The holidays in 2021 will be a lot different this year - in a good way.
Last year, so much of the world was still battling the pandemic, which meant a lot of people not getting to see our family and friends. As more and more people travel and get back to normal, that means celebrating the holidays even more than usual.
But not everyone has family they get to see, which is why Friendsgiving is a good way to fill the family void. Plus, hanging out with a close group of friends to eat and drink is never a bad idea. Hollywood even made a movie about this “holiday” (appropriately titled Friendsgiving) so I guess the new tradition is here to stay.
As you host your first Friendsgiving during the holidays, here are some of our best tips for hosting a group of friends for the holidays and giving them a day to remember.
Hosting a Friendsgiving - What You Need to Know
If you’re taking on the role of host this year, we want to help make it as easy and fun as possible.
Pick The Right Date and Time
To make sure your celebration is a success, start by picking the right date and time. Since Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, it’s usually best to put on the event the week before.
The Wednesday before the holiday is usually one of the most traveled days of the year, so expect many people to be out of town. Plus, the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday so that pretty much rules out the actual week of the holiday. That’s why the weekend before is perfect.
Once you get a date that works for your group, schedule a time that is convenient for everyone. Usually, around 4 or 5pm works great because people can do their normal life routines, cook, and then you have plenty of time for a long dinner.
Send Invites As Early As Possible
Once the date is dialed in, get those invites out as soon as possible! The earlier you can reach out to friends, the higher the chances are you will have a full table.
Don’t forget, people love to procrastinate, so plan ahead so you can make sure your party is a success. In your invite, make sure to ask about any plus ones so you have a total headcount to start making your shopping list.
Once everyone is confirmed, I suggest starting a group text, a shared note on your iOS device, Facebook group, or some other piece of technology to coordinate with everyone. This will make it easier to communicate if anything changes, what to wear, bring, etc.
Plus, make sure to send a few reminders as the big day gets closer. This will make sure you have enough food in case people bring other friends.
Choose a Theme (Optional)
If you want your holiday celebration to stand out, add a theme to it. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but something to make for some funny pictures and create an awesome tradition.
For example, you could all wear a specific color, all wear shirts with your favorite sports team, or something else. Or, if you do one to bring friends together for Christmas, opt for ugly sweaters and give a prize out for the most “ugly” aka awesome sweater.
Nail Down the Menu
When most people think of Friendsgiving, they think of normal Thanksgiving food. You know, turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc. If that’s what you want to stick with the normal, have at it, as people love the traditional Thanksgiving cuisine.
But if you’re not the biggest fan of it or just want to mix it up, why not have a different menu entirely? Why not have an Italian, Mexican, Indian, BBQ or other type of food to spice things up?
If you do opt for non-traditional food, just make sure to let everyone know the theme in advance. The last thing you want is one of your guests not able to eat most of the food and end up hungry.
While planning the meal, also make sure to ask your friends about any food allergies, vegetarian/vegan choices, or any other health related issues. This will make sure everyone can enjoy themselves and don’t have to worry about leaving a Friendsgiving event hungry.
It is customary for the host to take care of the main dish and maybe a few sides, while the rest of the guests help bring the rest.
Have Everyone Bring A Side Dish
If you’re in charge of planning, getting your house ready, inviting people, and cooking, it’s a lot of work. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to not try and do it all yourself. Instead, ask everyone for some help so you don’t get overwhelmed and it becomes more hassle than it's worth.
To take some burden off you, make sure to have everyone bring a dish, easy items like rolls, and drinks of their own. Not only will this help you on the big day, it will make it feel more like a team effort for the guests. Plus, they’ll probably bring some sides, desserts, or drinks that are new for everyone and maybe even a delicious family recipe.
Don’t Forget About Drinks and Dessert
While I’m sure you won’t forget about the main dish or dishes and sides, don’t forget about drinks and desserts too. You can plan these or include them in your communication channel to outsource them to a guest or two.
If you’re going with a standard Thanksgiving menu, some of the most common desserts include pie (pumpkin/pecan), jello, and other desserts. And if you’re switching up cuisines, keep the theme too. If you’re going with Italian, have someone grab some cannolis or cheesecake.
For drinks, make sure to specify what you will have and what others should bring. For example, you could tell everyone that you’ll have water, soda, beer, and wine. If they want to bring any champagne, hard liquor, or personal choices, they can bring them too.
Once the menu is nailed down, start planning ahead to make the day of Friendsgiving a much easier process. Here are some things to consider:
- Kitchen supplies and decorations. This could include things like a nice tablecloth, extra chairs, paper plates, disposable bowls, cups, napkins, etc. Also, don’t forget about non-essentials like candles, Bluetooth speaker for music, balloons, table decor, and anything else to make the environment feel welcoming to new guests. Plus, having plates and bowls you can throw away will make cleaning up so much easier.
- To-go containers. If you’re like most people, chances are you will have a ton of leftovers too. Instead of sending them with your favorite Tupperware, buy a bulk disposable set of containers that you won’t mind parting ways with.
Prepare For The Big Day
To make sure you aren’t stressed and overwhelmed all day leading up to dinner, plan ahead as much as possible. If you aren’t sure how much to buy of your main dish, when in doubt, buy extra. Thanksgiving is all about over indulging, so make sure there are plenty of leftovers.
Also, make sure to go to the store a day before or two days before your event so you can make sure everything is in stock. If something isn't available, it gives you an extra day to adjust the menu or try a different grocery store.
On the big day, make sure to clean/decorate the house, start cooking early, get the drinks cold, buy some bags of ice, and confirm all details with your group. Also, make sure you will have enough oven space if multiple people will need to use it.
Once guests start to arrive, welcome everyone with something as they enter your home, such as an appetizer, themed cocktails or a glass of champagne.
Plan After Food Activities
Once the feast is over, don’t just send everyone home just yet. Instead, have some games or fun activities ready to make the most of the occasion.
Some of the most entertaining is Cards Against Humanity or other funny game sets that you can find on Amazon. Or, if the weather allows it, you can play some games outdoors like corn hole or something.
This is a fun way to digest from the epic feast and end a great day!
Hopefully, these tips help you start a tradition for years or decades to come.
The biggest key to planning a great Friendsgiving celebration is to plan ahead and make sure that others help out. Do not try to plan, invite, cook, and entertain all by yourself… This is almost certainly a recipe for disaster.
Also, while it’s a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving, this fun gathering of friends also works for Christmas too. Since a lot of people don’t always travel to see friends/family, it’s a good way to include your friends in December too.
Happy holidays from your friends at True Classic Tees!