Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving with your family or not, this season invites room for an additional gathering fondly called Friendsgiving. This gathering is simply a combination of all that we love about Thanksgiving with the emphasis on the guests being friends. The holidays are an opportunity to celebrate with both family and friends. While the name of this get-together might be relatively new, the idea of gathering with friends over a meal is thankfully not. You don’t have to choose Thanksgiving with family or Friendsgiving. Choose both! That is what we are going to do this Thanksgiving.
If you love any excuse for a themed party, we could be friends! Here is an excuse in case you need one. If you have to be away from family this season, this is a great makeshift plan. If you are going to be with family for Thanksgiving, plan a Friendsgiving in addition to your family get together. To orchestrate your own Friendsgiving this year, just follow these simple seven steps:
1. Think hospitality and community first. You can make up your own rules when planning your Friendsgiving. Be creative. Be different. Be imaginative. It can be simple or fancy. It can be brunch, lunch or dinner. It can include games and crafts. Remember that the most important thing is plan an event that will build community with your guests. Hospitality is your goal. It is fun to decorate. Maybe this is the perfect reason to do a deep clean and pull out your finest. Or just keep it basic. For some people this is a great opportunity to practice throwing a party. The focus should be on how your guests feel at this friend gathering more that impressing them.
2. Determine a Location – Select a table inside or outside. Plan for your home or somewhere else.
3. Select a date. This may be the trickiest part of all. Some people like to pick a date on the week of Thanksgiving, but I think any time in the month will do just fine. If this is a meal for those who cannot be with family on Thanksgiving, plan it for that day. Sometimes it is necessary to discuss date options with a few of the guests so that everyone will be able to attend.
4. Invite the guests. The head count can be any number. Most Friendsgivings focus on conversation as well as food, so it might be best to keep the guest list from six to twelve so you can fit everyone around the same table.
5. Plan a menu that is shareable. This part of the planning is so much fun. As you invite your selected friends, share the menu. Invite them to bring what they feel comfortable bringing to the event. Embrace the traditional menu or just do something completely different. Consider a Taco Bar, a Hawaiian Haystack or an Italian meal. The ideas are limitless. Develop a meal plan. For your part, aim to find items that can are easy or can be prepared ahead of time.
If you have help, let your help supervise the food while you work the party area and hostess. Select the part you want to do and then divide the remainder into the number of guests you anticipate will attend. As a hostess I often prepare the main dish or meat dish. Guests can bring all the sides, drinks and desserts. You can serve off your dishes or ask a guest to bring paper products. Divide the sign up list with the idea of equal cost in each category. It is even acceptable to pitch in as a group to clean up before launching into the activities. This ensures that the hostess is included in the fun. Delegating makes things better.
One last thing about the food. If you like evening parties, you could plan a party that involves heavy snacking instead of a meal. When I do these parties, I invite friends to bring meat snacks, salty and sweet items. This makes sure you have balance and that everyone does not bring a dessert.
6. Conversation and Games – With the goal of creating an encouraging and uplifting event, voice boundaries and goals in conversation. Ask that the conversation avoid controversial and divisive conversation. Invite self control and maturity in playing nicely. A recent podcast on conversation might offer valuable ideas. Consider conversation cards such as Table Talk, Good Talk, or Basecamp Cards. Great party games might include Codenames or Quiplash (clean) or your favorite game. Games can be more active like dividing up into teams and doing a three legged race. Plan a scavenger hunt or a relay. Assuming you invited some of your closest friends, you likely know what would be a great choice. If you have children in the mix, plan activities for them as well.
7. Set the table. Again, this party offers so many options. Set the table with things you and your guests already own. Use fresh greenery and flowers or painted pumpkins like I have on my table. Serve with chargers and real dishes or use paper products. Consider place cards so you can strategically plan the best arrangement for conversation. (Place cards are easy way to do fancy.) Determine the flow of the to avoid congestion. Perhaps a drink area would pull the congestion away from the kitchen. A separate dessert area is also an option. You know the flow of your space best. Plan what works.
Friendsgiving is as easy as thinking of community, determining a location and date, inviting the guests, planning a shareable menu, conversation and games. Finally, grab one of these friends and enjoy setting the table. If you throw a Friendsgiving this year, I would love to see a picture!! You send it to me on Instagram or to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe you will say with Walt Whitman “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” Lean into the joy of friendship.
Join Tim and me for a conversation on Friendsgiving on our podcast Embrace Your Everyday.
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