How to Host the Ultimate Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving is becoming more and more of a trend these days with young adults. I will admit I bought into this idea 7 years ago, and this year will be hosting my 7th Annual Friendsgiving. My friends love this gathering every year because it gives them an excuse to test their hand in the kitchen (or go to the grocery store), and to eat all the Thanksgiving goodness a second time.

With my Friendsgiving celebration coming up, I thought I would share a few tips I have learned in the last 7 years to host the BEST Friendsgiving in town!

Go potluck style.  I like to host a large Friendsgiving celebration, which means cooking for a group of 20+ can be not only challenging, but expensive {The biggest group was 55, and this year will be around 30}.  When I started this tradition, I was only a few months into my first adult job out of college, and funds were limited.  Potluck style allowed me to only cook a few of the dishes, and everyone else to bring something to contribute. My friends have always really enjoyed the potluck style too, because then they can test out a new {pinterest} recipe or make something their family normally does for the holidays. The stress of hosting a large meal goes drastically down when you only have to make a small portion of the meal to prepare, and it allows for time to finish cleaning your house. If you are like me, I always leave the “tidying” up until the last minute.

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Have a back up plan. One year, a winter storm decided to crash the party. Many of my friends lived in the city at the time and had no issue getting to my house, but it did prevent a few of my friends who lived farther away from not making it to the party. Last minute I scrambled to make a side dish and a dessert for the group.  I was able to make a quick green bean casserole and pumpkin pie from ingredients I had in my cabinet. They were both the ingredients for my upcoming family Thanksgiving, so  I had plenty of time to replace them.  Another year, we had friends that were so late they missed the meal. They were also in charge of bringing milk for the group to drink. I wasn’t going to keep 2 gallons of milk and the couple who brought them didn’t think they would drink them, so they were given out to our milk loving friends at the party.  Moral of the story, something always comes up or goes slightly not according to plan.  Think ahead of ways you can plan for guest that cancel due to the flu or crazy weather, to ensure your guests still have a fabulous Friendsgiving meal.

Make the Turkey.  If you are going to host a Friendsgiving, you have to be willing to make the big stuff. Making a turkey that takes several hours to cook is not the item most people will sign up for when coming to a potluck.  I normally make a 25lb turkey and a ham for our Friendsgiving meal, which takes several hours of prep and bake. Being the host means you are fully capable of making these items.  If you are not, then plan ahead and see if you can have a friend who knows how to cook a turkey come early to help, or familiarize yourself with this turkey making basics post.  Also- a few years ago I introduced Ham into the meal and it was a huge hit. People seem to “like” turkey but not enough to eat a ton of it.  Ham was the perfect protein addition for all the potluck items. It also reduced the size of turkey I needed when the number of guests increased.

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Stock up on tupperware containers.  Either you can be like my grandma hoard your cool whip and sour cream containers, wash them and store them throughout the year. Or run to the store and get a few cheap tupperware container sets. Or be an ultimate host and buy a set or two of these containers to send leftovers home with your friends.  As much as people will eat at your Friendsgiving, you will always have a ton of leftovers.  It is just a rule of a holiday celebration, there is more food than anyone can eat. The holidays would not be the same without that standard. The first few years I ended up with all the leftovers, because people left and didn’t take what they brought home.  I finally wised up to the fact that my stomach could not take eating leftover Thanksgiving food for the week leading up to Thanksgiving and then eating it again with my family.  One of my friends would always arrive with her own tupperware to take home leftovers, which got me to think, why don’t I buy containers/save containers to send food home with my friends.  The year I instituted this change, everyone loved me even more than they did for inviting them and I felt much better about Thanksgiving food {and my waistline}.

Don’t go crazy on the Desserts.  You might not have guessed that this was going to be on the list. It sounds really silly to say, don’t make too many desserts, but it is the most critical thing I have learned.  For many years, I evenly requested side dishes, appetizers, salads and dessert on our potluck sign up.  Every year, by the time people were done eating their meal, they didn’t want a slice of pie, cookie or bar. People were stuffed like a Thanksgiving Turkey, and couldn’t handle another bite {see what I did there}!  We all know with the invention of Pinterest, and all of us bloggers, everyone loves to make the fun and creative Thanksgiving themed dessert. Cue pumpkin flavored everything! Take it from experience, don’t go crazy on dessert. Ask only one person, maybe 2 people to bring dessert. Just make sure one of them brings a pumpkin pie, and someone else brings the whipped cream.

Prepare your house the night before.  Contrary to my earlier comment about tidying up at the last minute, I am going to suggest that you get everything ready the night/day before.  I have started prepping my decor, tables, servings dishes, and re-orgnizing my house for a large amount of people the night before. I pull all my servings dishes out of the cabinet and label them for the items that they will be used for and I pull out extras for the friend who bring things in store bought containers. I like food to look homemade in a serving bowl, even if it came from the store.  I like to do all the heavy lifting of furniture and setup of tables prior, so that I can take one last pass with the vacuum and wash rag before I get to decorating.  If all of this is done ahead of time, I feel I have a much calmer pace to making the turkey, cleaning up dishes, and decorating in the morning.  Not to mention, taking a shower before that “early bird” friend arrives. Yup, there have been years that I was running to blow dry my hair and get dressed when that one early friend was arriving to “help”. I also have a tradition of baileys and coffee on Friendsgiving morning, it is the perfect start to the day in my opinion.  This tradition is not one to be rushed either.

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Spend time with your friends.  This one might also sound simple, but it will go a long way to getting them to come back the next year.  I would like to think my friends look forward to my Friendsgiving gathering as much as I do.  Thanksgiving is all about spending time with your family, and being thankful for them in your life. Friendsgiving should be the same, being thankful for all of these amazing people in your life and being thankful two fold that you have found such great people to surround yourself with everyday. I have found years where I have chained myself to the kitchen or ran around like a chicken with my head cut off getting things setup the last minute.  I have found by following the aforementioned hosting tips, that I can spend more time with our guests. I can be enjoying a glass of wine with them while we graze on appetizers because everything is setup before they started arriving. Or hop between tables during the meal because I had all the serving dishes laid out and prepared the night before. The calming feeling of being a host and enjoying an event with your guests is the best feeling.

 

XoXo-

Rachel

 

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About Rachel

Country girl turned urbanite. Finding ways to mess up my kitchen, keep my country roots and explore all that city living offers!

4 thoughts on “How to Host the Ultimate Friendsgiving

  1. Love this idea – never heard the term “Friendsgiving” but what a great idea and you seem organized and have it downpat! And that turkey looks absolutely amazing! I sure hope it is wonderful – you seem prepared which is half the battle!

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