Our Most Popular Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving Decor and Party Tips

It’s not too late to plan your first Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving Party! Here are some great party ideas from our bloggers.

Decorating Tips from Audra

Inevitably, not being able to head home for Thanksgiving leaves many feeling blue and wondering how to get that holiday feeling without family around. The truth is, staying local and bringing the festivities to your apartment will be different from going home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your holidays away from home magical in your own way. One of our personal favorite ways to make this happen and to get into the spirit of celebrating is to decorate our apartment with fun, handmade decor (it’s especially fun when you get friends and roommates in on it, too!). So, instead of worrying about being away from family this season, focus on celebrating with your new family of friends and making your new apartment a true “home away from home.” Here are 5 cheap and easy DIY Thanksgiving decor picks that we’ve fallen in love with!

1. Chalkboard Pumpkinschalkboard-pumpkins

via Better Recipes

2. “I am thankful for…” Placemats
DSC_0741

via Ella Claire

3. Carved Pumpkin Ice Bucketpumpkin-ice-bucket-cherylstyle-B1

via Cheryl Style

4. Happy Thanksgiving Centerpiecesthanksgiving 095

via Bird’s Party Blog

5. Cinnamon Stick Candlestie-cinnamon-sticks

via Becoming the Mrs.

Friendsgiving Planning Tips from Alex

With Thanksgiving just days away, maybe you also want to celebrate with your peeps before heading home to your family. For the past year you’ve been living in your own home and 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’s how you can  to pull it off.

Schedule the celebration on the weekend before Thanksgiving.  If you host it the weekend before, you’ll have your friends still in town excited to kick-off celebrations early, before they head home for their family Thanksgiving.

Invite 6-10 total attendees.  This 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.

Make it a coordinated pot-luck. Since you’re the host, you should offer to make the main entree. You can make turkey, but since you know everyone will be having turkey in less than a week, consider going with some other hearty main dish, like short ribs (a slow cooker winner!), meatloaf or a pot roast. (You’ll find numerous easy recipes for each online.) As you invite people, coordinate with them what sides they should 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. And don’t forget to have some sides that your vegetarian friends can eat.

Make a shopping list. In addition to the main ingredients, your dish may require some heavy duty disposable oven pans or some spices you may not yet have. You may also want to pick up some festive paper plates and plastic cups and utensils.  For affordable party supplies and décor, check out your local thrift and dollar stores.

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. (If you need to move some furniture out of way, behind the shower curtain in the bathtub is a time-honored hiding spot!)

Plan your party day timing. Depending on your main dish, it may take up to two to three hours of cooking, even more if you are using a slow cooker. Read the recipe carefully and pick one that calls for minimal intervention on your part after the cooking starts. In other words, once you get your main dish in the oven or slowly simmering on the back burner, you can focus on other things, like giving your place a final straightening-up or setting up the drinks area.

Invite people to arrive a half-hour before the entree is scheduled to be done, except the friend who is in charge of appetizers and anyone whose dish requires longer time to heat. They should arrive earlier. And just in case your appetizer-bringing friend is late, stock up some emergency crackers and cheese or hummus to put out while waiting. If you picked your entree correctly, you should now be able to hang with your guests while the main dish finishes.

Friends at home watching TV and having funHave 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 board games. 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 having to stand and mingle.

Easy, On-Budget Friendsgiving Party Menu from Sarah

Thanksgiving is just around the corner (what?!) and for a lot of us, that means the 3 F’s: food, friends, and family. Even if you get to head home for the holiday, host a little Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving get-together with your roomies and take this opportunity to sit down for a fun meal and remind yourselves why you are so lucky to have each other. Don’t think I’ve forgotten that you live in an apartment. With little space. With a half-broken stove. With a fridge that’s full of old food and beer. That’s where I come in. Check out these budget-friendly ideas to make your holiday dinner easy and delicious.

1 Candles & a tablecloth from your local thrift store or Goodwill. Going out and buying a couple (cheap) fancier things will make your setting special and set this apart from other dinners.

2 Write notes to each other and leave them at your roommates’ place settings. Think about  what you appreciate about them and how they have been an awesome roommate.

Make decoration like you did in elementary school.

Recipe for EASY turkey that does take a lot of time, but isn’t complicated and looks delicious. (Note: If you plan to use a frozen turkey, you need to buy it the weekend before and let it defrost in your fridge. Read the directions on the wrapper.)

Potatoes are a necessity and Simply Potatoes take any struggle right out. And they’re surprisingly amazing.

6 Five ingredient green bean casserole!

7 Simple crescent rolls are perfect when you’re (still) craving carbs.

8 Stuffing doesn’t have to be as complicated as your parents make it!

9 Sweet potatoes are easy and delicious–bake in the oven and add butter and brown sugar.

10 Award winning pumpkin pie recipe (that only takes 5 minutes to prep).

11 Don’t forget your cranberry sauce!

12 CHEERS! You did it!!

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