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Whether you’re looking for an excuse to throw a dinner party or looking for a way to express how thankful you are for your friendships–and no, they aren’t mutually exclusive–Friendsgiving is the “holiday” for you.
Some of us live far from our families and can’t afford to fly/drive/hitchhike home for the holiday; others want to double up on the gluttony. Maybe you want a Thanksgiving of your own this year, free of family drama. Friendsgiving is a time to enjoy the friends who make up your second family. If this is your first try at Friendsgiving, here’s a fast and dirty guide to becoming the hostess with the mostess.
Do people still say that? Whatever. Let’s get planning!
Step 1: Nail down the details
Even the most spontaneous free spirit can’t throw an impromptu Friendsgiving. She’s likely to have guests with prior engagements or hectic holiday shifts. You don’t need to mail out a formal invitation, but do create something to shoot out to your guests in advance. A private Facebook event or group will work just as well.
Think of the venue. You don’t need to actually rent an event hall, but if you’re living in a 400 square foot studio then you might not want to have the whole crew over for dinner. Instead, consider borrowing your bestie’s spacious place for the night (as long as she’s invited, of course). Even if you’re hosting the event at your friend’s house, you should probably keep the guest list pretty intimate. Invite no more than ten of your closest friends.
Once you’ve nailed down a location, come up with a date and time. The beauty of Friendsgiving is that it falls on any day you want it to. Keep in mind that scheduling your event on Thanksgiving Day might cause some of your guests to politely decline the invite. Friendsgiving is still Friendsgiving if it falls after the original turkey day!
Step 2: Design or delegate the menu
You have two options here. I won’t make the call for you, but your personality and budget may pull you in a particular direction:
Plan A: Plan and cook the meal all by yourself.
This is the most expensive route, but it’s very appealing to the type-A party planner…with a capable kitchen. Obviously, Plan A isn’t the way to go if your workspace is no larger than the cupboard under the stairs. But if your nickname is Julia Child and you have a certain vision for the feast, then take care of the food by yourself. Be sure to provide dishes for your friends with allergies and other dietary restrictions.
It goes without saying that Plan A will require some serious work; if this is your path, then don’t carry the rest of the responsibilities. If you’re cooking–and paying for–all of the food, let your guests take care of the rest. How are you supposed to go on a liquor run if you’re monitoring the turkey?
Plan B: Teamwork makes the dream work.
This is my personal choice. As the host, you’ll be responsible for cooking the main course, as that big bird will be a pain in the ass to transport. Do Friendsgiving dinner potluck style; this is a more casual (and affordable) approach to preparing the feast. This is where having a Facebook event page will come in handy.
Delegate desserts and side dishes to your guests, in addition to the extras that everyone seems to forget, such as bagged ice. The upside? You can focus on other aspects of the party, such as decoration and curating the perfect party playlist. Your friends will bring their Thanksgiving faves, which may be a new dish you’ve never tried before. The downside? You can’t really call dibs on the leftovers.
When it comes to event planning, I’m a healthy (?) mix of frugal and type-A. I like to exert a certain amount of control over the event, but I don’t want to serve an arm and a leg at the table. Go with the plan that suits you the best.
Step 3: Come up with the after-dinner activities.
What will everyone do as they digest the delicious Friendsgiving feast? That is up to you. Hopefully, these ideas will help you brainstorm.
Kick off the night with some karaoke.
There’s no better time to belt out some off-key Beyonce than after you’re full of food and a glass or three of wine.
Take the party elsewhere.
Bored at home? Go mobile! Grab some fro-yo for second dessert (which should totally be a thing) or go bar hopping. You could even go on a storefront camping trip for Black Friday. And if you end up spending the rest of the night on the town, make sure you end up at Waffle House. Because…Waffle House.
Heckle Hallmark holiday movies.
Say that five times fast. Hop on Netflix and put on the cheesiest, gushiest Christmas movie Lifetime or Hallmark has to offer. Crack jokes along the way–you can even make a drinking game out of it.
Share what you’re thankful for.
This is pretty classic Thanksgiving fare, but it doesn’t mean you can’t apply it to your Friendsgiving night. Besides, you can include stuff you wouldn’t say around your family. I totally wouldn’t judge you if you said you were thankful that Starbucks released the Pumpkin Spice Latte earlier this year.
Step 4: Spruce yourself (and your apartment) up for the party!
No matter how much your friends don’t seem to care about your perpetually cluttered apartment, you should. A day or two before your party, give your living space a good, thorough clean. In order to prevent day-of disasters and last-minute Walmart runs, stock up on what you know you’ll need (napkins and take-home Tupperware) and stuff you might not think twice about (toilet paper).
Last but definitely not least: spruce yourself up! You are the hostess after all, and whether you’re throwing a low-key dinner potluck or a more formal get-together, you’re still hosting a dinner party. This is an excuse to dress up yourself and your home. Decorate your table with gold-painted mini pumpkins; decorate yourself with a dazzling gold pair of earrings. Whether you believe it or not, hosting a dinner party is one item on the Adulting Checklist, and even the most chill Friendsgiving totally counts.