Host Your Own “Friendsgiving”

Party smallWith Thanksgiving around the corner, you’re probably headed home – or, if you’re far from home, to a friend’s relative’s celebration. But, maybe you want to celebrate with your peeps. That’s reasonable – for the past year you’ve been living in your own home. Your friends and roommates make up your day-to-day world and you want to honor that. So here’s what you do: host a Friendsgiving!

As you may have guessed, the basic idea is that you and your friends get together on an afternoon and have a delicious feast in the spirit of Thanksgiving. It can be a fun, cost effective way to kick off the holiday season with those non-relatives closest to you. Here are some suggestions on how to pull it off.

Have the celebration on the weekend before Thanksgiving. It may be tempting to have it during the long weekend after Thanksgiving, but there are two problems with this: first, everyone is already exhausted from the actual Thanksgiving and second, most people won’t be around. Whereas, if you host it the weekend before, you’ll have in-town people excited to kick-off celebrations early.

Aim for 6-10 total attendees. Your party functions more like a dinner party than a party-party. Which means that you’ll be serving food, sitting down to eat (even if it’s only on the couch and floor) and that you’ll need to use plates and silverware. While your folks might be able to pull off a Thanksgiving dinner for twenty … think of the size of their house, the amount of work that goes into it, and remember that this is your first crack at hosting a Thanksgiving-like event. So 6-10 people is plenty.

Make it a coordinated pot-luck. Since you’re the host, you should offer to make the main entree. Since you’ll be having turkey in less than a week, consider going with some other hearty main dish, like short ribs, meatloaf or a pot roast. (You’ll find numerous easy recipes for each online.) Then coordinate with everyone else for what sides they’ll bring. Make sure the sides match. For example, if you’re making spicy short ribs, have friends bring cole slaw,  corn bread, collard greens, beer and sweet potato pie. That said, if one of your friends has a specialty, have them bring it, even if it doesn’t quite match – their specialty is bound to be delicious.

About that main dish. While making something like short ribs, or even meat loaf, isn’t difficult, per se, it does require some planning.  Notice, several key things that take advance planning: you may need to buy some heavy duty disposable oven pans, you need to buy the ingredients, including some spices you may not yet have , and depending on the dish, it may take up to two to three hours of cooking – not preparing and cooking. Just cooking. This type of time commitment is common for larger meat entrees, but usually the majority of the cooking is of the type where you can slide it into the oven and forget about it for a few hours. In other words, once you get it in, you can focus on other things, like straightening up your place!

Invite people to arrive a half-hour before the entree is scheduled to be done. It’s always awkward to have to wait on guests to serve the entrée. And no one will mind snacking on an appetizer, having a drink and chatting before the proper dinner. Plus, because the entree should be a fairly hands-off dish, you’ll be able to hang with your guests while it finishes.

Plan out your space. Have in mind where you’ll put your guests for dinner. Most people in their first apartment don’t have a proper dining room table. So, whether it’s pushing your kitchen table up against a card table you borrowed from the neighbor, or whether it’s having everyone sit around the living room on all your chairs while eating in their laps, or whether it’s using your coffee table as a makeshift table while everyone sits on the floor, you need to have in mind how it’s going to go down – and have your space arranged beforehand.

Have a post-dinner game plan in mind. After people are done feasting, they’ll want to hang around – but not like they would at a regular party. If you’ve done your job right, everyone will be half-comatose from food and will want to do something low key after dinner. Have a plan – maybe everyone plays a board game, or Apples-to-Apples. Or, if you and your friends are football fans, watch the game. Or, maybe a movie mini-marathon. Whatever it is, have in mind an activity after dinner where people can enjoy each other’s company without have to stand and mingle.

If you have fun with Friendsgiving, consider doing it again. And not just next year. You’ve just pulled off a successful dinner party of sorts. Congrats! And there’s no reason you can’t do one every few months. As you’ve noticed, if you cook a succulent entrée and ask others to bring some sides, people will come, people will be impressed and you’ll all have a good time. If you need an excuse to have another such party, keep in mind that both Easter and Passover are in the spring – and many people will be around and happy to celebrate.

Good luck, and Happy Friendsgiving!

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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