For the past 3 years, my friends and I have held a Friendsgiving dinner. It’s not all that different than any other Thanksgiving dinner; we cook, play games, and enjoy each other’s company. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions, and not just because I completely avoid terrible holiday traffic.
This year, my partner Dean and I are hosting Friendsgiving at our apartment for the first time, which gives me the opportunity to flex my planning muscles. I get so much enjoyment from the planning process and it has been fun to take on this new challenge. Over the next 2 posts, I will outline how to plan a Friendsgiving dinner. This post will cover all the organizing basics, while the next one will show you how to setup and decorate your home for the occasion. Be sure to check out my Youtube Channel on Wednesday for a video featuring some of the things I’ve picked up to decorate!
With that said, here are the things you need to consider when planning y0ur Friendsgiving Dinner.
Send out your invitation
This one seems a little obvious but should always be your first step. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, in most cases a simple email or text thread will suffice. Just make sure that your friends know where they need to be, at what time.
In my invites, I also include information on whether or not others invitees are welcome (At our Friendsgiving, it’s always the more, the merrier!) and a link to a spreadsheet (feel free to make a copy of the Google Doc linked here) to sign up with what food you are bringing.
We’ve set the expectation that each person (or couple) brings one dish and alcohol is BYOB. This always ensure that there is enough food and drinks, with some leftovers. Send out a reminder a couple of weeks before the big day so people remember to fill out the spreadsheet and have appropriately RSVPed.
Find out if guests have any dietary needs/restrictions
This is going to be very particular to your Friendsgiving and the people who are attending. Add a column to the spreadsheet in your invite so that guests can outline any restrictions. Unless there are several guests with the same restrictions, I will follow up with each guest individually to ensure that there will be enough dishes that they can enjoy. It usually ends up being as easy as making a few small substitutions so a dish can be enjoyed by more guests.
Figure out your room layout
We have held Friendsgiving dinners in every layout imaginable: all guests at the table, some guests at the table, some on the couch, people do whatever the heck they want, etc..
Determine what seating arrangement will work with your space and resources. I don’t recommend investing a ton of money on spare tables and chairs (unless you plan on hosting events regularly). This is a good opportunity to get to know your neighbors, ask if they have any chairs you can borrow (or invite them to Friendsgiving!). If you live in an apartment or condo, ask if your building has any folding chairs. If all else fails, folding chairs at Target cost about $10 a pop and are easy to store in a closet.
The most important thing is people aren’t forced to sit alone so group seating options to make sure no guest is lonely.
Find the gaps in your menu, and fill them
About a week before your event, ask your guests to make any final changes to the planning spreadsheet. Now that you know what everyone is planning to bring, you can slide yourself in to fill the gaps. No appetizers? You’re on appetizers. Only one dessert on the menu? You can make one! Not enough greens on the menu? It’s Thanksgiving, don’t worry about it. Or do. The long and short of this section: fill in the gaps that are important to YOU, and if something is not a priority, don’t sweat it. This leads me to my final tip…
Make Friendsgiving the event YOU want it to be
Planning an event is hard work! This is without all of the additional pressures we put on ourselves to meet holiday expectations. It’s very hard to enjoy the event you are throwing if you focus all of your energy on trying to make the event “perfect”. Being a good host or hostess doesn’t require you to suffer! Focus on the things that are important to you; have enough seating for your guests, and everything else is (metaphorical) gravy. My friends and I have kept our Friendsgiving tradition alive primarily because, we don’t sweat the small stuff and let ourselves enjoy the day. Allow yourself to appreciate the process and embrace the real reason to host events, to have a good time.
I hope these tips help you get organized and enjoy your Friendsgiving! Stayed tuned for next Monday’s post for Part Two: Decorating Your Home for Friendsgiving.