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Whether it’s your first holiday in your new post-grad apartment, or the first one away from your family in your college town, odds are you’re gearing up for the holiday season. And for many of us, this might be our first Thanksgiving away from our family. Well, let me introduce you to Friendsgiving!
If you’re not familiar with the concept, it could be considered the “Thanksgiving of millennials,” as you celebrate the holiday with close friends rather than family and traditional formalities.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Trust me – Friendsgiving is great, as I’ve attended several over the years, but I’ve never hosted one until this year. And because I know you want to learn all about this holiday, I chronicled how I prepared for my event so you can follow these 6 easy tips for hosting your first Friendsgiving!
1) Follow the Buddy System
Hosting your first Friendsgiving can seem like a daunting task. In order to keep the celebration carefree and enjoyable, my roommate teamed up on hosting duties. using the buddy system allowed us to share the responsibilities and keep the day fun. If you don’t have a roommate, find a friend from work, a significant other, or anyone who’s opinion on food you trust.
Once you’ve got your hosting buddy, holding a Freindsgiving gets much easier. Simply pick out who you want attending your party. There is no perfect size for a your party, as it depends upon what you want. For me, I wanted enough space for everyone to be able to sit down for dinner in my apartment, and this meant that we could only host 8-10 people. I then created a “Friendsgiving” Facebook group where I sent my invitations and utilized the ability to send reminders about the event when the date got close.
Pro Tip: Pick a weekend day. Not only will this probably work best with everyone’s schedule, but you’ll also save yourself from stressing about how to cook and clean quickly after work.
2) Make it a Potluck
Before you begin stressing about how to feed 10 people or how everything will fit in your oven, remember this is supposed to be a more relaxed event. It’s about enjoying good food in the company of great friends rather than a traditional Thanksgiving. So instead of getting bogged down in the logistics of preparing a proper Thanksgiving meal, divide and conquer with your friends. That’s right: the key to a successful Friendsgiving is making it a potluck.
Invite each of your friends to bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish to the table and be prepared to be surprised by what arrives. As the host, you should probably take care of the turkey, gravy, and a dessert, then let your friends get creative in bringing the sides. If you have a friend that doesn’t (or can’t!) cook, encourage them to bring items that are easy to buy like beverages.
Pro Tip: If you are worried about having duplicate sides, ask your friends to let you know what they are bringing so you can plan accordingly – use your Friendsgiving Facebook group. For me, having a starchy side, vegetable side, and some sort of casserole or dressings are the main staple dishes I wanted to make sure were covered.
3) Call your Mom and/or Make Google Your New Best Friend
I’ll be the first to admit that the actual preparation of the turkey was most daunting about hosting Friendsgiving for the first time. Thankfully, I quickly learned that everything can be figured out by either the internet or a phone call with my mother (or trusted family member). And for my first turkey roasting experience, it took a little (OK, a lot) of both.
After one phone call with my mother, I learned the golden rule of turkey selection: You determine the size of turkey you need by estimating a pound of turkey per person attending. Hence, my Friendsgiving of 8-10 people required a 10-pound bird. While surfing the internet, I found this great infographic that helps determine how long your turkey needs to cook in the oven.
Pro Tip: It’s OK not to know how to do something. Focus on how and where you can learn the information you need to know to make your event successful.
4) Go Green with Your Table Decor
No Friendsgiving is complete without table décor, but the trick is to do it on a budget. There are plenty of options for creating DIY Thanksgiving décor from scratch, but I would encourage you to look around your home and see what you have already to use. For my roommate and I, this meant coffee cans, as we love coffee. We gave these cans new life by spray painting them a dark brown color and turning them into vases.
Since we held our Friendsgiving after Halloween, we found pumpkins and other gourds on sale. We turned one pumpkin into our centerpiece by hollowing it out and placing flowers inside.
Pro Tip: Look for flowers that are in season, as this will make them cheaper! Also placing eucalyptus (usually found for $3!) on each place setting will make your event look earthy and chic.
5) Play a Game!
Like I mentioned before, Friendsgiving is all about having fun. So take time to think of fun things to do with your friends. It can be as simple as making a toast of what each person is thankful for, or playing board or card game before (or after!) the meal.
Pro Tip: Remember – this is Friendsgiving. The day can be as formal or informal as you want it to be. If you choose to go super informal, don’t be afraid to make a photo booth area.
6) Share the Leftovers and the Cleanup
Just like you shared the workload of the meal by making it a potluck, share the cleanup responsibilities as well. So after you’ve eaten your Friendsgiving Feast, divide both the leftovers and the dirty dishes evenly among everyone. Have your friends help you clean the dishes, turn on some great music, and get everyone involved. Not only does this make the clean-up go faster, but it also can make for a fantastic impromptu karaoke party.
Everyone that helps in the clean-up can take home some of the leftovers. To minimize the number of dishes used, have your friends take the leftovers home in the containers they used to bring their food.
Pro Tip: Fill a bucket with water and soap and hand-wash the dishes. This will help reduce the water wasted and make the cleanup process faster, rather than waiting for a slow dishwasher.