I’ve said it plenty of times but Fall is my favorite time of the year. I really think it’s because I was born and raised (until about 5th grade) in Last Vegas and there we do not have seasons, let alone fall time. When we moved to Washington, it was life changing how beautiful it got during these months. With all of that in mind, I started throwing a fall dinner party for my friends about 9 or 10 years ago? I honestly lost track of how many Friendsgiving I’ve hosted but I do know this year will be the third living with Jonathan. The holidays can be a busy time and I wanted to make sure I had some fun with my friends before all of our schedules got booked up. If you have ever considered a dinner party during this time of the year or even have no clear what I’m talking about, read on! I’m sharing all of my tips I’ve gathered over the years I’ve celebrated this amazing get together.
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A friendsgiving is a get together held for your friends. It can be a traditional thanksgiving meal, potluck style, or any other meal you want. It’s more about getting together before the holidays so celebrate your friendships!
Holidays = busy schedules. November is the beginning of the holiday madness. Keep this in mind while trying to plan the perfect day to host. Know that you cannot please everyone’s individual schedules and just be flexible that some people may not be able to come, but hopefully they can swing by! I always plan my Friendsgiving the Saturday before Thanksgiving so my friends know this is the time every year.
Think about how you want to let your friends know about your event. I’ve done both mailed invitations and digital. You can use a service like Evite, Greenvelope, invite app (this is what we did this year. Set it all up on your phone and it texts your guest a personal link to RSVP), or do a simple Facebook event invite. Over the years of hosting a Friendsgiving, I’ve gone towards the easier route of inviting friends via text and/or Facebook.
If there is anything I know and have learned from Ina Garten is don’t try to do it all. I can tell you now, the first year I hosted my Friendsgiving, I made every single thing. It was fun yes, and I got everything on the table, but boy was I exhausted at the end. Now I make 2-3 things and ask everyone to bring a dish to share. It’s made life and the party so much more entertaining! Every year I make this easy Lemon & Garlic Roasted Chicken, a veggie side (Last year I made an amazing Butternut Squash Hash that will now be my go to!), and dessert.
Now that I encourage others to bring something to share, I always keep it open for them to bring what they want. I do ask have them let me know what they are thinking so there is no doubles (mashed potatoes are great but not 3 pounds of it). I’ve never really run into any issues when I do this!
Think of shortcuts you can make so you don’t have to be in the kitchen all day long that day. I usually prep everything I can the day before so I’m not chopping and making a mess but more putting things together to cook. The chicken dish I make is always assembled right before I cook it the day of, but I do cut all the lemon, garlic, and onions the day before. This can be the same for decorations, cleaning up, and anything else you need to prep!
Make sure you get a headcount of all your guest so you can setup your table and chairs before everyone gets there. I’ve borrowed chairs and tables before so there is no additional cost and I love when the chairs done match 100%!
Don’t spend all your money on decor! Hit up your local target dollar spot and dollar tree and make collections. I now have a whole bin of decorations that I’ve kept year after year. For my tables, I always have a real table cloth (you can buy two that match at Wal-Mart or even Amazon for fairly cheap).
I use fake leaves down the center which I bought at the dollar tree, you can also go outside and grab real leaves for free! I also have some plastic/foam pumpkin and grouds from there, used some Mod Podge all over and sprinkled some clear glitter to give it a little extra touch. I’ve used mason jars with water, fresh cranberries, and candles. I almost always use pinecones because they smell so good!
One thing I’ve learned is I can be a control freak for sure. But over the years I’ve let go of that and embraced the help. Every year, I mostly prep with Jonathan and get the house clean a few days before so we don’t stress about it later. We also usually decorate the day before so I don’t have to do anything extra the day of. When it comes to people actually showing up, if they ask to help with something, I always let them. Just delegate and let them help!
Usually we are left with tons of leftovers. I almost always have tupperware or take home containers available for my friends to take some delish food home for them to enjoy.
The ultimate goal is to have fun with your friends! If things go wrong, just smile and let it go. It’s not worth it to stress over things that don’t go according to plan. Just move on and have fun!