Simple tips for hosting a memorable Friendsgiving celebration, from food and decor to things to do and how to set up your space!
I haven't had many opportunities to flex my hostess with the mostest muscles since the pandemic began and was excited about hosting Friendsgiving for the first time this year.
It was a blast and I didn't have to move mountains to pull everything together. So I'm sharing my top tips to ensure a low-stress hosting experience for you and a good time for everyone. Let's get into the details!
What is Friendsgiving?
This gathering typically occurs around the American Thanksgiving holiday, in November or early December. Friendsgiving is a less formal, less traditional version of a gratitude feast where groups of friends gather. It's extremely popular with millennials and folks from marginalized communities that often have to create chosen families.
1. Let Everyone Contribute Something
I created a core Friendsgiving menu with some of my most popular dishes that are always a hit at parties and invited everyone to bring their favorite dish, drink, or game to add to the fun. Here's what was available when guests showed up aka Friendsgiving menu ideas.
- Charcuterie Board
- Hickory Smoked Turkey
- Herb Roasted Salmon
- Massaged Kale Salad
- Nigerian Jollof Rice
- Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider Punch (Get the recipe in my Holiday Dinner Guide!)
- Full Home Bar
- Holiday Bread Pudding
Some folks might be nervous about the idea of a Friendsgiving potluck. And I've attended a few Friendsgivings that had some questionable contributions but all of my people understood the assignment. Every dish was delicious and there were very few leftovers!
Make sure to put those leftovers to good use, though: make healing bone broth with leftover turkey!
2. Create a Signup Sheet
Using Google Sheets to build a collaborative menu is easy. One of the things I love most about Friendsgiving gatherings is that the menu doesn't have to be traditional. In fact, it's often an eclectic reflection of the different traditions and tastes in your friend group. Ours was no exception. Here's how to make a Friendsgiving signup sheet in Google Sheets.
- Communicate an estimate of how many people are coming so everyone knows how much to make or buy.
- Include categories like mains, side dishes, desserts, bread/appetizers, drinks/mixers, and other.
- Add ideas for each category to inspire guests.
- Update the document sharing settings to be visible and editable by everyone for easy signup. This also ensures that people can see what's already accounted for to avoid too much of one dish.
What to serve at Friendsgiving? Aim for an assortment of proteins, vegetables, and starches, and a mix of traditional Thanksgiving foods like turkey and sweet potatoes and literally anything else you and your friends enjoy.
3. Outsource as Needed
Outsourcing is key to low-stress hosting. In addition to inviting all your friends to bring something, quell the urge to make everything from scratch! That has nothing to do with being a good Friendsgiving host. Especially if you will be doing any cooking for Turkey Day. For example, I picked up a fully cooked turkey from my favorite grocery store and nobody batted an eye.
4. Free up Space in the Kitchen
When setting up for Friendsgiving at home, make sure there's room in the fridge for cold dishes people may bring as well as any leftovers. It's also a good idea to empty your dishwasher and clear the sink. If food is going to be served in the kitchen, dirty dishes are just unappetizing.
5. Set up a Self- Serving Zone
We used chafers and a warm oven as landing spots for all the food that friends brought with as well as what I had cooked and arranged a kind of serving line using counter space. In addition to serving from chafers, you can use slow cookers with 'keep warm' settings, stovetop burners, and coolers.
Drinks were all on a dedicated table filled with non-alcoholic sips, wine, liquor, beer, mixers, punch, and ice. Let everyone know what will be available and refer to the signup sheet to know how many hot and cold dishes to expect so you can plan accordingly.
6. Have Things to Do
How are Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving different? Not only is Friendsgiving a less formal gathering of friends, it's also a chance to make your own traditions with chosen family. There's no Turkey Day football game or Christmas tree trimming happening so you'll want to have activities, especially if you're bringing together people from different parts of your life.
I had work friends, cousins, sorority sisters, my partner's friends, and college friends all in the mix! And we had a solid playlist and games on deck, as well as plenty of good conversation.
7. Use Small Touches to Make it Special
Part of my Friendsgiving dinner set up included putting on a simmer pot to make the whole house smell cozy and fresh. This easy and inexpensive touch helped set a welcoming tone. How to make a Friendsgiving tablescape? I kept the same simple energy for Friendsgiving decor. We just arranged water-filled vases with tea light candles and mini pumpkins at the center of each table.
I prefer not to wear shoes in the house and extended this expectation to guests but wanted to ensure everyone was still comfortable. So I ordered these slippers and set them up in a basket near the front door. And everyone could slip their shoes into this rack inside the coat closet!
8. Make Cleanup Easy
Hosting Friendsgiving at your house can be a big mess. And my least favorite part is cleanup but I was able to go to sleep with a sparkling clean house the same night thanks to good friends and planning ahead. Remember when I said to keep the sink and dishwasher clear? Here's why. It was also immensely helpful to use chic disposable plates, cups, and cutlery, and provide compostable to-go boxes.
I hope this helps your with how to host Friendsgiving. And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this Friendsgiving guide for later and follow me over on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!