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Holidays

Heartwarming, Fun, and Festive Friendsgiving Ideas

friendsgiving-ideas

It’s that time of year again! So much festive excitement, but also, stress! It’s the time when your calendar begins to fill up with holiday events and family gatherings, and it can be difficult to think of something special or original to do. Well, worry no more. This list of Friendsgiving ideas was created with you in mind. Organizing a meal for your closest friends this fall could be the beginning of a new tradition that you will cherish for years to come. We’ve got everything you need to plan your Friendsgiving right here, so get some inspiration and make it happen.


Friends are the family you choose to adventure with!

There’s nothing more special than spending time with your favorite people, but great relationships don’t happen by themselves—they take work! If you’re looking for a fresh way to have a fantastic time with your loved ones, look no further than our Adventures From Scratch. Each stunning book is packed with over 50 activities that stay hidden until you’re ready to reveal the ideas. Use the handy key to pick a page, scratch the surface, and get ready for an experience you won’t soon forget!


What is Friendsgiving?

A Friendsgiving dinner party is a get-together during the month of November that allows dear friends to commemorate Thanksgiving together. For some people, it replaces the traditional family meal. For others, this special event is celebrated in addition to the typical “Turkey Day” feast.

The term first showed up in the early 2000s on social media posts and photo albums. The TV show Friends featured Thanksgiving episodes where the characters opted for a dinner with their friends instead of family members, which was referred to as Friendsgiving by viewers. Large cities with more transplants, like New York City, will see more celebrations that break traditional molds. It’s a great option to bring people together that may not be able to travel home to see family because of work obligations or budget restrictions. 

Rules do not apply here, so get creative with your Friendsgiving ideas. Break free of some of the Thanksgiving traditions you don’t love and come up with your own. We’ve got some ideas to help you think outside of the box and put together your own Friendsgiving celebration this year. 

Planning the Logistics of Friendsgiving

The first thing to do when planning your special version of turkey day is to decide on the logistics. Who, when, and where are the details to work out before you start cooking and meal prepping? 

Pick a Date

Some people do host their event on Thanksgiving Day. Typically, this is a popular choice for people who don’t visit their families for a holiday. While there are more than 50 million people that travel each year on Thanksgiving weekend, there are still millions more that stay home and do their own thing for the holiday.

If you have plans already for the actual Thanksgiving holiday, you can plan a Friendsgiving celebration anytime in November. Some people even host one in October (we see you, Canada.) Choose a fall date that works for you and some of your closest friends, and give everyone plenty of time to plan and add it to the calendar.

Make It Special

Hosting Friendsgiving should be enjoyable, not stressful. There are no special rules you need to follow as a hostess, so make it the kind of holiday celebration you will love. If you want to make it vegan, have everyone come in pajamas, or only eat pizza, you get to decide. This can easily become a new yearly tradition for you and your friends, so try to have a good time planning it! It might just become a very special annual event for your crew.

Determine Your Guest List

Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings people together to share a meal. When building your guest list for Friendsgiving, think about who you are thankful for and want to surround yourself with. Bring together people that you think would hit it off or organize a reunion of friends that have known each other for a long time. 

The only rule that you should consider is the amount of space you have. You can adjust the list as people RSVP, but you don’t want to pack your house so full that no one can sit down and eat. You also want to make sure you’re able to feed everyone on your guest list, so consider how much food and how many place settings you have.

Send Out Your Friendsgiving Invitations

Decide if you’ll send out traditional paper invitations or something more casual like an email or text. Make sure to include all the important information like date, time, theme (if there is one), RSVP information, and if there is anything your guests are expected to bring. Give people plenty of time to figure out what to bring and clear their calendars. At least three or four weeks is usually recommended for holiday events. 

How to Plan a Friendsgiving Menu

Friendsgiving food ideas can really come from anywhere. Traditional Thanksgiving dinners include turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Obviously, that varies from family to family and by geographic region. Bring out all your favorite Thanksgiving recipes if you love a traditional meal and create a feast. But if you want to change it up somehow, consider one of the ideas listed below or create your own party menu. 

Organize a casual gathering.

The holiday season is a hectic time for many people. One option that is out of the norm is an open house style Friendsgiving. Put out appetizers and finger foods and invite people to stop by and hang out at any point on a certain day. Because there is no sit-down dinner, you can have people come and go as they please, and guests will appreciate the ever-changing rotation of people to mingle with.

It’s a casual way to show your love and appreciation for your friends—without needing to find a specific dinner time that works for everyone. It’s also a good way to introduce your friends to each other because it’s a more relaxed setting. Turn on football games in the background for some entertainment and relax and enjoy the company of your favorite people.

Host a Friendsgiving brunch.

Most people think of Thanksgiving as dinner, but why not switch it up? One option is to invite your friends over on Thanksgiving morning for brunch before everyone heads off to their family gatherings or other holiday plans. You can watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and enjoy mimosas, pastries, and fruit salad. Since most people have the day off of work, you can take advantage of the entire holiday.

If Thanksgiving is too hectic, plan a brunch for the next morning and use some of your leftovers and get creative. You can also host any of the other weekend mornings as well through the season. Brunch allows you to serve any type of food that you enjoy putting together, so consider skipping the tradition of dinner and doing something new for your Friendsgiving.

Make it a potluck-style event.

Are you interested in a more stress-free Friendsgiving event? Make it a potluck. When you send out invitations, ask everyone to bring something to share. People might have favorite Thanksgiving recipes that they want to utilize more than once this year. Start a text thread so people can share what they are bringing. You don’t want to end up with ten pans of mashed potatoes (or maybe you do?) 

Potluck-style makes life much easier for the host, plus you won’t have to purchase as much food for your guests. It allows everyone to contribute, and people get to try a decent variety of options. Before you eat, invite your guests to share anything they’d like about their dish. Some people might have some unique Thanksgiving traditions or stories about their families and holidays past that they want to share. What a way to get conversations started at the dinner table!

Swap the traditional main dish for something different.

Friendsgiving dinner can look however you’d like it to look. If you don’t like stuffing a turkey and cooking it for hours, change up the main course. Maybe you want to feature an Italian menu or Japanese cuisine. As the host of this holiday event, you get to make up the rules. 

Try a chicken, a ham, or even a fully plant-based option instead of turkey this year. Another way to make this celebration your own is to prepare the turkey in a new way. Deep-frying turkeys have become more popular in the last decade, with thousands of YouTube videos walking people through the process. White Castle even put out information on how to make a Slider Stuffing for your turkey. If your usual family guests are traditionalists, use your Friendsgiving celebration as a time to try something you’ve had your eyes on. There’s always pizza delivery if something goes wrong.

Assign side dishes.

If you like the idea of a potluck but want a cohesive menu, you can assign side dishes to your guests. Give them to option to make their own or pick something up based on their comfort level. By doing this, you can ensure all the bases are covered, and your menu is complete. 

For traditional Thanksgiving meals, you’d include side dishes like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, cranberries, dinner rolls, and macaroni and cheese. Consider people’s dietary restrictions if you go this route. You probably don’t want someone who is lactose-intolerant in charge of the macaroni and cheese. 

Friendsgiving dinner is an excellent opportunity to showcase some of your cooking talents to your friends who you may not cook for. You might be surprised at which of your friends can whip up some incredible fresh baked bread or desserts as well.

Consider a dessert party.

Remember when you were a kid, and you assumed that adults ate desserts all the time because no one was telling them what to do? Why not bring that idea to life and hose a dessert party? Thanksgiving is famous for pies, so you could set up a pie bar and have everyone bake their favorite pie to bring and share. If you want to add a little extra zing, make the taste test a competition, and vote for favorites in multiple categories.

If you aren’t a fan of pecan or apple pie, you could always extend the dessert options to include holiday cookies, cakes, and ice cream. Again, the host gets to create whatever rules they want for their event. Host a creative challenge where everyone has to decorate their own cupcake or cookie. Do a pairing with desserts and drinks that allow people to taste a few options. Let your creativity run wild with ideas.

Don’t forget the drinks!

Autumn drinks are one thing everyone looks forward to. Whether you prefer apple cider, pumpkin spice, hot chocolate, or something else, don’t forget about the drinks at your Friendsgiving celebration. Match up the drinks you serve with the menu, so they pair well together. It’s also completely acceptable to have people bring their own drinks. Just make sure to give them a heads-up so they come prepared. 

Consider creating one signature cocktail (or mocktail) to serve with the meal. There are so many great recipes available for hot drinks that are perfect on a cold day. Wine is another classic, and you can dress it up by adding custom wine bottle labels that your guests will love.

Friendsgiving Ideas for Decorations and Tablescapes

The Friendsgiving decor follows the same idea as the menu, there are no rules. Friendsgiving will usually take place in the fall months, so having a table with oranges, reds, and yellows is an obvious choice. But you can follow any themes you’d like for your gathering. Have fun with it!

Theme

We’ve all seen the typical Thanksgiving decorations and color schemes. Try something else! Incorporate a theme like a decades party or a tropical party. Encourage guests to dress up or just use decorations to set the mood.

The easiest way to break the mold on the Thanksgiving theme is to avoid fall colors in your decor. Choose a solid color like green or blue and build a beautiful table around the color. Pick up balloons that spell Friendsgiving for an affordable but large photo backdrop. Use plants and natural items as centerpieces, especially if you live somewhere where the leaves aren’t falling. It’s the thought that matters, so choosing something other than the typical autumn leaves, pumpkins, and harvest symbols is completely acceptable. In fact, it might make your event even more memorable.

Tablescape

Your table setting can be as simple as putting out plates, silverware, and napkins, but it can also be an area where you exercise a lot of creativity. Add a tablecloth and use cloth napkins if you want to up the level of elegance. 

Repurpose the usual kids’ table into a spot where everyone can put down the food items they brought. That alone can serve as a beautiful decoration. Add some fall flowers, like mums, to vases for a simple but beautiful table centerpiece. Light some candles or string some fairy lights to add warm lighting that will make your room feel more intimate. 

Thanksgiving dinner centerpieces are often cornucopias or the giant turkey itself, ready to eat. Consider a DIY centerpiece for your Friendsgiving table! Use leaves from your yard to make a falling leaves snow globe. Look around and use what you already have. Candles make a huge impact on the ambiance of any dinner setting. You can even use pictures of you with each of your guests as their place cards. Not only will that be a surprise for your guests, but it could easily spark some conversations. 

Decorations

One pro tip for decorations is to make them something that your guests can take home with them. Unless you want to store a bunch of items and use them year after year, turn them into favors. Utilize pumpkins with people’s names on them, customize glasses (that will also keep drinks organized), and sprinkle the room with small, seasonal plants or flowers. Fall-themed chocolates are another great option that can be both a place card and a dessert.

Other Friendsgiving Celebration Considerations

Once you have your guest list set, your invitations sent, and a menu planned, there are a few other things to consider before the date of your Friendsgiving party. These items will just help make sure you are prepared to host a fantastic party for your loved ones.

Make a playlist.

Music sets the mood for any party or gathering. Unlike many other holidays, there aren’t really many specific songs for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t designate some festive songs and put them on a playlist for your party! If you are doing a fairly standard Thanksgiving setup, choose songs that feature food and gratitude. If you chose a theme, like a certain decade, you could make your playlist featuring songs that work with the theme.

Music streaming services have tons of playlists already built as well, so you can save time and select one of the available options that best fit your party mood. Keep the music on in the background and try and select a playlist that won’t repeat multiple times during the party. It will help keep things fresh and provide ambiance.

Think about the weather.

Some parts of the country are starting to get pretty cold in November, some even have snow. Consider the temps when you organize your seating and tables. Are you using a space that gets cold from the outside, like a garage or porch? The same considerations should be made for spaces that get extra warm with additional bodies and the oven going for a long time while the food is prepped. Keep an eye on the thermostat so you can adjust the temperature as needed to keep everyone comfortable. 

It’s also good to have a spot for jackets and shoes if everyone is going to be bundled up when they arrive. The entryway can get a little clustered with piles of coats and boots. Designate a spot in your home for people to store their outerwear away and let them know where that is right when they arrive.

Incorporate familiar Thanksgiving traditions.

Many families go around the table before their Thanksgiving meal and share something they give thanks for. The holiday is all about gratitude and telling people how much they mean to us. Even though Friendsgiving is a little less traditional, you can still incorporate some of these special activities into your celebration. Invite everyone to give a little toast. Encourage them to turn to the person next to them and give them a little love. You can even have someone bless the food and the table. 

Just because you are doing something a little different than the usual holiday celebration, it doesn’t mean that you have to leave the meaning of the holiday behind. If you did make a turkey, don’t forget about the wishbone. Decide who should break it and make a wish.

Organize games!

Party games come in all varieties. You can bring out a few classic board games for everyone to enjoy after dinner. Put together a little tournament and see who is able to stay competitive with a full bully. Dice games and card games are easy for large groups of people, plus they don’t require much for supplies.

If the weather is decent, you can bring the games outside as well as flag football or yard games. This is perfect if you are grilling or deep frying the turkey outside since someone will need to keep an eye on it while it’s cooking. Games give people a little something to do while waiting for dinner or afterward to keep the party going a little longer.


Closing Thoughts on Friendsgiving

Taking the opportunity to host your friends for the holiday season is special. Using the inspiration behind Thanksgiving and the fact that it’s a holiday about gratitude and love is a perfect reason to gather your nearest and dearest. Add this to your list of fall activities to enjoy this season! Or if you’re thinking of taking a trip with your friends then take a look at “The Dos and Don’ts of Traveling with Friends.”

Hope you have a Happy Friendsgiving!


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I plan a Friendsgiving dinner?

For some unique Friendsgiving ideas, consider switching up the main course from turkey to something different or host brunch instead of dinner.

What is the best way to celebrate the holidays away from my family?

If you can’t be with your family for the holidays, consider hosting your friends instead. There are some great Friendsgiving ideas for a special holiday meal.

What is a fun host gift for a Friendsgiving dinner?

If you are invited to a Friendsgiving dinner, bring the host a thoughtful gift. For example, Adventures From Scratch makes a great host gift! It will provide dozens of ideas for families or couples to do together any time of year!

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