So, you’ve volunteered to host friendsgiving at your place this year and don’t know where to start? Well, you’re in luck my friend. This past weekend I hosted my first friendsgiving and it was quite the experience. Once all of the running around like a chicken (or turkey) with my head chopped off came to an end, and my festively decorated kitchen was filled with the smiling faces of my beautiful friends, I knew it was well worth it.
I’m going to list 5 important tips in order to pull off a successful friendsgiving which can also be applied to any holiday party or gathering.
1. Buy the bird in advance
One thing to remember when volunteering to host friendsgiving is that the host or hostess is responsible for cooking the turkey. If you’re like me and have never cooked a turkey before or have never had any part in the turkey process during family Thanksgivings, then this tip is EXTREMELY important. Turkeys are usually frozen at grocery stores, so you want to make sure you purchase this big bird a day or two before the big event. I went into this blind and was surprised to find all of the turkeys rock solid. Although it was a slight setback, it all worked out in the end. You can buy turkey legs and the breast (with wings attached) separately and it tastes just as good as a whole turkey.
Cooking it is slightly easier too.
2. Disposable Everything
At my family Thanksgiving meals all of my mom’s fine china get to come out of the hutch to adorn the table and create a royal dinner event fit for kings and queens. Friendsgiving does not have to be as fancy. I went a little over board on decorations (ended up returning some items that I didn’t use). While you’re shopping for decorations and place settings, remember that there will be a lot of wine flowing and things will be spilled and crushed by the end of the night. Get disposable everything: plates, cups, forks, knives and table cloths. Party City and Job Lot had a lot of great decoration options at such affordable prices.
3. Planning is key!
The moment you come up with the idea to put together friendsgiving, I would divvy up/ decide who is bringing what. I’m the planner out of my friends, so I created the facebook event group and sent out reminders each week. I gave my friends a certain amount of time to RSVP and then a certain amount of time to decide what dish they are going to bring. After you have the menu set, it’s easier to know what you need to buy: how many serving spoons? what kind of platters?
Planning out time-wise when to cook each dish is critical in ensuring that it is nice and warm when it’s ready to serve.
4. Make it festive!
Closer to the date of the dinner, a day or two beforehand, start decorating. I didn’t realize that hanging up tissue paper balls would be such tedious work. If you don’t have enough time to fully decorate during the week, try cleaning a little here and there each day, and the night before the dinner hang up the bigger items: puff balls, “Be Thankful” signs and anything else that might take a bit of time the event day. You want to have plenty of time to dedicate to cooking the turkey and getting beautified.
When it comes to the actual decorations, try to stick to a certain color scheme (mine was yellow, orange, deep red and browns) or a theme in general. You can have all of your guests dress up like either Native Americans or pilgrims and decorate the house like it is the actual day of the first Thanksgiving. Everyone loves an excuse to dress up for a themed party.
5. Sit down and relax
The reason tip #4 is so important is because it allows you to have way less to do the day of the event.
The most you have to do is carve the turkey and tell your friends where to put the endless bottles of wine. With everything already decorated the night before, and everything organized, it allows for less chaos. When we have family Thanksgivings, my mother, my aunt and grandmother are always running around and never have time to sit down, relax and enjoy the delicious Jamaican food they spent hours preparing. I never understood that until I found myself making sure everyone else was okay, and forgetting to enjoy the food we all prepared.
As the host/ hostess you want to make sure everyone is well taken care of and want to make sure everything flows accordingly; however you need to remember that you are there to enjoy yourself as well and be present/ in the moment….breathe and relax. If you start to feel overwhelmed it’s okay to assign duties to your friends, I’m sure they will be more than happy to help with anything you need.
Remember, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all that you have and spend time with those you love. Hopefully these tips will calm the nerves of you Friendsgiving first-timers and create a successful and memorable dinner!