Friendsgiving, the hot new trend amongst young homeowners. And, it’s the perfect excuse to learn how to entertain!
Friends are the ideal audience for first-time hosts. Likely, they will be more forgiving to any oversights that your family or experienced entertainers might notice.
Plus, everyone is busy catching up and enjoying that drink bar anyways.
This year, I’ll be hosting my third annual Friendsgiving. My fiance and I are slightly over the top when it comes to planning and organizing. And a few of my friends have been asking me how I do it.
So, I figured this would be the perfect pre-holiday blog post for those looking to host their own Friendsgiving or holiday get together.
PLANNING is the key to a successful event. Depending on how many people you invite, we host 25-30, a meal this big is no easy feat.
PLAN OUT YOUR GUEST LIST.
How many people do you REALLY have room for? I’ll admit, I go way overboard. We have a pretty big friend group to begin with and it seems to keep growing with significant others as we get older. If you want a true sit-down dinner, make sure you have enough room and chairs for all people.
I usually draw up a little seating chart ahead of time so I can plan who is going to sit where and make sure that we have the right amount of tables and chairs.
For a party this large (26 people) it’s much easier to go with paper/plastic dinnerware and I like to keep my place settings pretty simple too.
This year I used plastic wine glasses and applied chalkboard stickers for my place “cards”, a gold dinner napkin, and a sprig of holly.
For my centerpieces I place one faux garland running down the middle of the table and sprinkle in some candles for mood lighting. With a large crowd, the tables tend to get crowded. So, I don’t go overboard with large center arrangements. Each table is topped off with a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine.
PLAN OUT THE MENU.
I love me some turkey, so I prefer to keep my Friendsgiving dishes in line with a traditional Thanksgiving menu. This requires the basics- turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, green bean casserole, etc. Ask your friends and family for trusted recipes. You’ll probably want to consider a trial run if you’ve never made the recipe before.
LAYOUT YOUR ENTERTAINING SPACE.
Draw up a quick floor plan to help you think about how you’ll use the space. Make sure you think about “flow of traffic” ahead of time to prevent everyone from bumping into each other in a crowded space.
Trust me, you’ll want some room to breathe as you are scrambling to finish last minute cooking, set up, etc. I try to keep everything and everyone out of my kitchen prep space.
Above, you can see my layout. The “prep” space is highlighted in blue and the flow of traffic for guests to navigate around is highlighted in yellow. This layout ensures that my prep space stays clear, but allows my guests to easily pop from the living room to the dining room to the bathroom and to all the “stations” comfortably.
What’s a party without a drink bar? One of the “stations” I include is a drink bar on my buffet. This bar hosts the pre-made drinks, ice, and garnishes. Nearby I also set up a smaller “overflow” area for extra cups, napkins, wine, etc.
I lay a table runner over my buffet to protect the wood from getting scratched or damaged. Mason jars are perfect for little extras like festive straws or garnishes (cinnamon sticks). To top off the drink bar, I throw in a FEW festive decor items like a poinsettia, berry garland, and vase with greenery.
Other designated areas that I plan for:
-Appetizer/dessert area- I keep a small table set up in the back corner of my dining room. Later, this table gets pulled out for dining. It’s a great space for guests to put the appetizers and desserts they brought as they arrive.
-Food line- I keep this space in my prep area so it’s easy to setup and breakdown without navigating around crowds of people.
-Separate designated space for people to hang out, i.e. living room, dining room table, and of course, the island.
CREATE A SCHEDULE/TIMELINE.
Not everything can be accomplished within 1-2 days before the actual event. PREPPING ahead of time is essential.
Now it’s time to HOST!
The fun has just begun! I recommend picking a designated helper for the day because ya can’t do everything. My helper is my amazing Fiance, he’s the turkey carver, I’m the gravy maker.
Since I make most of my dishes ahead of time, I need an efficient way to heat them on the day of. I usually alternate popping them in the oven 2-3 at a time, about an hour before dinner, to get them warmed (I’ll pre-set timers on my phone to remind me what needs to go in when).
I serve all the dishes in disposable tins and I’ll transfer them all into warming trays about 30 min before dinner so everything stays hot and ready to go. Pop a serving spoon into each and line ‘em up on the counter.
Even though I’ve planned where everything will go, I don’t pull out my extra tables/chairs until right before the meal. That way they’re not in the way of people mingling.
There you have it, my completely over-the-top breakdown of how to host the perfect Friendsgiving. If you’re not crazy enough to invite 30 people to your own event, the planning, prepping, and cooking will be WAY easier.
Have you ever hosted before? Are you thinking about hosting this year? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Comment below.
PS. The drink bar is not the only area that I decorate for my holiday party!
See what other areas I spruce up (hint: fireplace, front door) and see my take on a simple tablescape that works great for a smaller dinner party.