Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Those of us not sitting down to dinner with family will likely be breaking bread with the community you’ve chosen to surround yourself with. That’s right, we’re talking about Friendsgiving. It’s the next best-thing to being surrounded by kin and has been a popular way to celebrate this American tradition since 20-somethings started moving away from home. As you prepare to partake in this not-so-age-old tradition, we’re sharing our top tips for hosts and guests alike to make the most of this fabulous feast.
For the Host
Keep It Simple.
Nobody likes a stressed-out host. It can make guests feel uncomfortable and put a damper on what should be a fun, festive evening. So forget the new turkey recipe you’ve been thinking of and stick to what works. If you want to do more, go for something unfussy like a cheese plate, a dessert from your favorite bakery, or a nice spirit to be enjoyed after the meal. Your friends will be eager to help, so let them bring the rest.
Trying to do Friendsgiving all on your own is a recipe for disaster. Not only will you feel unnecessarily frazzled, the whole point of the day is to enjoy the company and bounty of your best friends. And besides, everybody wants to be helpful, but unless you provide direction, you could end up with no side dishes and nothing but wine. So send your guests a list of what they can bring. You can circulate a sign-up sheet for the various appetizers, accoutrements, desserts, and beverages you’ll need, or assign these items directly.
Email your guests ahead of time to find out if anybody has allergies or other dietary restrictions so you can plan the meal to accommodate everyone. The best meal is one everyone can enjoy together.
Set the Mood.
Decorate the house with candles and ambient light. Ask your most music-savvy friend to create a playlist.
No matter how hard you try, there’s a good chance something will not go according to plan. So do yourself a favor and do as many things as possible ahead of time. Get what groceries you’ll need the Sunday before. Double-check your list a few days beforehand so you aren’t running around the day before, or worse, the day-of. And set the table the night before. Not only will this set the mood, it’ll also make sure you’re only focused on the tasks that need to be accomplished the day-of.
Borrow extra dishes, flatware, and glasses, or hit the flea market and get some awesome vintage mix-and-match china. There’s no better time to invest in an extra set of dishes.
Keep Things Cool.
It may feel a bit chilly at first, but with the oven going all afternoon and a room full of friends, things will heat up quickly. So turn down the heat, or crank up the AC, depending on where you are.
And don’t forget to have cooler or two on-hand and more ice than you think you’ll need. People will bring beer, wine, and other items that may need to be kept cool and chances are your fridge will be full. If you don’t have one at the ready, ask a friend to bring one over the night before, or ask someone to come a little early and bring one along.
For the Guest
Surprises are great—but save it for a birthday. The host will have a lot going on and likely won’t have time to get whatever item you said you’d bring. So keep your promise and show up with whatever dish or drink you said you would. The only one you should break is the “just-bring-yourself” directive. Even if your host tells you they’ve got everything covered, bring an extra pie, a tasty side dish, or a nice bottle of wine.
Lend a Hand, Gingerly.
In addition to bringing an extra dish, find ways to be helpful without getting in the way. If the table isn’t set, volunteer to do it. Start cleaning up once it’s clear dinner is over so the host can relax. If you loop in a few friends to assist you, you’ll be done in no time.
Bring Extra Take-Home Containers.
Odds are there will be plenty of leftovers. While most of these should go to the host, there will likely be enough to go around. But instead of asking the host to give away their precious Tupperware, bring some tin foil, Ziploc bags, and a few extra containers.
Talk to Strangers.
Friendsgivings are often gatherings of friends from all walks of life. Do yourself a favor and make some new friends! You’ll take the pressure off the host to entertain and everybody will feel included.
Be on Time.
If the host says dinner will start at 4:30, show up in time to say hello, get a drink, offer to help, and take a seat. No one likes cold turkey.
Bring a Gift.
It’s certainly not a requirement, but leaving something behind is an extra-special way to show your gratitude. It doesn’t have to be expensive either; A simple bouquet of flowers, a nice candle, or a box of chocolates would suffice. It’s the thought that counts.
Any Friendsgiving tips and tricks to share? Sound off in the comments.