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8 Tips for Hosting a Thoughtful Friendsgiving Dinner

"Friendsgiving" has all the great food and gratitude of regular Thanksgiving dinner—and none of the family drama. Here's how to bring your peeps together for an unforgettable Friendsgiving celebration.


Spread the word

The first tip for hosting a Friendsgiving party is to spread the word among your friends and let them know that this is a legit alternative to the family event they’ve been attending all their lives. The appeal of Friendsgiving (as opposed to Thanksgiving) is has been picking up steam over the years, according to a survey by Skout. The survey shows that 11 percent of adults aged 18 to 29, and 18 percent of those aged between 30 and 39 were planning on spending Thanksgiving with friends. Start building your guest list and shooting off those Evites! This may seem like a no-brainer, but since Friendsgiving is a relatively new holiday, you might want to spread the word early, and get your friends on board with what could easily become an enjoyable new tradition for you. (Looking for a stress-free Thanksgiving? Get our FREE guide for an unforgettable Thanksgiving. You’ll get easy recipes, kid-friendly crafts and games, inspiring traditions, and more ideas for the best holiday yet.)


Set the date

You might assume that Friendsgiving would take place on Thanksgiving Day, but popular culture dictates that it is more of an addition to the traditional feast, rather than a replacement. As such, Friendsgiving may fall on a different date, usually either the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving Day. So Friendsgiving is more like an extra holiday—an excuse to bond with friends and enjoy all the spirit of Thanksgiving—and perhaps some delicious leftovers as well. If you’re throwing a potluck with leftovers, considering giving the gathering a fun name, like a “Remains of the Day” party, riffing off the book with the same title that was turned into a 1993 movie featuring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.


Think outside the box

Once you’ve spread the word and set the date, it’s time to start planning the logistics of your Friendsgiving feast. Draw up a list of the supplies you’ll need about a week before the date of your party. If you’re in doubt about how much food (or drink) to buy, always err on the side of overbuying; you can always freeze leftovers for later with these tips for freezing and defrosting. One of the best things about Friendsgiving is that it’s a holiday with no set rules, so you can easily throw traditional etiquette out the window. You might start by ordering your whole feast online. A recent survey by Dunhumby reveals that 21 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds planned on ordering their Thanksgiving groceries online, using apps like Instacart, Shipt, and Google Express.


Stock up on finger food

Once you’ve stocked up on entree ingredients, make sure to also plan for hors d’oeuvres. No need to go crazy with stuffed mushrooms and shrimp cocktail, but some informal snacks and nibbles—chips and salsa, pre-cut baby carrots, a wedge of goat cheese and mixed nuts—will keep your guests happy and comfortable before dinner begins. Anything goes!


Have fun with decor

There’s no need to go Pinterest-crazy on the decorations if you don’t want to. Something as simple as a bowl of mini pumpkins and gourds makes a perfect autumn centerpiece. If you’re ambitious but short on time, you can actually buy a Friendsgiving kit in a box, complete with place mats, coasters, and even temporary tattoos! Then of course there’s the option to delegate the task ahead of time with these low-budget DIY Thanksgiving crafts with kids.


Keep the drinks flowing

Alcoholic beverages are a mainstay of any adult party, but you can enhance the festive cheer by skipping the predictable wine and beer and making a bowl of seasonal punch instead. Try mixing together pomegranate juice, ginger ale, pineapple juice, and a generous slosh of dark rum, or consider whipping up these delicious fall cocktails. Another trending adult beverage perfect for fall is hard cider—try Ironbound Hard Cider, made in New Jersey from fresh-pressed local apples, rather than from imported concentrate.


Play games

No party would be complete without a little programming, so in keeping with the theme of the holiday, try the “gratitude” game, which can be played all night. Simply tell your friends that, throughout your Friendsgiving celebration, they can only focus on things that they’re grateful for. If they complain instead, they will either have to either chug a drink, or do 10 sit ups. The gratitude game is a fun way of instilling a positive vibe into your Friendsgiving feast. When done on the regular, being grateful has incredible health benefits. If your party ends up needing a pick-me-up, check out Buzzfeed’s Ultimate Thanksgiving Drinking Game (it’s pretty funny).


Create your own traditions

Friendsgiving is a 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 subway sandwiches instead of a roast turkey dinner? Go right ahead! Feeling a vegetarian Mediterranean spread? Do it. Maybe everyone should show up in pajamas. Why not? With Friendsgiving, you have a chance to create your own fun, happy traditions, starting this year. Try sharing some of these funny Thanksgiving quotes around the table.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest