We know you love your family – but celebrating Thanksgiving with your closest friends can be an exciting and stress-free way to recognize Turkey day this year.
Imagine this. Thanksgiving this year WILL NOT include the following: purchasing peak rate airline tickets, slogging through congested airports, spending money on car rentals, sleeping on Aunt Betsy’s twin sized pullout cot, dealing with the “range of personalities” that exist within your family, and then returning home feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation. While there is something truly nice about the family gathering around the table for a huge Thanksgiving feast, there is no reason why you can’t plan a Thanksgiving party with your circle of friends instead of your family members. After all, you can visit family any time – so why do so during the high stress travel season around Thanksgiving? If you’re planning to celebrate “Friendsgiving” this year instead, pay attention to the following tips to ensure that you pull off a smooth and relaxing get together.
The host does the bird
Since you are hosting, your sole culinary mission should be to cook the absolute best Thanksgiving turkey you can imagine. It is far too complicated to ask your guests to bring a turkey – after all, it can get cold in transit and doesn’t travel well to begin with. Plus, if you limit yourself to one main event cooking item, you can focus on some of the other hosting responsibilities that we will discuss later. Since you are making the turkey, though, you might as well make the gravy to go on the side as you’ll be able to use the turkey drippings to create a truly tasty gravy. But that’s it for cooking, we promise!
Delegate, potluck style
Create a list of all of the side dishes you’d like to see and then send out a sign-up sheet to your circle of friends. Keep this list short and include a space for extra items or specialties that your guests want to provide. Make sure that you have the basics covered – like mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry jelly, and rolls, but then get creative and allow your guests to flex their culinary expertise in the kitchen.
The hors d’oeuvres master
One trick to minimizing that “I can’t believe I ate so much” feeling that many of us experience during Thanksgiving is to set out small bites of food prior to the main meal. Keep this minimal as you do not want to fill everybody up before the Thanksgiving feast, but feel free to assign this task to your most reliable friend who will come through with a creative and eclectic mix of appetizers.
Bring the wine or beverages
Consider having each guest bring his or her favorite bottle of wine or beverage and create a tasting station during your Thanksgiving feast. You can have nonalcoholic options as well, or simply have each guest bring their own favorite drink to ensure that everyone is happy.
Set a beautiful table
This is your chance to pull out all the stops, so get out your best dishes (or buy some new ones if you can’t assemble a complete set with what you have), polish those drinking and wine glasses, buff up the silverware, purchase some nice dinner napkins, and then focus on creating an attractive yet simple centerpiece to get everyone in the holiday mood. Remember – we eat with our eyes, so presenting food and beverages in a tasteful manner will make the meal that much more memorable.
This year, go all out and host a Friendsgiving that will be talked about for years… Just don’t tell mom that you had more fun this year than you’ve ever had at a family gathering!