Ahhhh how we love this time of year! Cool weather and all the F's: family, festive, friends, food, firepit, falling leaves, fun. And the best F of all: Friendsgiving, a holiday that has blossomed into a tradition of its own.
There are no hard and fast rules on how to host a potluck Friendsgiving, but there are certainly ways you can make it less stressful and more fun when you follow some simple guidelines. And one of the best things about this fabulous holiday is that your friends get to chip in and help. So read on for some tips, gather your crew, and start planning your own Friendsgiving this year!
Pick the Date and Send Invitations
Text your friends that you want to host Friendsgiving and ask them which weekend in November works best (obviously exclude dates that don't work for you). Go with the date that the majority picks. If you're worried things will get messy trying to combine everyone's schedules, another option is to simply pick the date yourself and hope most of your friends are able to attend. If you decide to do this, we suggest choosing something closer to the beginning of the month. Once you've picked the date, send your invitations via text or email (for a casual vibe) or send an evite or mail cardstock invitations for a more formal approach. Be sure and let your friends know this is a potluck and they'll need to bring a dish.
Divvy up the Duties
As the host of the potluck, your main responsibility is to coordinate who brings what. You can get nerdy and do a shared Google sheet with the dishes that everyone's bringing, or simply send out suggestions and keep track of what's being made. Expect to handle the big items like the turkey (and gravy) and maybe one side, but let your friends fill in the rest. Keeping track of what everyone's bringing will ensure you don't have a duplicates.
Here's a basic list for divvying up the meal:
Sides: Something potato, Stuffing,Something orange (squash, sweet potato, etc.), Something green (green beans, brussels sprouts, etc.), Cranberry, Salad , Rolls/cornbread, Wildcard (Aunt Thelma's world-famous casserole perhaps?)
Desserts: There can never be too many! Let your friends show off their baking skills!
Note: Prepare to receive the bounty! When friends come bearing food, make sure you're adequately prepared with serving platters and utensils. This way, when Hannah arrives with her cousin Sierra's famous cranberry sauce in a plastic container with snap-on lid, you have a pretty dish on which to present it. Add a garnish and you're set!
You've more than likely spent enough time around your friends to know if Ken is gluten-free or Chelsea has a nut allergy, but play it safe and triple-check via group text so you're all on the same page. 'Nuff said.
The Bar Cart
As the host of Friendsgiving, you may opt to make a signature drink or provide wine, but if you don't want to break the bank, ask your friends to bring what they plan to drink. Be sure and provide water with lemons or limes and a couple of non-alcoholic beverages. A cute idea is to fill a glass pitcher with fresh fruit and berries and add ice water; let it sit for a few hours for a delicious and refreshing fruit-infused water. Think berries, slices of watermelon, lemons, limes, even cucumbers! Not only is the water healthy and delicious, but it makes a beautiful presentation.
Set a Pretty Table
Nothing beats a beautiful tablescape! Adorn your table with a festive tablecloth or put a simple runner down the center. For each setting, place a charger, dinner plate, salad plate, water glass, wine glass, cloth napkin, and utensils. If you want to add some formality and a little pizzazz, place a small pumpkin in the center of the plate and add cute name-tags made out of cardstock. Purchase an inexpensive bouquet of seasonal flowers from your local grocery store and make a centerpiece using pumpkins, gourds, flowers, and embellish with greenery from your garden. Light a candle or two, dim the lights, and voilà! You have an elegant and beautiful dinner table!
Background music is a must and will set the tone of your soirée, so a few days before the party, create a playlist and have it playing when people arrive. During dinner, go around the table and ask everyone to say what they're thankful for and encourage them to tell fun family stories. After the meal, crank things back up again with a game if Jenga, Scattergories, What Do You Meme?, Twister, or – depending on the weather – take it outside for a game of cornhole. And speaking of outdoors, everyone loves a good fire-pit! Roast marshmallows fireside or simply enjoy the warmth of everyone's company. The sky's the limit!
The casual vibe of a potluck means the organizer can ask everybody to pitch in to help clean. Group cleaning will also battle the post-turkey crash and is a great way to make room on the table for dessert. Return to the table for dessert or have guests bring their goodies outside to enjoy by the fire. Be sure and remind everyone to grab the dishes and utensils they brought to the party.
Thanksgiving leftovers make amazing parting gifts, plus giving away food eliminates potential waste and spares you from playing fridge-Jenga for the next week. Encourage your friends to bring their own containers, but in case someone forgets, stock up on extras. Opt for eco-friendly paper containers and set up a food-packing station so your friends can easily take what they want.
As with any good potluck, the meal is about sharing everyone's favorite dishes, coming together as a group of friends, and making memories. And with a little planning, Friendsgiving can be stress-free and full of fun, especially when everyone's included on the cooking and cleaning. So, start planning yours now and remember to have FUN!