08 Nov Top Tips for a Fun and Easy Friendsgiving
Are you going to be away from home for Thanksgiving? Would you like to plan a special time to celebrate with your friends outside the confines (and stressors) that come with traditional family gatherings? As part of a military family, many of our Thanksgiving celebrations have been Friendsgiving, celebrations away from family, spent with friends who feel like family. Friendsgiving can also be a fun celebration with friends, because let’s face it, family holidays can be stressful. Whether you’re hosting a Friendsgiving because you can’t get home or because you want to celebrate your friendships, here are my top tips to help make it a success, and maybe even a new tradition.
1. Decide on a Theme
Do you want your Friendsgiving to be traditional? Casual? A chance to share family favorites or to try new recipes that would not be well-received at Grandma’s table? Do you want to host a vegetarian event? Encourage wine pairings? Decide in advance and let your friends know or ask for a consensus and proceed accordingly.
2. Create an On-Line Sign Up
Prevent having an overload of any one dish and a lack of another by creating a list of items you’ll need for your big event. Use GoogleDocs or something similar for your friends to sign up. You can either set a specific menu or set general categories. For example, you could set a space for “Pumpkin Pie” (specific menu) or “Dessert” (general category).
3. Be prepared for leftovers.
Stock up on take-away containers and aluminum foil for friends to take home leftovers. This could be a good assignment for your less-culinarily inclined friends.
4. Get the leftovers packed and chilled soon after you eat.
There’s nothing friendly or gratitude-worthy about picking up a food borne illness from noshing on food that was left out too long. Check out my post on making sure your turkey is tasty and safe to eat here.
5. Decide how available your kitchen is going to be for your friends to to prep their food and let them know well in advance.
I have had guests arrive with the ingredients to prepare their dish in my already-maxed-out kitchen. It seems obvious, but you may want to make it clear that items need to be ready to serve or with minor assembly.
6. Bring in your coolers.
Chill wine and other beverages in coolers rather than taking up valuable refrigerator space. Use them for packed leftovers that won’t fit into the refrigerator.
7. Have extra serving utensils on hand
Ask friends to bring serving tools necessary to go with their dish, but just in case they get left behind, be prepared with serving spoons, slotted spoons, pie servers, and tongs. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. These are items you can likely borrow from others who don’t need these items until Thanksgiving-proper. You can also check out thrift shops for fun or interesting serving pieces that you can collect for future events. Serving utensils are usually pretty space-efficient and each new piece can act as a souvenir
8. Encourage people to bring their family favorites.
If you can’t make it home for the holiday, this might be just the right tip. When were were stationed far from home during our military years, our friends became our family. At one of my favorite Friendsgiving, we had stuffings that represented traditions from all over the country. Sharing my grandmother Hon’s stuffing and tasting my friend Rachel’s Big Mama’s recipe was like bringing our collective family histories and love. It can be hard to celebrate the holidays away from home, but having a taste of those flavors and sharing them with friends, is true comfort and food for the soul.
9. If you have pets, you may want to put them in a separate area until after the food is put away.
An untimely spill or unwitting guest may provide human foods that may be harmful to your four-legged family members.
10. Speaking of spills . . .
Have your favorite wine removal product on hand.
BONUS: Be prepared for a last minute plus one.
In the spirit of love and inclusiveness, be ready for an extra-guest or two. Keep a couple of folding chairs at-the-ready and have a couple extra place settings available.
If you want to read more about celebrity chef Friendsgiving hacks, check out this article from NBC. You can also check out my post on how to safely prepare turkey here.