Thanksgiving is, of course, about taking time to give thanks to what matters most in life. And while it is typical to spend Thanksgiving with family, it’s becoming more and more popular to supplement that tradition with a secondary celebration reserved just for friends to celebrate the special platonic ties in our lives—or, at the very least, because pigging out with friends sounds much more appealing than having to sit next to your racist uncle at the dinner table.
Organizing a bomb dinner party is easier said than done, so here is a guide on how to put together the perfect Friendsgiving.
If you don’t already have one, make a group chat. Coordinate on who is bringing what, and, if you feel like being extra, make a spreadsheet so people have a clear visual of what is being brought to the table—namely, a helluva lot of food. This will eradicate the possibility that three different people will bring mashed potatoes, or that other Thanksgiving staples are not forgotten.
It’s also a good idea to create a Facebook page in addition to the group chat, as it allows guests easy access to the start time and location of the shin-dig so they don’t have to dig through dozens of group chat messages to find it. This will also provide an RSVP list
If you’re hosting, decide whether or not you’re going to let people use your kitchen. If yes, communicate with your guests to ensure you have everything they need. Guests: Do understand that some people consider it a faux pas to use the host’s kitchen to prepare meals for potlucks, but ultimately it depends on your relationship. In the end, just ask and be sure to clean up your mess!
It’s a good idea to have two separate start times: One for when people can begin to arrive, and one for when the meal starts. This will create a “final deadline” for the people who always arrive late, and will cure any awkward antsy-ness about when people can start eating. It’s especially important to have two different start times if people will be cooking at the house.
Make Sure Everyone Brings Actual Food
An assortment of chips and cookies might work for your Super Bowl Party, but it certainly won’t do for Friendsgiving. It doesn’t matter if you don’t cook on the other 364 days of the year—Friendsgiving is the one occasion where you must. The success of the dinner depends on it.
Cooking may seem daunting, but the internet is full of recipes, so it’s not hard to find one within your skill range—most recipes come with difficulty ratings, anyway. Pinterest is an obvious source, but I personally prefer Food Network’s website, which currently boasts an awesome Thanksgiving themed page.
Accommodate for Your Friends’ Dietary Needs
A big part of Friendsgiving is the food, and the last thing you want is anyone feeling left out just because they have certain restrictions to their diet. If someone’s lactose intolerant, make sure that the menu doesn’t consist of 98% dairy products. If your friend can’t eat pork, consider leaving the bacon bits out of the mac and cheese.
While providing a variety of options and catering to your friends dietary needs should be easy enough, what truly takes special care is avoiding cross contamination.
One mistake could lead to an allergic reaction. If someone was thoughtful enough to provide two pies, one with regular crust and the other with gluten free crust, and someone uses the same knife to cut both, then the gluten free pie has been contaminated and can no longer be consumed by your celiac friend. Dishes and utensils must be kept clean. If a surface touches a contaminant, it has been contaminated and could potentially cause an allergic reaction.
If any of your friends have allergy concerns, talk to them about how you can build a safe environment for them. This could include making hypo-allergenic versions of dishes or provided two sticks of butter, one which can be cross contaminated, and the other which cannot. People with dietary concerns are often afraid to speak up out of fear of being a burden, so it will mean a lot to them if you stop to take the time to ask questions. Seriously, the last thing you want to do is pull an EpiPen out on Friendsgiving!
Set the Table
Of course, you want to have the table set before the guests arrive and ensure everyone has a place at the table. Leave a pitcher of water and/or wine on the table so guests don’t have to continuously leave the table to get a beverage. Have at least one stick of butter, a pair of salt and pepper shakers, and a basket of rolls on the table for easy access.
Don’t be afraid to use paper plates, cups, or towels either. Using these as opposed to traditional dining ware will make cleanup a lot easier. Furthermore, places like Wal-mart sell plenty of cute Thanksgiving paper plates and napkins, which add a fun festive flair. Just be sure to leave additional napkins on the table for when things get messy.
However, if you’re going for a more sophisticated look, stick with real plates and napkins. Not only are they classier, they’re also sturdier. They will take more time to clean, but there’s no shame in asking your guests to take a minute to take a minute to put away their dishes when they’re finished so you’re not stuck with the bulk of the burden. These people are your friends, after all!
These are my tips for having the most spectacular Friendsgiving. We hope you have the time of your life with friends and family giving thanks!