Since before we had kids, my husband and I have hosted an annual Friendsgiving dinner every year except 2020 (thanks, COVID). We’ve modified and tweaked it along the way to make it as easy, memorable, and delicious as possible. I’ll share a few tricks and tips we’ve picked up that might help you too if you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year! Hint: less is more. Without further ado I bring you, How to Host a Friendsgiving Dinner.
Prep & Planning
1. Cook the necessities only and leave everything else to your guests.
People naturally want to bring something to a dinner party, so let them! We only cook turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and provide the drinks. If you’re really feeling extra, put out a charcuterie board right before everyone arrives since they’re easy to prep.
My tips for a Charcuterie Board:
- Lay down a disposable table cloth
- Add in meats, cheeses, crackers, grapes, and olives
- Fruit can be a nice touch!
Usually anyone can find something to snack on from that selection, in case no one else brings appetizers. Yet remarkably, we rarely ever end up with not enough or too much of one dish. A little more about how we’ve made that possible next.
2. Connect with everyone digitally a few weeks in advance
Since most of our friends are one Facebook invite or text away, we don’t send formal invites. Creating a Facebook event a few weeks in advance is a great way to share details between guests by having everyone post what they plan to bring in the discussion. If someone isn’t on Facebook, you can comment with whatever they tell you they plan to bring. It’s also a great way to keep a ready eye on the number of guests you’ll have to make sure you buy a big enough turkey.
3. Keep your decorations minimal and reusable
Once upon a time, I used to think that party planning meant going over the top with a spotless, Pinterest-worthy house. For many reasons, that’s an absolutely terrible idea. I’ve found that the best Friendsgivings are those where I’ve let the stress of that false ideal go, and focused only on spending as much time as possible with my dearest friends. Embrace the easy recipes, disposable table cloths, plates, and silverware, and plan to spend as little time in front of your oven as possible.
After not gathering for a while, it can be a little stressful to have everyone over again. For hosting Friendsgiving this year, here are some small things to do the night before or morning of that can help set your mind at ease:
- Throw out a few packs of cards, board games, or set up a gaming system like Jackbox| This gives your guests something to do when they arrive and after they’ve eaten and don’t want to move!
- Use disposable tableware| These are your best friends, not your stuffy in-laws. Sturdy paper plates and plastic forks will do just fine and make cleaning up exponentially easier.
- Throw traditions out the door| Every year we have our friends sign a big fake pumpkin when they come, which serves as a guest book of sorts. Otherwise, gathering is the tradition – enjoy it.
- Play festive music or a movie – the cheesier the better| Most years our Friendsgiving has fallen on the same night as Silver Bells so we have the parade on the TV and Christmas music playing in the kitchen. Chatter about floats, quoting classic movies, and ambient background music helps to prevent awkward silences.
- Share the chores| Inevitably the trash can will fill, dishes will pile up, and something will spill. There is no shame in asking for help, or allowing it when someone offers. You’re not a martyr – you’re their friend and they are yours. That, to me, is the most beautiful part of it all, and why I’m so grateful for the friends we have.
This year, more than ever, we have so much to be grateful for. The pandemic has also made me rely closer on our little pod of friends than I ever knew possible. If you plan on hosting Friendsgiving, or even Thanksgiving, throw away the idea of perfection and embrace the beauty of simplicity and more time spent with good friends.