In a perfect world, we’d all be free to journey home and have Thanksgiving dinner with our families, but sometimes that’s just not possible. That’s where “Friendsgiving” steps in.
Friendsgiving is just like Thanksgiving dinner, except with friends instead of family. It’s often thrown by people who can’t make it home for the holidays. But to be honest, many enjoy throwing these parties regardless of travel plans, because why not? It’s another excuse for a party!
So, today we’re going to share how you can throw the best Friendsgiving ever—while staying friends with your wallet.
Make it your own.
Many Friendsgiving celebrations involve a turkey dinner. But really, who said it had to be dinner?
Because the host is typically expected to provide the meat or main dish, the cost of a turkey dinner can add up fast. So why not try a non-dinner theme to lighten the load on your wallet? Here are a few ideas to get your creativity flowing:
- The Friendsgiving Brunch: Turn an old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner into brunch foods, featuring ham omelets, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and sweet potato hash.
- Childhood Memories: Have each guest bring their favorite childhood dish and tell their favorite Thanksgiving story to go with it.
- The Pie Cook-off: This is a dessert party, so guests should eat dinner before coming—or not, if they’d rather save room for lots of pie. Invite each guest to bring his or her favorite holiday pie and let the taste test begin! Once everyone’s done sampling all the pies, have the party vote on their favorites. All you’ll need to provide is the ice cream!
- Around the World: Let guests bring a holiday dish from the country of their heritage. See if each guest can also do a little research to find and share a holiday tradition from that country.
- Pretend You’re Somewhere Else: Choose another country as this year’s Thanksgiving inspiration. For example, instead of turkey and mashed potatoes, you could thoroughly enjoy a Mexican-inspired spread of homemade enchiladas, tacos, tostadas, guacamole, salsa and much more.
Share the prep work.
No matter which Friendsgiving theme you choose, we’d recommend having each guest bring a dish to share. Not only does this make your wallet happy, but it also makes it more fun to try each other’s recipes!
When having guests bring dishes to share, it’s important for them to sign up ahead of time so there are no duplicates. You can even post a list of what to bring on the Facebook event page to help organize who’s bringing what. So, for example, your list might look something like this:
- Vegetable sides (2x)
- Mashed potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- Turkey (typically the host provides this)
- Pie (2x)
- Non-pie dessert
- Non-alcoholic beverage
- Adult beverage (if desired)
Using your own cutlery and dishware could help cut down on costs, but may take a lot more time and effort to clean. If that’s the case, consider adding “disposable cups, napkins, plates and silverware” to your list of needed items.
Keep in mind that it’s typically considered polite for the host to provide the meat or main course. However, if you have a lot of guests attending, you can consider splitting up the main dish so that several people are each bringing a small portion of it. For example, if your main dish is turkey and you have a large group attending, maybe you and 1-2 other people can each prepare a small turkey or ham (instead of one large one), and then you can enjoy each chef’s personal touch (and the extra dollars in your wallet).
Consider where to have the party.
The biggest factor to consider is space. You’ll need a spot for each guest to sit down and enjoy their food. While tables and chairs work best, you could always spread out a picnic blanket on your living room floor for a more casual feel. (We’d recommend letting guests know they’ll be sitting on the floor ahead of time.)
The second factor to consider is cost. It’s most cost-effective to hold this party in your home or one of your friend’s homes. However, if the weather is nice, you could also hold it in a park. (Note: If you are hosting it in a friend’s home, be sure to arrive early for set up and stay late to help clean up, so your friend doesn’t regret saying yes.)
Decide how to decorate.
The best part about Friendsgiving is that a little décor goes a long way. This party is all about the food, and all that food takes up a lot of space, so a minimalist approach to décor works best. (Plus, you can use items you already have at home, which your wallet will love.) Why not try these DIY ideas on for size?
- Instead of placemats or table runners, turn a roll of kraft paper into a tablecloth. Then, fill some cups with crayons or colored pencils (whichever you have readily available in the house) and space them out along the center of the table. This kind of tablecloth isn’t just for eating; it’s also pure entertainment!
- Fold your napkins into leaves. (Here’s an easy tutorial.)
- Dig out your old vases or some glass mugs and fill them with acorns from your yard or coffee beans from your pantry. You could also add some floating candles on top (hello, dollar store) or used artificial flowers (hello, Goodwill).
- Create your own banner by using clothespins to hang fall leaves (or use old newspaper clippings to spell out “Friendsgiving”) onto twine, yarn or ribbon.
- Instead of flowers, decorate the table with cutlery. Find three mason jars or vases, and put forks in one, knives in the next, and spoons in the last one. You could also decorate the outside of the jar with a ribbon and flowers picked from your yard. They’ll add a fun flair and be available for people to take as needed.
With these four tips, you can throw an epic Friendsgiving party while still staying friends with your wallet!