Whether you just want to share a fun-filled meal with friends before the actual holiday or simply can’t spend Thanksgiving Day with relatives this year, hosting a “Friendsgiving” dinner is the perfect way to celebrate the family you choose for yourself. We teamed up with Strongbow hard apple ciders to put together these top tips for hosting a casual, low-stress Friendsgiving celebration. Get ideas below, brought to you by Evite in partnership with Strongbow.
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Decor. The name of the game for a fun Friendsgiving is an absence of fuss. For visual interest, elevate dessert pies on cake stands (bought or borrowed) or a sideboard. For your table, a white or gold tablecloth dotted with fresh mini pumpkins makes for a clean, simple look. Whimsical place cards printed with sayings such as “Keep Calm and Gobble On” or “Get Your Pie On” at each setting add a little humor. Here, we opted for a table runner and small vases of flowers set off by gold place cards (leaves spray-painted gold with names written on them with black marker). Or, throw out the whole idea of formal seating and hand everyone a tray to eat off of while sitting on your living room couches — it doesn’t get any easier than that.
Music. A playlist of songs that incorporate the message of thanks (“Thank You” by Dido), friendship (“I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts, “We’re Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes) and/or food (“Sweet Potato Pie” by Ray Charles) is a fun way to set the stage for Friendsgiving.
Drinks and Cocktails. Fall comes with its own set of seasonal flavors, and your beverage selection is a great way to work them into the party. Crisp hard cider (Strongbow requires no mixing, and you can save on Strongbow thanks to this mail-in rebate) pays proper homage to the season. If it’s windy out, hot toddies with cinnamon sticks will warm up the crowd. Don’t forget to have cranberry juice or soda on hand for the teetotalers in the bunch.
Food. The great thing about freeing yourself of the traditional family setting is that you don’t have to roast a huge turkey. But remember that many people actually want that sort of meal, so you might want to stick with the old favorites to allow for a sense of nostalgia, especially if you’re hosting on Thanksgiving Day itself.
Hosting a potluck will alleviate a lot of stress. If you’re doing the traditional meal, it’s best for the host to make the turkey and gravy, and follow the three cardinal rules of a potluck when assigning the rest of the items: easy to make, able to be made ahead of time, and easily transported. Consider asking guests to bring their favorite Thanksgiving side dish, or something regional from their childhoods. Also remember to check for dietary restrictions of your friends, and ask those folks to bring a dish that fits with their diet. Encourage guests to bring their food in a dish that’s buffet-ready or to bring a platter or serving dish of their own.
Activities. 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. Ask guests to name the one thing they are most thankful for this year, and/or to bring canned goods to donate to the local food pantry. Gathering around the TV to watch football or a holiday special or movie (“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” or “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” never get old) is also classic fun.