On Sunday, November 23, I hosted my very first Friendsgiving and I must say that I could not have imagined a more perfect event. Well, let's backtrack a little bit. Some might be wondering, what the heck is Friendsgiving?!
Thanksgiving with friends
Keep reading to find out more about how I decided to host one, my planning, and the execution of the event...
I first got the idea because I attended a couple of Thanksgiving potlucks last year: one for the Howard MBA program and one hosted by my roommate at our apartment in DC. Both were very cute events and I knew that I wanted to eventually host my own.
Some of those who are close to me know that I love to host events! Whether it be brunch, a kickback, or any small-scale gathering, it truly brings me joy to host my friends/associates and provide an event where people can eat, drink, and simply have fun. I've hosted brunches for Christmas and my birthday, my going away party in June (those who were there can attest to how much fun that was ;), and more.
My friends in Atlanta always talk about having a Sunday Dinner, but due to one thing or another, we were never able to plan one. We wanted to plan dinner around themes, alternating between Soul Food, Italian, Caribbean, just to name a few. With Thanksgiving approaching, I decided that we needed to tighten up and finally have one. With most people going away for the Thanksgiving holiday or spending it with family, I decided to plan one for the Sunday before Thanksgiving. This would ensure that we would likely have a good number of people in attendance and that people would have time to prepare dishes (IMHO, the ideal Friendsgiving is in potluck form).
Once I decided to host a Friendsgiving, I had to decide on the guest list, the location, and the menu. I am a big Internet nerd, so I googled "how to plan Friendsgiving," "Friendsgiving tips," and all things "Friendsgiving." There was a lot of helpful information online, some that I would not have thought of myself, so I would definitely suggest using Google when planning an event. One of the best lists I encountered actually came from Buzzfeed!
Location: I absolutely love where I live, but it simply isn't large enough to host a mid-to-large-scale Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to ask my friend AB if I could utilize his home for the dinner seeing as though it's 1) spacious 2) beautiful 3) in a convenient location 4) there is parking. He said yes and from there, Friendsgiving actually became a thing.
Guest List: I am a part of a group of twenty-something Atlanta professionals affectionately known as FNA (yes, this does stand for something - no, I can't disclose what it is haha). When I moved to Atlanta, I was introduced to everyone through a friend from Howard and ever since my move, they've made me feel extremely welcome. I also invited some other friends that I have in Atlanta around our age group, sending invitations to everyone through Eventbrite. Eventbrite is helpful so that attendees could have all of the details about the event in one place and the host could have an idea of how many people are attending.
Menu: When I (and probably most people) think of Thanksgiving dinner, I think of Soul Food. I created a Google Doc and split it into 4 categories: Meats, Sides, Desserts, and Drinks. I added some meal suggestions to the menu and sent the link out with the invitations, encouraging everyone to sign up for the suggested items or to add their own. Normally, the host is required to bring the turkey (and naturally, the gravy) and delegate food items to everyone else, so that is what I decided to do. I also ended up providing the deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, asparagus, and the cider - some simple items that I could quickly prepare the day of.
This method is normally helpful when people actually sign up for the list, but it was like pulling teeth to get everyone to input their contributions haha. I ended up having to talk to people directly about what they were going to bring. In the end, it was decided that most of the women would cook and the guys would be responsible for buying the drinks.
The night before Friendsgiving, my friend Starlet (basically my co-host and MVP) and I got an idea of what we needed to flawlessly execute this event. First, we started off by getting a final list of what everyone was contributing. Then, we made a list of things that we needed to contribute ourselves.
The next morning (ha, jk... afternoon) we woke up and headed off to the grocery store and Party City for supplies. Friendsgiving was scheduled to start at 5pm (this means 7pm in CP time) and I was excited to start prepping. I got the essentials from Party City (plates, napkins, utensils, cups) along with some decorations. I also asked people if they could contribute extra folding tables (to set the food on), punch bowls (to mix drinks!), and things of the sort.
Since I was responsible for the turkey, I bought one the week before and took it to AB's house that afternoon to cook it. We had some last minute cancellations, so I had to figure out what else I would contribute. The only reason I did not stress on this day is because of AB and Starlet - they were amazing.
So anyway, I'll skip the boring part where we spend the whole afternoon in AB's kitchen, cooking the food for that night. But, I will say that Starlet was my secret weapon because she was determined to not let me drown. She contributed lobster mac and cheese, stuffing, eggnog, sweet potato pie AND banana pudding... all delicious.
Starlet and I went back to our separate homes to get ready for that night (I don't recommend cooking in the clothes you want to wear - don't want to smell like food/mess up your clothes). When I got back, people were socializing/vibing to music (make sure someone brings speakers), drinking (shoutout to our bartender, AB!), and waiting for the food to be ready.
As I mentioned before, I prepared some deviled eggs for everyone to enjoy as an appetizer. I would also suggest chips & dip (artichoke dip, if you're fancy) so that people will have something to snack on while waiting to eat! Equally as important are the drinks - we had spiked apple cider, spiked eggnog, and wine. For the more ambitious, we did have plenty of whiskey and rum that was separate from the holiday drinks!
Finally, the last of the food was ready to be placed on the table. We gathered around and debated about whether we wanted to say what we were thankful for in addition to grace... a cute idea, but everyone was too hungry for all that haha.
Yes, we even surprised one of my friends with a birthday cake! Esme's birthday was the week before and it was decided that she would be gifted a cake (and the best part - this sort of thoughtfulness is the norm for us).
After we ate and attempted to recover from the itis, we got some games of Taboo and Spades going. Tread lightly, these games are known to cause a lot of shouting and compromised friendships (haha jk... kind of :). I would also suggest Kings (the drinking game), Cards Against Humanity, and Scattergories as other game options.
After everyone made to-go plates and cleaned up AB's place (thank you all so much for the help), we were ready to head home. But of course, not without a photoshoot to commemorate the event.