As the aroma of turkey and pie wafts from the kitchen, your mind turns to gratitude for the people you love. And while Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday to spend with the family you're grateful for, chances are your friends are equally important. So why not host a Friendsgiving party either instead of or in addition to Thanksgiving?
There's nothing better than a gathering that's about delicious food and your closest friends. With a little planning and some helpful tips, you can have a fun, fantastic, and low-key Friendsgiving event that's memorable, meaningful, and full of friendly merriment.
Start by Envisioning Your Ideal Party With Friends
As a concept, Friendsgiving is a great one. This is a holiday about sharing food with people who matter to you--your chosen family in a sense. Your actual family can be involved too, of course, but the focus is on friends. There are lots of reasons to celebrate a friend-focused holiday, and there are so many ways to enjoy it. Take a few minutes to think about what you want your party to be like.
- Overall feel - This type of gathering is usually casual, but you can make it a super chill potluck with paper plates or a more structured sit-down dinner.
- Timing - Lunch or dinner is at traditional times for Thanksgiving, but this get-together can be any time. You can even host a Friendsgiving brunch or breakfast.
- Size - How many people do you want at your party? Your guest list could include only a few people or dozens of friends.
Pick a Friendsgiving Theme if You Want One
Your gathering can have a fall theme similar to Thanksgiving, or you can go with something completely different. There are no rules here. If you need some inspiration, consider these theme ideas and party names.
Pie Love You Guys
One of the best parts about Thanksgiving is the pie, and you can carry that delicious pastry joy over to your non-traditional version of the holiday. Host your celebration as a dessert party where everyone brings a different kind of pie. Set your table with the dessert plates from your favorite china if you're feeling fancy, but you can also make this a casual, paper plate affair.
Fall nights are cool and crisp, making them a perfect time to host a bonfire night. Your bonfire party can include campfire foods like kebabs and pie iron pizza, or grilled options like BBQ chicken and burgers. Remind everyone to dress warmly and have lots of cozy blankets for people to wrap up in. Paper plates are perfect for this party, and you can use a picnic table as a buffet.
Sure, turkey is traditional for Thanksgiving, but you don't have to play by those rules for this party. Make it an anti-turkey get-together with vegetarian main course, beef, chicken, or anything else you like. In fact, you can steer clear of the entire traditional Thanksgiving dinner with other types of food like tacos, egg rolls, sushi, or whatever sounds delicious to everyone. Make your plans clear on the invitation, especially if you're holding a potluck.
Favorite Food Potluck
Everyone has a favorite food, and it can be really fun to share those special dishes with people you care about. Consider hosting a favorite food potluck where everyone brings something they love to eat. The foods won't necessarily go together (think baklava and California rolls), but the whole meal will be meaningful and fun. You can have people bring food in specific categories if you want to make sure it's not all sweets.
Volunteer, Then Veg
Thanksgiving is about gratitude, and Friendsgiving can be too. You can put your own spin on that theme by volunteering as a group at a local food bank, homeless shelter, or anywhere else that feels meaningful to you. Then, head back to your place to veg out in front of a great movie. You'll need plenty of easy and TV-friendly finger food options, since people will be hungry after working together. Pizza is a great choice, as are veggies and dip, nachos, brownies, cookies, and anything else you can eat with your hands.
Friendsgiving is often a potluck, which takes some of the stress out of hosting. It's not always easy for people to decide what to bring, however. One fun way to do it is to have people bring something that starts with the first letter of their name. For example, someone named Emily can bring egg rolls, and someone named Taylor can bring tacos. You'll get an eclectic range of foods. Set up a buffet table and hang letters of the alphabet for decorations.
Friendsgiving Game Night
There's nothing better than a great game night with friends, and your party can be all about games. You can go with your favorite board games, classics from childhood, or even yard games if you're partying outside. There are lots of games that are perfect for Friendsgiving, and you can follow up with a potluck buffet. Decorations can be giant game pieces made of cardboard, checkerboard tablecloths, or just your traditional fall get-together decor.
If you and your friends have time for an overnight, a pajama party can be the perfect choice. While what you wear for Friendsgiving is usually going to be casual and comfy anyway, pajamas take the guesswork out of choosing an outfit. You can also carry the pajama party theme into your decorations, spreading lots of fall-colored pillows around the room and having plenty of cozy blankets for people to use to curl up and watch a movie together.
Send Out Friendsgiving Party Invitations
Give everyone plenty of advance notice by sending out invitations a few weeks ahead of time. In most cases, six weeks gives everyone enough time to plan. What you say on your Friendsgiving invitations should include the basics of where and when the party will be, but you can carry your theme into this part of your hosting as well. Choose an invitation that matches the style of party you plan to host and make sure you include any special instructions about what to wear or bring.
You can send a paper invitation through the regular mail or keep it super casual with a text or email invite. Either way, try to set the tone for your party with your invitation style and wording.
Plan the Menu and Who's Bringing What
Now that you have a theme and a date, you can concentrate on one of the most important aspects of Friendsgiving: the food. Your theme may dictate special food items, such as finger foods, tacos, pizza, or something else. Or you may go the traditional route with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the classic fixings. There are lots of great Friendsgiving food ideas that can work for any celebration.
Just because you're hosting this party doesn't mean you have to cook everything yourself. In fact, it's common to hold a potluck with friends where everyone brings a dish to share. You can chat with guests ahead of time about specific dishes you need. It's a good idea to have a Friendsgiving sign-up sheet, too, so there isn't a lot of overlap in what people bring; otherwise, you can end up with eight desserts and no main course.
Mix Up a Batch of Cocktails
As the host, you may want to take on the cocktails yourself. Cocktail ingredients don't always travel well, and drinks are an easy thing for you to make ahead. There are lots of Friendsgiving cocktails to try. You can make them up in a large batch and then have ice and garnishes handy to complete them when guests arrive.
You can also offer a non-alcoholic option in the form of fall-themed mocktails. This is a considerate and festive way to celebrate with friends who may not be drinking alcohol at your party.
Get Out Your Friendsgiving Decorations
When the day of the party arrives, break out your favorite decorations. Your theme may dictate certain items to include, but if not, there are lots of ways to make your home festive and inviting for friends. Try these decor ideas.
Hang a Friendsgiving Banner
Make or buy a "Happy Friendsgiving" banner to hang by your front door. You can make an easy banner by using white paint pens to write on black cardboard squares in a chalkboard style. Bonus points if you can emulate the font from the classic Friends TV show.
Pick a Color Scheme
If you want a sophisticated look, choose a color scheme for your decorations. You can pick something traditional like shades or orange and yellow, or you can go with a fresh choice like sage green or blue or pink. Choose your dishes, tablecloth, napkins, and anything else to match the color scheme. This can be an affordable decor idea, since you can base the color scheme on dishes and linens you may already own.
Break Out the Fall Decorations
Get out your best fall-themed decorations for Friendsgiving. You can use gourds, fall leaves, bouquets of autumn flowers, or anything else that makes your home feel festive for the party. Try some cozy additions like plaid blankets and soft throw pillows in fall colors too.
Assemble a Centerpiece
Your party doesn't have to be formal to have a centerpiece. In fact, you can do something as simple as putting a pedestal cake plate on your table and topping it with a pile of mini gourds. Consider a pretty fall bouquet, a beautiful cake or pie that everyone will enjoy for dessert, or a chalkboard sign welcoming everyone to the party. There's no wrong way to make a centerpiece, as long as you keep it casual and fun.
Make It Easy to Share Photos From the Party
With everyone getting together, this type of party makes a great photo op. Your friends will want to take and share fun photos from the event. You can make this easy by setting aside a small area with a nice background for selfies. This doesn't have to be anything fancy - just enough room to take photos by the decorations or table. Then everyone can use their pictures and Friendsgiving captions to connect with people who couldn't make it to the event.
Host Friendsgiving the Low-Stress Way
The secret to hosting a Friendsgiving you can actually enjoy involves a little planning and plenty of delegating. Let friends bring food and even decorations. Keep things simple but fun. Ultimately, a relaxed host is one of the key elements of a great party. If you can keep things chill, everyone will have fun, and Friendsgiving will be your new favorite holiday.