How to Throw a Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving parties have become really popular in recent years. Get the dos and don'ts for how to throw the perfect alternative to Thanksgiving this year.

The name Friendsgiving is a mashup of “friends” and “Thanksgiving” and has become a popular holiday celebration in recent years.

Friendsgiving is normally celebrated in November but can be celebrated any time of the year — some even celebrate it the day after Thanksgiving and bring leftovers to pass.

Whatever you’re Friendsgiving looks like is up to you, but for those that need a little extra guidance, Christine Janda from Christine Janda Design and Events offers her tips on throwing a fantastic Friendsgiving celebration.

Have a plan  

According to Janda, the first thing that you should consider when it comes to Friendsgiving is your plan for the menu. Traditional Thanksgiving dishes are an option but aren’t the only one — especially if you don’t have the time or space.

“If storing a big turkey or having a small fridge stresses you out, then just make your life really easy by having turkey breast or cutlets and wrap them in prosciutto,” Janda says.

“(Whatever you do, though) don’t leave your menu up to luck,” she adds. You could end up with a bunch of things that need to go in the oven at the same time, a bunch of appetizers or too many desserts.

Instead, she suggests that you draft a menu up by category and use a shared Google Drive document — which keeps things clean and organized for everyone — to let people sign up for what they want to bring.

“(This) allows guests to make what they want to make, but ensures the menu is still very cohesive and thoughtful,” she says.

Another thing to consider when drafting your menu is when your guests will arrive and if they are able to cook. If you know someone is always late, do not have them bring an appetizer. Instead, have them bring a dessert. If you know someone is not good in the kitchen, maybe give them a different job to do.

Most of the time, “people like direction and like to be told what to bring,” Janda explains. When you plan ahead and delegate tasks accordingly “you will end up having what you want and your guests will appreciate knowing that they are bringing something.”

Create a party atmosphere 

In order to create a nice flow to the party, Janda suggests setting your food up on tables along the perimeter or at an island. That way everything is out of the way and there is a designated spot for food and drinks.

It may also be a good idea to have drinks or small appetizers ready right when people walk in near the door.

Décor can be as simple or as fancy as you want, shaping dishes or copper pieces are classic and can be purchased or rented for those on a budget.

As far as entertainment goes, music is important.

You can create a Friendsgiving playlist for the party or you can use one already available on Apple Music or Spotify and have a different person control what’s playing throughout the night.

Games or other fun activities really depend on what you and your guests enjoy.

“My friends and I really love game nights, so it could be super fun to ask people on the sign-up sheet to bring a game to play for a large group of people,” Janda says. “There’s millions of games you can download and play on a Smart TV, as well.”

In addition, Janda likes setting up a photo moment so that guests can take home a keepsake from the party.

“You can use Polaroid cameras, or everyone can snap them on their phone against some type of fun backdrop,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be super expensive.”

Consider COVID  

Safety during COVID-19 is another huge consideration for Friendsgiving celebrations this year — and it’s key that you set your expectations with your friends ahead of time.

“I am a big believer of just kind of coming up with your own metric with what you are comfortable with and communicating it to everyone,” Janda explains. “Our circle is all vaccinated, but whatever version that is for you.”

In addition, Janda tells her friends to stay home if they are feeling sick and does her best to make things as safe as possible for her guests.

“Drink-markers are really good,” she says. “I personally have packs of 20 or 30 wine glass markers or crayon that marks glasses and washes off easily.” That way, people aren’t going to make the mistake of drinking someone else’s drink.

“You can also make things individually with cupcake liners or disposable wine glasses,” she adds “You could then add hummus with veggies or crackers and individual taco dip.”

Have fun

At the end of the day, Friendsgiving is all about getting together with your chosen family and enjoying their company, so above all, Janda urges you to do what you can but have fun with it, too.

“Do whatever is going to be the easiest for you, that you can get done in advance so you can really enjoy it and be present,” she says. “Think about what you can do so that you won’t stress and just do that — just be happy that you’re getting together.”

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Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Metro Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring metro Detroit with her son.


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