Friendsgiving is to Thanksgiving what Michael Bublé is to old jazz standards: a modern take on an old classic.
Everyone knows what to expect at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, expensive travel arrangements, and your nosey, older relatives asking you probing questions about your love life. Friendsgiving, however, has no set expectations, leaving you to re-envision a traditional turkey day — while still keeping the classic elements you actually appreciate about Thanksgiving (i.e. pie).
Best of all, you get to celebrate it with the family that you chose. Below are six Friendsgiving ideas for throwing a memorable bash.
1Decide on your party style
Is your Friendsgiving going to be a formal, sit-down dinner with a set start time and seating assignment calligraphied on autumn leaves? Or are you imagining more of a casual cocktail party, perfect for those who have another Thanksgiving dinner to attend? Either way, it’s best to decide what kind of party while you’re still in the brainstorming phase of your Friendsgiving planning.
2Know your crowd
Hosting a potluck Thanksgiving when your friends are amateur chefs who constantly have the TV set to the Food Network is one thing. Asking your social circle to bring over Thanksgiving dishes when they don’t have a cooking bone in their bodies is quite another, as you might end up with one appetizer, three pies, and six bottles of wine.
In either case, it may be wise to assign everyone a dish or a category of food that correlates to their relative cooking abilities. Also, don’t feel like you need to be loyal to the whole turkey-and-ham main courses with a blob of gelatinous cranberries on the side trope. For example, if you have a sizable amount of vegans on your guest list, you could downgrade the turkey to a side dish, rather than be the star of dinner, or you could opt out of a turkey dinner all together and instead host a Friendsgiving brunch.
3Set the mood with decorations and music
The trick to turning a simple meal with friends into an elegant Friendsgiving dinner is to establish an upscale vibe with décor and a perfect background music playlist. Unlike Christmas, there aren’t too many “Thanksgiving” holiday songs (although Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song” will always be a fave). Still, it’s possible to create a fun Spotify list with songs about gratitude, thanks, and mashed potatoes.
As far as decorations go, you don’t have to go overboard to make your home feel festive. DIY some centerpieces, or drape a garland runner across the table with some white and gold accents, like in the photo above, and you’ll have a beautiful but low-key table setting. Lighting some delicious-smelling Thanksgiving candles never hurts, either.
4Have some fun activities prepped
Thanksgiving is generally an all-day holiday, so when hosting, be prepared with activities to keep your friends occupied in between eating and drinking. If the weather is nice enough to get outside, then playing some touch football is a fun way to burn off that stuffing. Or, back indoors, you could play games like Cards Against Humanity or watch Thanksgiving-themed movies.
5Serve a signature cocktail
Pre-mixing a large batch of a signature cocktail with save you tons of time. And on Friendsgiving, a host needs all the time she can find to get the meal ready. Besides being a fun conversation starter, a signature cocktail like a Turkey-Tini or this Apple Pie Moscow Mule can be pre-made and then served over ice in a copper mug as soon as your guests start to arrive.
6Send your friends home with a little something special
Whether it be cute take-out boxes full of stuffing and pie, some themed holiday cookies, or an actual Friendsgiving gift, send your guests home with a little something to remember the day by. After all, these are the people you love more than any others, and showing your favorites how much you care is what the holidays are all about.