber, lover of books, dogs and romance, graduated from Bishop’s University with a Communications and Theatre degree. After spending some time working abroad in the theatre world, she is now a freelance writer covering a range of lifestyle topics including wedding and event planning for The Bash, WeddingWire, 2life and Fluttr.

The only thing better than Thanksgiving dinner is two Thanksgiving dinners. Here’s how to double your fun – and give thanks for great friends – with a Friendsgiving dinner this year.

Related To:

How to host a friendsgiving

Thanksgiving is a traditional meal — gotta have that green bean casserole that’s been in the family for generations — but Friendsgiving? It’s the perfect time to start a new tradition. Want to roast a pork belly? Confit the turkey thighs? Add Chinese sausage to the pigs in blankets? The world is your oyster (stuffing).

Scheduling Your Friendsgiving
Earlier in the month works well if you’re also using it as a trial run for actual Thanksgiving. Pros are that people are usually around, no one has turkey fatigue yet and you get to fine-tune your party game plan without burning out.

The same weekend of Thanksgiving is awesome if you’re into stretching out the holiday. Pros: You can strategically repurpose leftovers into new dishes, turkeys are on sale and you’re already hyperaware of the one thing you really needed to have this year.

Either way, save yourself a little prep time by picking at least one make-ahead recipe, doubling it, then freezing it so you’ve got less to do for round two.

Planning Your Dishes
Friendsgiving was made for potluck. Assign people a general category (potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, dessert), and, if you think it’s necessary, a theme (Korean, Italian, farm-to-table, deep-fried). Make your friends RSVP, then figure out amounts from here.

That said, you (as the host) should make the turkey and gravy, because nobody wants to transport 20-odd pounds of piping-hot poultry anywhere. Here’s a rundown of our favorite turkey recipes, from traditional to you-did-what-with-a-turkey?

If you’re not an old hand at big dinner parties, have plenty of snacks and apps on hand just in case dinner gets delayed. This can be as simple as a cheese plate or veggies and dips, or you can have one of your more skillful friends prep something from here.

Are all your friends vegans? Or paleo? Use this cheat sheet to strategize.

Depending on who your friends are, you’ll probably also want to have alcohol on hand. You can either go wine and beer only, or plan on one of these awesome cocktails to have as your house drink.

Setting the Scene
Make sure you have plenty of serving utensils and platters. If your friends are bringing sides, have them bring serving bowls too.

If anyone calls and doesn’t know what to bring, suggest ice, wine or napkins. Those are always welcome.

If you’re serving dinner buffet style, wrap flatware in napkins and put the bundles at the end of the buffet line so people can grab them when they’re done loading their plates. If you’re doing family style, consider scooping popular sides (like mashed potatoes) into two bowls so people don’t have to pass things too far.

You can definitely go full tablescape if you want — what are friends for, if not to appreciate your decorative gourd collection? — or minimal. As long as your table is full of friends (and your friends are full of food), you can consider your Friendsgiving a success.

There’s no real difference between Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving. Except, at Friendsgiving, you get to call the shots. Slow your roll, girl, and don’t let all that power go to your head—it takes some serious chops to throw an event that’s as much a delectable feast as it is a seasonal affair to remember.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered, with tips from the two party-hosting pros on who to invite, what to cook, and how to set the mood. All you need to do is follow their easy-breezy advice below, and everyone on your guest list will be thankful they made the cut. And you? Well, you’ll be thankful you didn’t have to do it all on your own.

This is best part about Friendsgiving — you get to cull your guest list not from the family you were born into, but from your day-to-day family, i.e., your friends, who would be beyond grateful to share your table. “Try to invite friends who may not have family close by, or friends who are just as into food and drink as you are,” suggests Kristen Gormley from Bottle Pop Party Company, a wedding and event planning company in Pennsylvania. “The best thing about Thanksgiving, or Friendsgiving, is that everyone feels like family on this day.” But, don’t let yourself get talked into inviting people you feel duty-bound to include, warns Claire Shipley, chef and author of Diva’s Guide to Dinner Parties. “If you have different ‘sets’ of friends from different parts of your life, now is not the time to bring them all together. Stick with a good group of people who are unlikely to create any stresses! The only stress you want to feel is stressing which comfy pants you want to wear!”

Don’t be a martyr and try to take on all the cooking tasks—chances are, your parents (or relatives) have much more counter space than in your pad. Friendsgiving is a perfect opportunity for a potluck approach.”The best way to keep track is a simple spreadsheet, one you could even upload to a shared site, like Google Docs, so that all of your guests have access and can sign up for what they prefer to bring,” suggests Gormley. When it comes to the menu, it’s best for be fairly general, adds Shipley. “Stick to an overall theme, like a cold buffet—think cheese plate, two salads, two meat dishes, a fruit platter, breads and crackers, dips, etc.” The only thing you should do yourself? The turkey. “Transporting a cooked turkey is no small feat!” warns Gormley.

In this day and age, you’re bound to have at least one person on your guest list who’s vegan, gluten-free, or doesn’t eat sugar/dairy/carbs. “Don’t be shy about asking your guests if they have any dietary restrictions or preferences,” says Gormley. “People will usually offer to bring something that meets their specific needs! And, if not, invite them to bring a special dish to share with the group.”

Trying to juggle hostess duties and kitchen responsibilities is the quickest way to give yourself a Thanksgiving meltdown. “It all comes down to planning,” advises Shipley. “If you don’t want to lose your mind, make sure you set a timeline, from what day to order the meat and the flowers, to the day and time you are picking up the groceries, prepping the food, laying the table all the way to finalizing the finishing touches on dessert. Without a clear timetable, it’s easy to fret, stress and create a disaster.” And no one wants to deal with charred turkey.

Ah, the alcohol—it’s almost as important as the food when it comes toasting the seasons. “Sparkling wines are perfect for serving with apps on Thanksgiving,” recommends Gormley. “They’re light, and feel festive when drinking them—the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. For dinner, the white wine lovers will enjoy Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling—any white that’s crisp with a well balanced acidity. For reds, chose a Pinot Noir or another red with a fresh and fruity tartness.” If you want to get really classy, handing out a cocktail on arrival is a nice touch, says Shipley — and we’ve got the perfect Cranberry Sour to recommend.

With your best friends, finding something to talk about is as easy as finding at Law & Order rerun on TV. But, if you’re open to inviting people you don’t know as well, make sure everyone’s involved to break the ice and make conversation feel natural. “Let your guests feel connected to the meal, and they’ll then naturally connect with each other,” says Gormley. “Shared tasks can spark great conversations!” As the host, though, you should be prepared to keep the chatter flowing—”try asking questions like ‘What Turkey Day traditions does your family share?’ ‘When do you start decorating for Christmas?’ and ‘Are there any wacky or non-traditional food that you prefer on Thanksgiving?'” suggests Gormley.

“This time of year is about celebrating the harvest, so head outside for inspiration,” says Gormley. “Since you’re serving such delicious food, keep the decor simple enough to let the food shine. Natural elements and unscented candles create a cozy atmosphere. Twinkly lights are always a good idea as the sun sets!” A great centerpiece can totally set the scene, adds Shipley. “A standout piece draws your guests eyes and reinforces the theme for your party. Adorn the rest of your table with pieces that accent and complement that centerpiece.” FYI: getting creative with this can be aaalmost as fun as Black Friday shopping.

“There is very little point hosting a dinner party if you don’t enjoy it,” reminds Shipley. And, as important as the turkey and the decor may be, the most important part of any dinner party—whether it being Thanksgiving or an informal BBQ—is ensuring you and your guests are happy and comfortable. “You don’t want people to wonder and worry if it’s OK to sit down, put their drink on a polished table, or find their way to the bathroom. Plan ahead, anticipate their needs, and remember to enjoy your hard work, and the party will be awesome!”

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How to host a friendsgiving

Of course, Thanksgiving is a time for hanging out with family, eating tons of food, and perhaps going back to your hometown for a long weekend. But if maybe you and your friends aren’t going home, or perhaps you want to have a pre- or post-Thanksgiving weekend dinner party, why not host a “Friendsgiving”? It’s a friends-filled feast complete with all the trimmings, without all that family drama—you know, the stories you’ve heard a million times before, having to figure out (or argue about) which family to visit first with your partner, political differences, and on and on.

But before you all gather ‘round and dig into a glorious spread, the hosts have lots to do. Whether you’re new to hosting or are a Friendsgiving veteran, it can feel a bit overwhelming to prepare everything from the turkey to tablescapes.

To help, Brides spoke with Joanne Cardella, Special Events Manager for Cardella Events, for her expert dinner party hosting advice and her best Friendsgiving ideas for some inspiration!

Keep it Simple

While it might be tempting to pull out all the stops and whip out all your new registry tools, it’s important to keep it fairly simple—especially if this is your first time hosting. Cardella stresses the importance of remembering the reason for the event, and that it’s not obligatory like some other holidays. She says, “The whole idea of Friendsgiving is you get to spend the day with your chosen family—your friends—so make sure to keep it fun and simple.”

Perhaps one of the best ways to do this is to host Friendsgiving after Thanksgiving, perhaps the weekend after. This way, anyone who is both cooking for Turkey Day and contributing to Friendsgiving can simply make a double batch and freeze half.

It’s almost always best to go with a pot-luck style Friendsgiving unless you’re really keen on embracing your inner Martha Stewart. Cardella also recommends letting your friends bring what they like. “Each one of your friends has a signature dish or a Thanksgiving favorite so just let them be creative and bring what they like,” she says. “There’s no harm in having two stuffings!”

Decor

Setting the mood for your Friendsgiving is almost as important as the food you serve — but this doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money on things you’ll only put one month out of the year! Instead, aim to make it personal and incorporate decor items that you’ll use again throughout your home. Think: spicy candles, linen table runners, and some seasonal greenery like eucalyptus, along with autumnal accents like squash, pomegranate, and mini pumpkins. And don’t forget, bouquets (no matter how minimal) always seem to pull a tablescape and dining room together!

Photographs are also a great way to add a special touch, Cardella says. “You and your friends have already created so many memories together, so why not display them with fun photos around the house?”

She suggests perhaps even blowing up a classic or two for an extra special focal point. “While your friends are taking a trip down memory lane through photos,” she says, “why not add a fun corner where they can create new ones with a simple photo backdrop?”

These days, super affordable photo booth props are available in party stores or on Amazon, so grab a few and you’ll be on your way to ‘gram-worthy snaps in a flash. After all, is it really Friendsgiving if you didn’t post it?

Seating

Seating doesn’t have to be stuffy, nor does it need to involve Post Its, algorithms or any other methods you may have tried while wedding planning. Since you’re all friends, why not put a fun spin on it?

“Instead of place cards with assigned seating, put a number on all of the seats and make them blindly pull a number,” Cardella suggests. “Changing up a simple seating plan is a fun way to keep the dinner conversation lively!”

Enlist people to help

Cardella suggests hiring a server and/or a bartender to help with your event. “Let them set out or pass hors d’oeuvres, get dinner ready, clean and clear and let’s not forget displaying all the fun desserts that everyone brought,” she says. This way, you can kick back and relax, enjoying all of your hard work.

If this isn’t your style or is out of your budget, perhaps ask a friend to lend a helping hand instead of bringing a dish. That way, they’re still contributing while helping you to enjoy the day as well.

Most importantly, keep in mind the meaning behind the day. It’s an event with your “chosen” family. Try not to get too caught up in the details and specifics, and if something doesn’t work out as you planned—let it go. Enjoy spending time around the table with your besties.

How to host a friendsgiving

Hosting a Friendsgiving in Your Apartment

With a holiday as wonderful as Thanksgiving, why would you want it to last one day? Hosting a Friendsgiving in your apartment is one way to make the holiday last all week long. Plan your Friendsgiving for the days prior to or after Thanksgiving Day, or you can make it your main Thanksgiving Day celebration.

Whichever day or format you choose, just remember to make your Friendsgiving simple, unique, warm, and entertaining.

Tips for Hosting a FriendsgivingВ in Your ApartmentВ

1. You don’t have to have the whole turkey.

A whole turkey is a challenge to cook even with the best culinary skills. So why hassle? You’d much rather enjoy the Friendsgiving party with your guests, after all, so consider these options.

  • If your Friendsgiving is on Thanksgiving Day, order your meal from a local deli a few days ahead of time. You can pick it up a few hours before your Friendsgiving dinner, and all you will need to do is set the table. If your gathering is small enough, a turkey breast alone may be good enough as the main course.
  • Plan your party for the day after Thanksgiving or the following Saturday, and use leftovers from the Thanksgiving Day meal to make turkey wraps, soup, a breakfast casserole, or a main course salad with turkey as the protein.
  • Skip the turkey altogether and opt for a refreshing, light meal with fruits and vegetables to balance out the heavier foods you had or will have on Thanksgiving Day.

2. It doesn’t have to be just the basic dinner.

Think outside the box. You can make your party whatever you want it to be.

  • Organize a Thanksgiving Eve get-together with finger foods and drinks.
  • Prepare ahead of time for a Thanksgiving-themed breakfast that you will all enjoy prior to venturing out for Black Friday shopping.
  • Hold a fun holiday tree-trimming luncheon on the following Saturday.
  • Host a Friendsgiving brunch the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day.
  • Plan a Friendsgiving football bash.
  • Just for kicks, forget the fall and create a tropical-themed Friendsgiving.

3. Turn it into a party.

Your Friendsgiving isn’t only about the meal. Turn it into a memorable event that your friends will want to attend every year.

  • Turn on the music as you’re preparing the meal.
  • Play adult party games like Heads Up! and Scene It.
  • Hold a poker tournament.
  • Relax and watch your favorite holiday movie after dinner.

4. Make it casual and easy.

If you want to set up an elegant dinner table, that’s great. Just remember to set the table with Thanksgiving-themed silverware, dishes, and centerpieces.

But you have another option: Save the hard work for the big day. The beauty of hosting a Friendsgiving in your apartment is that it can be laid back and stress-free.

  • Opt for Thanksgiving-themed paper plates and disposable silverware to eliminate the fuss of clean-up.
  • Make it a potluck, where your friends can bring foods and drinks.
  • Turn it into an open house, so your friends can come and go as they please.

5. Give your Friendsgiving personality.

Make sure your get-together still has a warm Thanksgiving theme.

  • Decorate your apartment with fall-themed embellishments.
  • Fire up the fireplace to complement the ambiance.
  • Have each person share what he or she is thankful for.
  • Offer small Friendsgiving gifts to your guests, such as mini bags of chocolates, trinkets, or lotions.

6. Prepare your apartment.

Take the time to get your apartment ready for your Friendsgiving event.

  • Move unnecessary furniture out of the way to create additional space.
  • Have bean bags, pillows, and blankets available in case your guests want to make themselves comfortable on your couches or floor after the meal.
  • Make room in your coat closet for guests’ belongings, or otherwise reserve a spot for coats and purses that is out of the way.
  • Rent or borrow chairs and tables if necessary, especially if you’re planning a more elegant event.
  • Shop for all the supplies you need several days before the event.

Have a Great Friendsgiving with Singh

Our Singh apartments in Canton, Novi, West Bloomfield, Auburn Hills, Commerce Township, Northville, and Rochester Hills feature all the amenities you need for a fantastic Friendsgiving.

With generous storage space and large bedrooms for overnight guests, as well as fireplaces, gourmet kitchens, and attached garages at many of our communities, hosting a Friendsgiving in your apartment will be easier and more delightful than you know.

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How to host a friendsgiving

Photo: Courtesy of Heather Taylor Home / @heathertaylorhome

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

Hosting a Friendsgiving? While skipping out on holiday travel and family dinner table politics in favor of a low-key and tasty meal with friends is, for many, an obvious trade-off, pulling off the fete isn’t as effortless as it may seem. To avoid being saddled with all the cooking, shopping, and cleaning, organization is key. Everyone may mean well and intend to chip in, but without a bit of oversight, you might just end up with five sides of mashed potatoes and a barrage of wine bottles. To avoid any Friendsgiving stress, home designers Heather Taylor and Amanda Shine chime in on how to throw a perfect celebration without doing all the work yourself.

Make It a Potluck
“Thanksgiving is a perfect holiday for a potluck since it’s all about the cooking and people want to contribute,” says Taylor. But before asking your guests to bring something, make a list of the dishes you’d like to serve and how many people will be eating. Compile the details into a shared Google Doc so you and your guests can plan together. If someone isn’t confident in their cooking or baking skills, have them bring wine or help with day-of prep.

Master Delegating
Asking for help is key for coordinating a stress-free Friendsgiving. In addition to delegating food and beverage for the potluck meal, consider assigning other pre- and post-party tasks as well. Sign up a few friends to help you set the table and finalize food before the whole gang arrives, task someone with drink duty during the meal, ask someone to be in charge of clearing the table post-meal, a couple of people to handle dishes, and even someone to package up leftovers for guests to take home. Be as granular as you like. Even though you’re hosting, for Friendsgiving, your friends should be more than willing to lend a hand.

Less Is More
“Don’t go crazy with delicate wine glasses and fancy plates that require special cleaning,” advises Taylor. If there was any day the dishwasher was made for, this is it, so use it! Focus on festive food, candlelight, and flowers to dress up the table.

Create a Casual Environment
If part of the appeal of hosting is going all-out on decor, go for it! But for a holiday when the food should take center stage, there’s no need to spend days decorating. A tidy house, a few pretty (unscented) candles, and ample comfy seating are all you need to make guests feel at home. Friendsgiving is all about a relaxed get-together, not a stiff, formal affair. To that end, be sure to suggest an appropriate dress code; nobody wants to be the one person in a cocktail dress while everyone else is in jeans.

Skip Homemade Appetizers
Rather than spending hours making homemade bites for your guests to snack on upon arrival, put together one killer cheese and charcuterie plate. Taylor likes to pair three types of cheeses with charcuterie, roughly torn cubes of baguette, small bowls of Lucques olives, and fig preserves (or even pumpkin butter). Your guests will swoon over the beautiful presentation and noshes but will still have room for the big meal ahead.

Utilize the Night Before
Shine swears that the night before is your secret weapon. We’d take it a step further and say that the week before is golden party-prep time. Tidy up, make sure you have enough serving dishes for your proposed menu, and maybe even set the table in the days leading up to the festivities. And, of course, pre-cooking any dishes on your to-do list is the way to go. After all, a relaxed, happy host is the best host.

There’s no real difference between Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving. Except, at Friendsgiving, you get to call the shots. Slow your roll, girl, and don’t let all that power go to your head—it takes some serious chops to throw an event that’s as much a delectable feast as it is a seasonal affair to remember.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered, with tips from the two party-hosting pros on who to invite, what to cook, and how to set the mood. All you need to do is follow their easy-breezy advice below, and everyone on your guest list will be thankful they made the cut. And you? Well, you’ll be thankful you didn’t have to do it all on your own.

This is best part about Friendsgiving — you get to cull your guest list not from the family you were born into, but from your day-to-day family, i.e., your friends, who would be beyond grateful to share your table. “Try to invite friends who may not have family close by, or friends who are just as into food and drink as you are,” suggests Kristen Gormley from Bottle Pop Party Company, a wedding and event planning company in Pennsylvania. “The best thing about Thanksgiving, or Friendsgiving, is that everyone feels like family on this day.” But, don’t let yourself get talked into inviting people you feel duty-bound to include, warns Claire Shipley, chef and author of Diva’s Guide to Dinner Parties. “If you have different ‘sets’ of friends from different parts of your life, now is not the time to bring them all together. Stick with a good group of people who are unlikely to create any stresses! The only stress you want to feel is stressing which comfy pants you want to wear!”

Don’t be a martyr and try to take on all the cooking tasks—chances are, your parents (or relatives) have much more counter space than in your pad. Friendsgiving is a perfect opportunity for a potluck approach.”The best way to keep track is a simple spreadsheet, one you could even upload to a shared site, like Google Docs, so that all of your guests have access and can sign up for what they prefer to bring,” suggests Gormley. When it comes to the menu, it’s best for be fairly general, adds Shipley. “Stick to an overall theme, like a cold buffet—think cheese plate, two salads, two meat dishes, a fruit platter, breads and crackers, dips, etc.” The only thing you should do yourself? The turkey. “Transporting a cooked turkey is no small feat!” warns Gormley.

In this day and age, you’re bound to have at least one person on your guest list who’s vegan, gluten-free, or doesn’t eat sugar/dairy/carbs. “Don’t be shy about asking your guests if they have any dietary restrictions or preferences,” says Gormley. “People will usually offer to bring something that meets their specific needs! And, if not, invite them to bring a special dish to share with the group.”

Trying to juggle hostess duties and kitchen responsibilities is the quickest way to give yourself a Thanksgiving meltdown. “It all comes down to planning,” advises Shipley. “If you don’t want to lose your mind, make sure you set a timeline, from what day to order the meat and the flowers, to the day and time you are picking up the groceries, prepping the food, laying the table all the way to finalizing the finishing touches on dessert. Without a clear timetable, it’s easy to fret, stress and create a disaster.” And no one wants to deal with charred turkey.

Ah, the alcohol—it’s almost as important as the food when it comes toasting the seasons. “Sparkling wines are perfect for serving with apps on Thanksgiving,” recommends Gormley. “They’re light, and feel festive when drinking them—the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. For dinner, the white wine lovers will enjoy Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling—any white that’s crisp with a well balanced acidity. For reds, chose a Pinot Noir or another red with a fresh and fruity tartness.” If you want to get really classy, handing out a cocktail on arrival is a nice touch, says Shipley — and we’ve got the perfect Cranberry Sour to recommend.

With your best friends, finding something to talk about is as easy as finding at Law & Order rerun on TV. But, if you’re open to inviting people you don’t know as well, make sure everyone’s involved to break the ice and make conversation feel natural. “Let your guests feel connected to the meal, and they’ll then naturally connect with each other,” says Gormley. “Shared tasks can spark great conversations!” As the host, though, you should be prepared to keep the chatter flowing—”try asking questions like ‘What Turkey Day traditions does your family share?’ ‘When do you start decorating for Christmas?’ and ‘Are there any wacky or non-traditional food that you prefer on Thanksgiving?'” suggests Gormley.

“This time of year is about celebrating the harvest, so head outside for inspiration,” says Gormley. “Since you’re serving such delicious food, keep the decor simple enough to let the food shine. Natural elements and unscented candles create a cozy atmosphere. Twinkly lights are always a good idea as the sun sets!” A great centerpiece can totally set the scene, adds Shipley. “A standout piece draws your guests eyes and reinforces the theme for your party. Adorn the rest of your table with pieces that accent and complement that centerpiece.” FYI: getting creative with this can be aaalmost as fun as Black Friday shopping.

“There is very little point hosting a dinner party if you don’t enjoy it,” reminds Shipley. And, as important as the turkey and the decor may be, the most important part of any dinner party—whether it being Thanksgiving or an informal BBQ—is ensuring you and your guests are happy and comfortable. “You don’t want people to wonder and worry if it’s OK to sit down, put their drink on a polished table, or find their way to the bathroom. Plan ahead, anticipate their needs, and remember to enjoy your hard work, and the party will be awesome!”

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How to host a friendsgiving

Photo: Courtesy of Heather Taylor Home / @heathertaylorhome

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Hosting a Friendsgiving? While skipping out on holiday travel and family dinner table politics in favor of a low-key and tasty meal with friends is, for many, an obvious trade-off, pulling off the fete isn’t as effortless as it may seem. To avoid being saddled with all the cooking, shopping, and cleaning, organization is key. Everyone may mean well and intend to chip in, but without a bit of oversight, you might just end up with five sides of mashed potatoes and a barrage of wine bottles. To avoid any Friendsgiving stress, home designers Heather Taylor and Amanda Shine chime in on how to throw a perfect celebration without doing all the work yourself.

Make It a Potluck
“Thanksgiving is a perfect holiday for a potluck since it’s all about the cooking and people want to contribute,” says Taylor. But before asking your guests to bring something, make a list of the dishes you’d like to serve and how many people will be eating. Compile the details into a shared Google Doc so you and your guests can plan together. If someone isn’t confident in their cooking or baking skills, have them bring wine or help with day-of prep.

Master Delegating
Asking for help is key for coordinating a stress-free Friendsgiving. In addition to delegating food and beverage for the potluck meal, consider assigning other pre- and post-party tasks as well. Sign up a few friends to help you set the table and finalize food before the whole gang arrives, task someone with drink duty during the meal, ask someone to be in charge of clearing the table post-meal, a couple of people to handle dishes, and even someone to package up leftovers for guests to take home. Be as granular as you like. Even though you’re hosting, for Friendsgiving, your friends should be more than willing to lend a hand.

Less Is More
“Don’t go crazy with delicate wine glasses and fancy plates that require special cleaning,” advises Taylor. If there was any day the dishwasher was made for, this is it, so use it! Focus on festive food, candlelight, and flowers to dress up the table.

Create a Casual Environment
If part of the appeal of hosting is going all-out on decor, go for it! But for a holiday when the food should take center stage, there’s no need to spend days decorating. A tidy house, a few pretty (unscented) candles, and ample comfy seating are all you need to make guests feel at home. Friendsgiving is all about a relaxed get-together, not a stiff, formal affair. To that end, be sure to suggest an appropriate dress code; nobody wants to be the one person in a cocktail dress while everyone else is in jeans.

Skip Homemade Appetizers
Rather than spending hours making homemade bites for your guests to snack on upon arrival, put together one killer cheese and charcuterie plate. Taylor likes to pair three types of cheeses with charcuterie, roughly torn cubes of baguette, small bowls of Lucques olives, and fig preserves (or even pumpkin butter). Your guests will swoon over the beautiful presentation and noshes but will still have room for the big meal ahead.

Utilize the Night Before
Shine swears that the night before is your secret weapon. We’d take it a step further and say that the week before is golden party-prep time. Tidy up, make sure you have enough serving dishes for your proposed menu, and maybe even set the table in the days leading up to the festivities. And, of course, pre-cooking any dishes on your to-do list is the way to go. After all, a relaxed, happy host is the best host.