Friendsgiving has become a cherished tradition in recent years, and for good reason: It’s an opportunity to enjoy good food and even better company. But if you’re thinking about hosting your own Friendsgiving celebration, you may be wondering where to begin. Whether it’s planning the menu or making the most out of a small space, here are 10 tips to help you host the perfect Friendsgiving party this year.
1. Confirm the Guest List
Nailing down your guest list should be the first step in planning a Friendsgiving party. If you’re hosting it at your home, consider how much space you have and how many people you can comfortably accommodate. If you’re hosting a smaller gathering, you may be able to rely on the dishware, utensils, and chairs you already have at home, but a larger party may require you to increase your budget or borrow items from neighbors and friends. Of course, you don’t need to stress over these details until after you send out your invites. Keep in mind that many people travel for Thanksgiving, so you should expect some of your friends to decline your invitation.
2. Choose Between a Potluck or Sit-Down Meal
One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to organize a potluck-style Friendsgiving or take on the task of preparing the entire meal yourself. A potluck can be a great way to celebrate a range of dishes that reflect your friends’ unique specialties and traditions, while significantly cutting down on the time and effort you need to spend. On the other hand, if you take pride in your culinary abilities and want to offer a curated meal experience, cooking everything as the host might be right up your alley. You’ll have more control over the menu’s flow and cohesion, but it’ll be much more time-consuming (and costly) on your part.
If you decide to go the potluck route, you’ll need to coordinate who’s bringing what so you don’t end up with too many variations of the same dish. Divvy up main courses, appetizers/sides, desserts, and drinks, and let your guests know if there are any allergies/intolerances to keep in mind.
If you’re making everything yourself, set a firm budget and be sure to plan your menu in advance, as some items can sell out quickly at grocery stores during the week of Thanksgiving. Don’t be afraid to ask a close friend or two to head to your place early to help out in the kitchen.
3. Ask Your Guests If They Have Any Dietary Restrictions
The meal is the centerpiece of a Friendsgiving gathering, so take a moment to check in with your guests about any allergies or dietary restrictions. Whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or nut-free requirements, being informed allows you to either adjust your dishes or incorporate a few alternatives to ensure everyone has something delicious to enjoy. If you’re opting for a potluck-style gathering, communicate these preferences to all your guests so everyone is on the same page.
4. Send Out Invites in Advance
To help guarantee that everyone on your guest list can make it, decide on a date at least one month in advance. Putting the date on the calendar several weeks ahead of time helps ensure people will be able to come during the busy holiday season. If your schedule is flexible and you want to find the date that works best with your friends, you can send a poll using a tool like Doodle with 2-3 options.
When it comes time to actually send the invite, you have a few options, including text, email or even tools like Partiful and Paperless Post, which make it easy to track RSVPs and communicate with guests. If your group is smaller, you can even design your own Friendsgiving invitations online and send them through the mail to add a personal touch to the RSVP process.
In your invitation, be sure to include information about where the dinner will be held, what time guests should arrive and what type of item(s) you’d like each guest to bring (if it’s a potluck-style dinner). If you live in a busy neighborhood that’s difficult to get to, you might also want to include information about public transportation options or where to park.
|Tip: Encourage guests to RSVP at least a week in advance so you can properly prepare.|
5. Figure Out the Seating Arrangements
You don’t need to assign seating at your Friendsgiving party, but you do need to make sure there’s enough room for everyone — especially if you’re in a place that’s tight on space. Smaller groups might all be able to fit around the dining room table, but you may need to pull extra chairs and folding tables out of storage to accommodate larger groups. If it’s warm enough outside or you have ample outdoor heaters, you might even be able to have some guests sit on the patio. By figuring these details out ahead of time, you can make sure the dinner goes smoothly.
6. Stock Up on Essentials
While figuring out the dinner itself is one of the biggest parts of your hosting responsibilities, don’t forget about other practical details. In addition to chairs and table space, you’ll want to make sure you have enough of the following.
- In the kitchen and dining space: dishware (plates for dinner and dessert, bowls, water cups, wine glasses), cutlery, placemats and napkins.
- In the bathroom: hand soap, toilet paper, hand towels (or paper towels) and air freshener.
- Bonus items: hangers for coats, travel-sized toiletries, hand sanitizer, antacid tablets, lactase pills, headache medicine, stain remover sticks and extra phone chargers.
Presuming you and your guests hang out for a bit after dinner, you’ll want to set up a cozy area in your living room where people can lounge. Having candles, extra pillows and soft throw blankets can help create a warm and inviting atmosphere for conversations and activities.
7. Decide on the Decor
As the host, you’ll have your hands full preparing your space for guests, so don’t stress too much about decorations. Even small, simple fall-themed options — like a colorful tablecloth, gold-accented objects, miniature pumpkin centerpieces and fall-scented candles — can liven the experience in a simple but memorable way. Dried flowers and grasses in vases are another easy option to transform your space and can be stored and reused every year. Lastly, a holiday playlist — which you can find on Spotify or YouTube — goes a long way in setting the mood. You can even create a collaborative playlist (where your friends each add their favorite friendship- or fall-themed songs) in the weeks leading up to the dinner.
8. Clean Your Home
Give your home a thorough cleaning before having guests over to make sure everything looks just right. Consider going through the house room by room so you can sweep, vacuum, dust, and wash windows as needed. If you have a small apartment or home, you might want to put excess furniture and belongings in a self-storage unit to clear space for guests. If you’re afraid of missing any details, use our downloadable Deep Cleaning Checklist.
9. Plan Simple Activities
There’s no need to put together an extensive list of activities for Friendsgiving — enjoying a meal and conversation with friends is the main point of the gathering. Still, it can be fun to plan a few simple things to do throughout the night. Here are some ideas:
- Ask friends to share what they’re thankful for or have them write these down and put them in a “Gratitude Jar.”
- Prepare a list of thought-provoking dinner table conversations.
- Keep a few classic board games on hand for a bit of post-dinner competitive fun.
- If you’re feeling ambitious, set up a DIY photo booth with props, allowing guests to snap memories they can take home.
- If you own a karaoke microphone, have a karaoke session focused on holiday tracks.
- Watch a holiday movie that everyone votes on after dinner, with popcorn, pumpkin donuts, and cider.
Remember, don’t stress out too much about having a plan — at the end of the day, Friendsgiving is about making special memories with loved ones, and sometimes the moments that don’t go according to plan are the ones you end up cherishing most.
10. Have Extra Tupperware
One of the best parts of hosting Friendsgiving is being able to enjoy the leftovers. Make sure you have plenty of Tupperware on hand so guests can help themselves to a leftover slice of pie or helping of stuffing. If you're budget-conscious or have a larger gathering, consider buying disposable foil containers or asking guests to bring their own containers. You can label the containers or use colored stickers to differentiate between dishes, making it easier for guests to identify their favorite items.