The last Thursday in November is rapidly approaching, which means it’s Friendsgiving prep time! Whether you’re a seasoned host or you’re inviting thirty friends over to your house for the first time ever, we’ve got you. We chatted with our own team to crowdsource the best tips for throwing a Friendsgiving dinner party your besties will never forget.
Don’t Stress, Meal Prep
The holidays are busy enough, so don’t try to prepare the whole meal yourself. Instead, ask your friends to help and make it fun. While you might be tempted to throw together a spreadsheet where everyone can just sign up for what they want to make, our Senior Manager of Merchandise Planning and expert host, Gail Dhaniram, suggests differently.
“Don’t assume everyone understands how a Google sheet works because you’ll end up with six pans of mac and cheese or thirty pies,” she says. “As a host, I like to cover the mains and then reach out to my friends who I know enjoy making side dishes, appetizers, and desserts.”
While planning the dinner spread, you may want to ask your friends if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions—and make sure you plan for at least one or two dishes everyone can eat.
Don’t have any Martha Stewarts on your list? Don’t worry. If your friends are more used to ordering takeout than cooking up dinner, ask them to head to Whole Foods, a nice grocery store, or a local bakery to pick up staple sides or dessert. Just plan ahead as dishes like delicious premade stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes sell out quick. Make sure you include appetizers like hummus, Italian cured meats, a cheese plate, and a pie (check out our list of Twin Cities area orchards for some farm bakeries where they can pick up fresh, homemade pies). If your friends need some dessert recommendations, we put together a roundup of our favorite fall recipes from Minnesota food bloggers. Or they can check out our fall flavors Pinterest board for some Friendsgiving recipe inspiration.
Leave yourself with the responsibility of the main course: the beloved bird (tofu or actual turkey all get respect here). If you’re afraid of the oven, you can actually order a pre-cooked turkey. But if you do plan on making your own, remember to defrost it and start the marinade the night before so you can wake up, have coffee, and set the oven timer. Check Pinterest for ideas on the best ways to cook your main dish.
Want to really rock the menu? Johanna Yannello, our Senior Manager of Brand Partnerships, suggests creating one or two themed cocktails for the evening. Some of our favorite autumn cocktail recipes include apple cider sangria, cranberry moscow mules, and maple bourbon cocktails. If you’re looking for an easy way to make them without all the work of gathering the ingredients, pick up a cocktail kit from Camp Craft Cocktails at Fourpost in Mall of America.
Alcohol can get expensive, so check out this list of affordable, trustworthy wines to find ones that appeal to you. Truth is, once people start drinking, they’re not going to be picky that you don’t have a 1989 Beaujolais. If it’s important for you to have some fancier varieties, spring for one or two nice bottles or ask a guest to bring a certain wine instead of a dish. If you have a membership at a wholesale club, it’s a great and inexpensive way to buy beer and mixers.
Another creative idea to take the pressure off is asking one friend to stay for clean up. That person doesn’t have to bring a thing—just themselves and the willingness to help you package food so friends can take the leftovers home.
Vibe is Everything
Once you have an organized list of who is bringing what, start to think about the vibe. Do you prefer a sit-down or buffet-style dining? How do you want the dinner table to look?
Johanna suggests creating a seasonal tablescape with a tablecloth, centerpiece, and place settings. You can bring in elements like plaid, pine cones, candles, or pumpkins to really add a touch of fall. And don’t worry about those mismatching chairs—it can be charming to have a mix of different elements and styles! Seasonal colors like browns, oranges, yellows, and greens really set the tone. We recommend looking through our fall home decor Pinterest board for inspiration and ways to DIY your decor.
When Gail hosts Friendsgiving, she writes out little cards for each person she’s invited, telling them why she’s thankful to have them in her life. Then she pins the cards to a corkboard, adding a festive, but meaningful, touch to the evening.
You can also set the vibe by creating a Friendsgiving Spotify playlist. Some of the hits on Gail’s playlist are “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People, “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, and “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. And if you have a living room with a flat-screen or a movie projector, cue up some holiday film favorites like “Elf,” “A Christmas Story,” or Netflix’s “Fireplace for Your Home.” Play them with the sound off so as not to disrupt the flow of conversation.
Whatever you choose to play, make sure it’s relaxed and resonates with the friends you’re inviting over. Jamell Watson, our People and Culture Manager, says he loves the Friendsgivings he’s been to because they were all about spending time with friends and sharing your deep appreciation for each other. “As adults, you get to choose the people around you that protect you and lift you up. At the last Friendsgiving I went to, we sang and listened to music all evening while we reminisced and laughed about good times,” he says.
As you wrap up the night, Johanna recommends having a small gift that your guests can take home with them. “Always have something for guests to take home, so they have a memento of the evening,” she says. “This could be beautifully wrapped cookies or chocolates, a travel candle, or even a recipe card with a mason jar of ingredients.” (Perhaps the recipe for that delicious pie you baked.)
Have fun with your friends and enjoy a fabulous Friendsgiving!