It’s that time when we all start realizing that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and begin frantically looking for flights, recipes, and topics of conversation that will impress our annoying family members. Our advice: Don’t let the stress of the season get the best of you. Instead, gather your closest group of friends for a Friendsgiving. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea, it’s meant to be a lighthearted way of celebrating the holiday with the people whose company you enjoy most–not your semi-sexist great uncle.
“Friendsgiving should be way, way less formal [than a traditional Thanksgiving meal],” says Tiffany La Forge, a professional chef, host, and food writer in Spokane, WA. “It should be fun, with limited stress, and you definitely should not spend all day in the kitchen.” Still, planning a dinner party can be daunting, so we asked for her best tips to pulling off a fuss-free Friendsgiving feast.
Give out plus-ones
La Forge’s first rule of hosting friends is to enjoy the company. She encourages you to give out extra invites. “Let your friends bring their significant others, new acquaintances, or coworkers—the more the merrier,” she says. If you don’t have spare space at your dinner table, create intimate table settings on your coffee table or kitchen island, too.
La Forge assures us that you shouldn’t feel bad about splitting up the responsibilities and cost of the night—after all, it’s meant to be a group event, not a personal party. She says that the host should take responsibility for the turkey, as well as one or two of the main sides, and let the guests take care of the rest. But instead of assigning dishes, ask your friends to bring something they enjoy making. There’s no need to overthink the menu.
La Forge recommends having wine or bubbly on hand and ready to be poured when guests arrive, but suggests asking them to bring the ingredients for a fall-themed cocktail. This will encourage people to mingle, as nothing gets people talking like booze. Think: hot toddies, cranberry cocktails, or mulled cider (all of which can easily be made virgin if there is a booze-free friend at the table).