Celebrating Thanksgiving with friends (in lieu of or in addition to family) has become a modern tradition. And while it hardly seems like a new idea for those of us who have spent countless holidays away from home, Friendsgiving is fast becoming a tradition in its own right.
In the same way the Pilgrims gave thanks for the community and feast shared by their Native American neighbors, so should we continue that tradition with those who act as our support system when we find ourselves far from home on Thanksgiving Day.
And in the same way our relationships with friends differ from those with family, Friendsgiving isn’t bound to just one way of doing things.
Here are 6 tips for hosting your own Friendsgiving.
Pick a Date that Works for You and Your Friends
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, but feel free to adjust that date if it makes sense for you and your guests. If it’s too hard to make it happen during the week, consider the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Or if some of your besties are headed home for the holiday, consider the weekend before.
This celebration is about giving thanks for those in your life who help to lift you up and support you. And if gathering all those folks together can only happen on a Sunday afternoon, then so be it.
Decide on a Dinner Theme
When most of us think of Thanksgiving, we envision roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. And honestly, you can’t go wrong with this time-tested menu.
But if turkey is not your thing, then feel free to get creative.
Want to do a take-out only dinner?
Want everything to be bite-sized or finger foods?
Want to fire up the fondue pot?
Friendsgiving should include a good meal, but what that meal entails is up to you.
Invite Your Friends
Try to give your guests as much notice as possible so they can plan ahead.
One of the best parts of Friendsgiving is that everyone brings a dish to share, much like those who attended the first Thanksgiving.
Be sure your invitation includes the date, time and location. Be clear about what you want everyone to bring to this meal. Online invites like Evite can make it easier to keep track of who is bringing what. Lest you end up with a turkey, 10 bowls of mashed potatoes and no gravy.
If You’re the the Host, Work to Minimize Your Stress
As the host of a Friendsgiving, your goal is to make sure everyone feels welcomed and is well fed. Depending on the size of your invite list, you may need to buy or borrow extra place settings, serving plates and utensils, or even chairs. Try to think ahead to make sure you have everything you’ll need on the day of the event. You’ll minimize your stress and be able to relax and enjoy the day.
You should also plan to provide the main course for the meal. If you’re going the traditional route, that means the turkey. If roasting an entire bird scares you, consider just a turkey breast or two. You may want to order it from the deli at your local grocery store.
Friendsgiving is about enjoying the bounty of friendship, not about slaving in the kitchen.
If basting the bird until it’s golden brown is your thing, then have at it. If you’re better at eating turkey than cooking it, then do what works for you.
Oh, and make sure you have extra foil, plastic wrap, paper plates, and storage/bags containers so you can send folks home with leftovers when the meal is done.
If You’re the Guest, Offer to Help
As an invited guest at a Friendsgiving celebration, make sure you take the time to RSVP. Even if you can’t attend, let your host know so they don’t plan for 10 only to have 2 show up.
If you do plan on attending, make sure you check with the host to find out what you can bring or how you can help. A bottle of wine is also a great host/hostess gift. Plus, a little bit of wine or a good craft beer never goes unappreciated among friends.
When the meal is done, don’t be a lump. Help your host clean up so they can enjoy the post-turkey celebration with you.
Count Your Blessings
Eat, drink, be merry, and take a moment to really appreciate the amazing friends you have in your life. Pictures are a given, so consider tasking someone with capturing photos of the day.
The tradition of sharing what you are thankful is a wonderful idea for dinner conversation starters. And no Friendsgiving meal would be complete without a toast to your friendship and the blessings those connections give you.