Do you remember that first Thanksgiving episode of Friends? “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”? I know there are two groups of you right now. Group 1: “yesofcourseIloveFriendsOMGFriendsisthebest!” and Group 2: “Not really. Maybe? I never got into Friends that much”. Ok, for Group 2, all you need to know is that everyone had big Thanksgiving plans, and they all fell through, so the gang (yeah I said it, the gang) all gathered at Monica and Rachel’s for a Thanksgiving of friends and even though everything went wrong and Joey has syphilis and they ended up eating grilled cheese, everything is perfect.
Friends Thanksgiving sounds kind of nice, doesn’t it? The thing is, that as life goes on, things happen. Babies, new jobs, new houses, living in new states or maybe even countries. Maintaining and investing in friendships is an essential element of wellness, but not many of us live just across the hall from our closest friends. It’s easy to let those friendships fall away first, telling ourselves that our friends will always be there and we will reconnect with them when we have time. But then that time doesn’t come around very often does it?
Most of us spend Thanksgiving with our families, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving all season (really all year). Thanksgiving can be whenever you want it to be, and it’s the perfect time to give thanks for all the wonderful friendships in your life, and the perfect way to reconnect with all of them. Everyone brings their family’s secret-recipe contribution to the standard Thanksgiving meal and the day and delicious food does what they do best: become the perfect medium for love and laughter.
This weekend, the hubs and I got to spend a Saturday at the perfect Friendsgiving. It was so great that I thought I would take a minute to share few tips to make sure you throw the perfect Friendsgiving, where even if you had to eat grilled cheese, it would still be perfect. Some of these tips are from the lovely hostess herself!
The Guest List
- Invite whoever you want! This isn’t the type of event where you need to worry about whether people in this group of friends know people in that group of friends. As the host, be sure to mingle with everyone, introduce anyone who might not know everyone, and spend a little extra time with any guests that don’t know your other guests as well as they all know each other.
- If the event is taking place in your home, make sure it’s ready for an influx of a lot of people (and kids too if you and/or your friends have made a few mini-mes).
- Have plenty of extra toilet paper each bathroom that your guests may be using.
- Create a space away from the kitchen and dining area that all the kids can use to run around in. Extra points if they have an indoor space and an outdoor space.
- Depending on the day and time of year and the crowd, you might have a game on the TV in the background. Let’s face it, if there’s a game on and there are men (ok, women too) at your party, they’re going to be watching the game on their phones if you don’t have it on the TV. So save them the effort. If sporting events aren’t a concern, get some music going! I probably don’t need to tell you how quiet a room full of people can seem without a little music to spice things up. Consider a playlist on Pandora or Spotify, or your own party people playlist.
- Don’t fear the potluck! This can be one of the best parts of Friendsgiving: let everyone bring the dish that they make best whether that’s a traditional stuffing or a less traditional kale salad. You should make the turkey and gravy though.
- Both turkey and gravy can be made ahead of time. Roast and carve the turkey the day before and slice it (brining the turkey before hand is a must! Pick up a brining bag at Bed Bath and Beyond). Then you can just keep the carved turkey in a tightly sealed aluminum pain and reheat the slices on the day of the event. That way you don’t have to worry about cooking or slicing the turkey, so you have more time to talk to your guests.
- You don’t have to just use your oven to reheat food. Also consider crock pots, which can help you keep the food warm until everyone is ready to sit down and chow down. Make sure you don’t flip that breaker if you’re using lots of crock pots though!
- If you’re going to have a large number, go ahead and accept the idea of using heavy duty paper plates and plastic utensils. Remember, these are your friends, and not the aunt that’s expecting you to use those China plates she got you for your wedding. Make it easy on yourself!
- If some of your guests are little, have a kids table for dinner.
- First of all, you’re with friends, not Grandma, so enjoy not feeling judged when you go for the second glass of wine. If that sounds right up your alley, have options for yourself and your guests, let your guests know that they are welcome to bring whatever they’d prefer and have a cooler ready so that you don’t lose precious fridge space.
- Have plenty one beverage- a fun, festive, and easy cocktail- for those who aren’t quite sure and that you can offer as soon as they walk through the door. That might be a homemade sangria, punch, or cranberry cocktail. If you are into brewing, this is the perfect occasion for homemade hard apple cider!
- Have lots of different non-alcoholic options available for your guests including soda and water.
- Don’t waste beer (or wine or whatever)! Buy some disposable cups/glasses and have a sharpie available so that guests (and you!) can write their names on the beverages so that no one loses their drink and opens another one, leaving you with more dishes or trash to take care of.
- Ask your guests for help. Of course you’ll be taking some pictures, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of focusing so much on the pictures that you forget to actually notice what’s going on around you. Ask a few guests to take pictures during various times of the day. Maybe find that guest that is always asking what they can do to help even though the food is all already made 🙂 This will free you up to mingle more and will give you pictures from different view points. And they might even surprise you with a few fun selfies while they’re at it!
- After dinner is done, be ready with some fun activities in case your guests are ready to do something besides chat. Some activity ideas:
- Card games (poker, euchre)
- Board games (Catch Phrase is a fun one for a big group!)
- Outdoor games (corn hole, can jam)
- If there’s a game on TV, you’re done!
Are you throwing or going to a Friendsgiving this year? Is it a tradition you’re already a part of? What are your favorite things about it?