I attended my first Friendsgiving gathering in college while visiting my boyfriend’s (now my husband!) friends and family in New Orleans for Thanksgiving break. We gathered with a bunch of his friends and shared leftovers from the previous day’s food-drenched festivities. We played games, talked, and generally enjoyed each other’s casual company. It was such a warm and inviting event. One that I knew I wanted to recreate year after year in my own home someday.
Flash forward a decade-and-a-half later, and we have been hosting our own Friendsgiving with our supper club for six years. It is typically a weekend or two before Thanksgiving. Friendsgiving makes for an intentional excuse to hang out with friends and enjoy good food before the insanity of the holidays ensues. The evening always brings back cozy memories of that first Friendsgiving and fills my home and my heart with all the warmth in the world.
It can be intimidating to host a large group event like Friendsgiving! But after several years of gathering under my belt, I have settled into some tried-and-true ways of making this event truly enjoyable for both the host and the guests. My formula for a fantastic Friendsgiving is sure to make a beautiful annual autumnal tradition in your home as well!
The whole point of a Friendsgiving is to host a bunch of your friends, so the first thing you need to do is settle on a number of people and a date! I personally feel like 8-10 people or 4-5 couples makes for a great gathering. It’s enough of a crowd to eat a bunch of potluck-style food, offers plenty of conversation, and can make for a big fun post-dinner game (or can easily break into smaller groups for chatting and board games)!
Once you have settled on your guest list, nail down a date. I have a long-standing love for Doodle, which is a scheduling website. You create a link with potential dates and everyone chooses the dates that work best for them. It can save a ton of back and forth conversations or crazy group texting!
If you are hosting prior to Thanksgiving, it is a great time to try out recipes you intend to make the day of (my husband always considers this his dress rehearsal for the turkey!). If you are hosting after Thanksgiving, it’s a great way to repurpose leftovers! I love getting to try family recipes from all of our friends—it’s a fantastic look into their lives and memories of holiday food. Alternatively, you could plan for a theme unrelated to Thanksgiving so as not to get tired of those flavors too soon. A taco bar, appetizer buffet, or baked potato bar would all be great buffet-style options!
Some of my personal favorite Thanksgiving recipes to make for a Friendsgiving crowd:
I am of the opinion that a delicious-smelling candle and a good playlist can go a long way in creating the ultimate cozy fall Friendsgiving vibe. Scents and sounds are memory makers, so I am also a fan of playlists you use year after year. My current favorite fall entertaining tunes are the Fall Vibes and Pumpkin Spice seasonal playlists on Spotify.
As for place settings, Friendsgiving is typically a less formal event than the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I like to make my atmosphere inviting and playful. I first cover my tables in either butcher paper or a fun kid’s tablecloth (I’ve used this one in the past!), sprinkle some faux fall leaves, write the names of guests directly on the table paper. As for serving? Pretty seasonal paper plates, plasticware, and fun seasonal cups! (I am loving Target’s Spritz line.) Friendsgiving should be FUN and not spent worrying about a stack of dishes at the end of the night!
The General Hosting Guidelines
My ultimate goal in hosting anyone in my home is to make them feel as comfortable as they do in their own home. I want them to enjoy themselves and feel relaxed. I make sure all of the main hosting spaces are relatively free of clutter and that the guest bathroom is clean and stocked and call it good! Striving for perfection in hosting is impossible, but aiming for comfort and enjoyment are two things I can get behind.
At the end of the day, the purpose of Friendsgiving is to gather and enjoy! No one is going to care if your floors are not spotless or if you overcooked the turkey. This celebration is about the people you’re with and the company you keep and celebrating all of that beauty together.