The One Where We Invite Friends

Celebrate gratitude in style by hosting a hassle-free Friendsgiving

By Lizzie Cawley

Before the most intense, food-obsessed Thursday of the year, get into your Zen space and imagine your best friends gathering to sip drinks and enjoy stimulating conversation. Then envision each of them bringing a delightful dish to share. Enter: Friendsgiving. This unique get-together is often celebrated as a precursor or even in lieu of the classic Thanksgiving meal, but this one allows you to be your best self since ill-mannered relatives, begging dogs and tantruming toddlers are not on the guest list.

While Friendsgiving’s origin is uncertain (the holiday dinners on the TV show Friends were not actually called Friendsgiving), the gathering has been growing in popularity since 2007, especially among millennials. Perhaps we should thank Twitter for popularizing the term.

Divide and conquer
With Friendsgiving, you can show friends a good time while utilizing the tried-and-true potluck system. Often planned for the weekend before Thanksgiving, the host’s main duty is to prepare the centerpiece dish (which surprise, surprise, does not have to be turkey, but if it is, consider an alternative preparation style so as not to compete with the upcoming family holiday). For a fun, zesty shake-up, prepare a spatchcocked turkey with a pomegranate or peach-rosemary glaze. Then assign your guests sides and desserts (potatoes, salad, pie) as desired while encouraging twists on classic preparations. Also ask that each dish come with or in an attractive serving dish. This will reduce the host’s time spent on meal prep and cleanup.

Good spirits
Friendsgiving is the perfect occasion to concoct a unique cocktail. Think apple cider mimosa, a thyme maple bourbon smash, a grilled peach Old Fashioned or an apple gin martini: all perfect ways to break out of the mold. If you have a sommelier in your circle of friends, then the day’s wine selection might best be left to him or her. Otherwise, ask guests to bring a favorite wine or beverage of choice. Not only will your group experience a variety of sips that way, but the selections act as a conversation starter. Let’s face it, finding a wine to go with a flavorful meal like Friendsgiving gives you a wide range of choices.

Set the scene
Celebrate fall by pulling out your festive candles and custom place settings to create a cozy environment. Or, if the weather is warm enough, consider dining outdoors at a comfy picnic table or with dining furniture moved outside. Swap the linen tablecloth for butcher paper and wine glasses for Mason jars. Put the focus on food and keep decorations minimal—an eye-catching centerpiece will do the trick. Oh, and your favorite tunes humming in the background keeps the mood bright. A Friendsgiving playlist should be as eclectic and personal as your meal.

Let it go!
Here’s the bottom line: Friendsgiving should not be“stress-giving.” Just be sure that the drinks and conversation flow. Not in the mood to dress up? Why not request a dress code theme or relaxed attire (ahem, plaid pajamas). A natural connection with your guests will come with shared tasks and spiced cider. Keep the crowd on the smaller side and the guest list intentional.
If a Thanksgiving feast is the epitome of a traditional American meal then Friendsgiving can be a catalyst for new traditions!

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