The old saying “Friends are the family we pick for ourselves” is particularly true when you decide to host a “Friendsgiving” dinner with your pals. You may have your dinner before the actual holiday as a way to pre-party before your big family turkey fest. Or maybe you can’t – or dare we say don’t want to – celebrate with family and choose to host a meal for those in the same boat. Either way this kind of gathering can be a smashing success with the proper planning and attitude.
Tables, Seating, and Decor
The name of the game for a fun Friendsgiving is no fuss and no drama, and this begins with your table setting and ambiance. Keep the lighting low, light a fire if you have a fireplace, and make a play list that’s relaxing yet festive. For your table, start with a white or gold tablecloth, and then line Mason jars filled with succulents across the middle of the table for a clean, simple look. You can use whimsical printed cards with sayings like “Keep Calm and Gobble On” or “Get Your Pie On” placed around the table or on each place setting. Consider serving the meal family style, which is easy and lets you keep the table décor to a minimum because you need the room. Or throw out the whole formal seated idea, hand everyone a tray and sit on the couches in your living room. Or best yet, delegate the whole table theme to a friend who isn’t a cook but who wants to help out.
Keep the appetizers light because Thanksgiving meals are usually pretty heavy no matter how much we break from tradition. Serve starters like pumpkin-spiced almonds, a crudités platter, smoked salmon or shrimp cocktail, which are substantial but not too filling.
Buck the Traditional Menu – or Don’t
The great thing about freeing yourself of the traditional family setting is that you don’t have to roast a huge turkey and make that gooey green bean casserole. But remember that many people actually want that sort of meal, so you might want to mix the old with the new to allow for a sense of nostalgia.
Hosting a potluck will take a lot of stress off you. If you’re doing the traditional meal though, remember it’s best for the host to make the turkey and gravy – and nothing else – and follow the three cardinal rules of a potluck when assigning the rest of the items: They should be easy to make, able to be made ahead of time, and easily transported. Consider asking guests to bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish – or something from the region they’re from. Also remember to check for dietary restrictions of your friends, and ask those folks to bring a dish that fits in with their diet. Make sure to ask your guests to bring their food in a dish that’s buffet-ready or bring a platter or serving dish of their own.
Cocktails and Wine
A signature cocktail is always festive and makes the gathering feel special. Champagne cranberry punch or hot toddies are colorful and autumn-toned. Ask everyone else to bring a bottle of wine and your bar is good to go. Don’t forget to have juice or soda on hand for the teetotalers in the bunch.
Attitude of Gratitude
It’s easy to forget that this holiday is about being thankful, even if you’ve gone out of your way to gather your most beloved friends together. After dinner, ask your guests to name the one thing they are most thankful for this year. The answers can be thought provoking and meaningful and draw you closer to your friends. Or keep it lighter and ask everyone to name their worst Thanksgiving disaster ever!