Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a day that’s rich in tradition – early morning cinnamon rolls, Black Friday flyer shopping, the Thanksgiving Day parade, and a feast focused on celebrating all good things! The only thing better than Thanksgiving is two Thanksgivings!
Last year Tim and I decided to host our first Friendsgiving as an excuse to get all of our closest friends together, relax, eat delicious food, and extend Thanksgiving out for just a bit longer! We crammed eight people into our small two bedroom condo and had the coziest Thanksgiving we’ve ever had! It didn’t seem to matter that our home was small, that the turkey was just a little too dry, and that my gravy didn’t turn out. All pressure was off for Friendsgiving. We were there to enjoy each other’s friendship!
I’m excited to be hosting this years’ Friendsgiving again (though our place is even smaller than it was last year)! As I prepare for this years dinner, I wanted to pass along a few of my planning tips in hopes to spread the love for Friendsgiving!
Here are the things to consider when planning Friendsgiving:
- Scheduling Your Friendsgiving
- Planning Your Dishes
- Coordinating the pot-luck portion
- Decorations of Course
- Take Home Bags
Scheduling Your Friendsgiving
Personally, my friend group is good with having Friendsgiving anytime between mid-November to mid-December! Here are a few things to consider on timing:
- Earlier in November: This works well if you want to use Friendsgiving as a trial run to the real Thanksgiving day. The nice thing about doing it early is that people are usually around, no one is yet tired of Turkey, and you likely aren’t burnt out from party planning!
- Week of Thanksgiving: This is a little more traditional and allows you to feel like you’re stretching the week out into one big Holiday. The hard part here, though, is scheduling! Typically your friends will be spending their actual Thanksgiving with family (and some of that family could be out of town).
- Earlier in December: If November sneaks up on you as it does for me, this might be your best option! Our particular friend group is so busy in November that it’s hard to get Friendsgiving in. So we opt for early December. December gives everyone a nice break from any Christmas stress and gives you the chance to tie in any Christmas traditions (i.e., secret Santa, ugly sweater contest).
Planning Your Dishes (As the Host)
It’s tradition for you (as the host) to make turkey and gravy. Who wants to carry a 20lb steaming-hot bird to a party? The great thing is, this will give you practice on cooking a turkey (sorry, friends). I’m still on the hunt for the perfect Turkey recipe – so if you have one, please feel free to comment and share!
Here is a good rule of thumb for how big of a turkey you should get:
Per Person: 1.5 lbs
8 Guests: 12 lbs
12 Guests: 18 lbs
20 Guests: 36 lbs
As for gravy, here is what you should plan on:
Per person: 1/3 cup
8 Guests: 2.75 cups
12 Guests: 1 quart
20 Guests: 2 quarts
Coordinating the Pot-Luck
Friendsgiving is made for a pot-luck! Before organizing this part, you’ll want to make sure you have RSVPs so that everyone knows how much to make. My favorite cheat sheet for food quantities can be found here. Also, consider whether your friends have any food allergies. It’s best to make everyone aware so that everyone can enjoy the party!
Then, make a list of traditional Thanksgiving dishes and have everyone sign up. You could do this through a Facebook invite, a Google doc, or an annoying group text chain.
- Appetizers (i.e., fruit, veggies/dip, cheese platter)
- Cranberry Salad/Sauce
- Green Salad
- Roasted Veggies (my favorite recipe is here)
- Green Bean Casserole
- Mac and Cheese
- Dessert (i.e., pie and ice cream)
More than likely, not all the dishes will be covered. It’s up to you on how you want to handle that! You could ask everyone to bring two dishes, choose to make the extras yourself, or not bother because you’ll more than likely have leftovers anyway!
Depending on your friends, you may also want to have alcohol on hand! You can either do wine (Gewurztraminer or a Red Blend are great Thanksgiving options) and beer, only or plan on having a holiday cocktail as your house drink. Another great option is to do a crockpot full of warm cider!
While you’re thinking about your favorite wine, don’t forget to provide water cups/ice!
Since everyone will likely be in a food coma by the end of the night, consider having coffee on hand to wake everyone up for the drive home!
Decorations, of Course
My favorite part. First consider how you plan to serve everyone: buffet style or a full tablescape.
For a buffet-style dinner, wrap silverware in napkins and bundle at the end of the buffet line so people can quickly grab it when their plates are loaded fully.Make sure you have plenty of serving utensils and platters, as that’s something people often forget to bring! For a full tablescape, consider having some smaller trays on hand so that everything can fit on the table.
Decorate around your serving style. There are plenty of Pinterest ideas sure to inspire your decor! Whether minimal or full of decorative gourds – as long as your table is full of friends and food, you can’t go wrong! Last year we opted for a black tablecloth, a craft paper table runner, and a setting of pumpkins and candles. This year, everyone will likely be crammed into the living room enjoying their feast from the couch or a fold-up chair.
Plan on having speakers and a good playlist. Making a good playlist, not your jam? Ask a friend to bring a playlist that can be played through Bluetooth speakers that you provide!
Consider having a few games on hand – our favorites include Telestrations and Headsup! You can also plan a game themed around giving thanks. Have guests write what they’re thankful for on a slip of paper and throw the slips into a bowl. Pass the bowl around, have each person grab a note, read aloud, and try to guess whose it was.
Take Home Bags
More than likely, you all will have a ton of food left. Plan on providing take-home bags/boxes so that everyone can distribute the leftovers. This way everyone doesn’t end up eating the single dish they brought for a week (who wants to eat just mashed potatoes for a week?).
I’m Liz Filion – I believe in chasing life outdoors by land & water. I’m a recent transplant to sunny Arizona all the way from the state of Washington. Wherever life takes me, my heart will always be anchored in the evergreens of the pacific northwest. I'm a runner, standup paddleboarder, and avid believer in seeking out adventure.Learn more