What Does Your Friendsgiving Look Like? How to Organize Who is Bringing What!

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

The name Friendsgiving is a mashup of "friends" and "Thanksgiving," and the idea is to spend an evening with the holiday's classic dishes (or whatever menu you want!) and your best buds. Many people make their Friendsgiving celebrations a potluck party, to minimize the stress for the host; that way, everyone can simply relax and enjoy. Friendsgiving is a holiday unrestricted by the rules and traditions of a conventional Thanksgiving dinner, so feel free to add your own flair to the occasion! It’s your party, so serve up the feast in any way you choose. With Friendsgiving, you have a chance to create your own traditions with your group of friends.

There's no official date for Friendsgiving like there is for Thanksgiving. Friendsgiving can be celebrated on any day, at any time of year, but most gatherings take place in November. You decide when it makes the most sense for your crew, depending on everyone's holiday travel plans. Many people choose to host it before the real Turkey Day if they spend Thanksgiving traveling home to be with family. Others will just co-opt the true Thanksgiving and call it Friendsgiving if they're celebrating with a group of pals.

It's up to the host, but typically, the menu looks a lot like a classic Thanksgiving menu. Potluck meals are popular, with everyone bringing something to share—like their favorite recipe or one that reminds them of home. It's also a chance for groups to try out some less traditional recipes. Sometimes the centerpiece is a classic turkey, and sometimes there isn't a turkey at all.

Because it’s usually potluck-style, and your friends probably have varying levels of cooking expertise, budget, and timeliness, the event can be sort of a mess without some organization. If you’re hosting, you have three main responsibilities: Make the turkey (or whatever main course you’re having), set the table, and organize the event.

Once you know what everyone will be bringing (stress the “bringing” part of this — ideally, no one will need to wash, chop, or assemble ingredients upon arrival!), make sure your kitchen will be able to accommodate everything. You don’t want to unintentionally make your friends have to compete for oven or fridge space. Figure out what can go in the oven at the same time and what can come out early or go in the microwave if need be. In addition to their one dish, it’s totally appropriate to ask everyone to bring one bottle of wine, a six-pack of beer, or a non-alcoholic beverage.

The key to a successful Friendsgiving party is good food, and lots of it. (Good friends who are fun to be with are super important too!) Even if you love green bean casserole, you don’t want six dishes of it showing up at your Friendsgiving. Make sure to send around a potluck sign-up sheet before the big day so everyone knows what to bring. This way you’ll avoid duplicate dishes and make it easy to cater to dietary restrictions.

Finally, let go of your “Thanksgiving Judgement!” Who cares if your neighbor sautéed those green beans herself, as long as they taste good? Or if someone shows up with Two-Buck Chuck and stuffing they shook out of a bag? If someone wants to break into grandpa’s wine cellar or make some kind of artisanal sweet potatoes, that’s great. But let people know that this doesn’t need to be fancy or budget-busting. They can buy something on the cheap or go all out — whatever they want! This checklist can help keep you organized and your stress level down:

  • Assign turkey duty/main course to the host. Transporting a fully cooked turkey all but guarantees a cold supper, so the bird and gravy should be made at the host’s place.
  • Let friends pick their dishes. A group text or a shared spreadsheet (with categories like appetizers, side dishes, veggies, and desserts) will make planning so much easier. Your friends can simply add their name and what they plan to bring.
  • Don’t forget the drinks. Make sure one person doesn’t get stuck with the whole haul. Instead, have each guest bring a favorite libation.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of food to go around. After confirming guests and significant others, make sure everyone knows how much food to prepare for the number of guests attending the party.
  • Arrive ready. If you’re a guest, make sure your dish is as close to finished as possible before heading over to the festivities. With oven space at a premium, slow cooker dishes are a great choice.
  • Make sure you have enough seating. With the guest list set ahead of time, plan seating accordingly.
  • Stock up on the basics. More people in the house means going through things like toilet paper, paper towels, and garbage bags. Shop ahead to make sure you won’t run out. And while you’re at the store, it’s a good idea to grab some paper plates and utensils for backup and aluminum foil and containers to send leftovers home with guests.

Friendsgiving is a relatively new holiday unbound by rules and tradition, so feel free to invent your own! It’s your party, so serve up the feast in any way you choose. You want to serve sandwiches instead of a roast turkey dinner? Go right ahead! Feeling a vegetarian Mediterranean spread? Do it. Maybe everyone should show up in pajamas or a costume. Why not? There’s no shortage of ways to go with your Friendsgiving ideas, which means you have a chance to create your own fun, happy traditions, and even your own menu. Need inspiration? Check out some recipes at our website (https://bellisaris.com/pages/recipes). Happy Friendsgiving from all of us at Bellisari’s! 

Pumpkin feta muffins on a plate in front of a white pumpkin.


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