Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for family, but Friendsgiving gives us a chance to celebrate our friends. I love Friendsgiving because it's the perfect opportunity to get together with best buds before the craziness of the winter holidays sets in. And while Thanksgiving with family is typically steeped in tradition, a dinner with friends grants you much more flexibility, allowing you to host exactly the kind of gathering you want. Below are my five favorite tips for hosting the perfect Friendsgiving.
People often travel during the holiday season, so the more lead time you give, the better. Send an e-vite via Facebook, Google Calendar, or Paperless Post ASAP (some people plan for Friendsgiving as early as August!).
Since Friendsgiving is a bit more laid back than Thanksgiving, you can literally serve almost anything you want. Feel free to stray from the classics and serve a globally-inspired spread instead. For instance, in my book, Friendsgiving, I offer Cuban, Italian, and Southern-American menus. Whatever you choose to cook, just make sure it goes together - i.e. you wouldn't want to serve Vietnamese spring rolls alongside Spaghetti Bolognese.
The key to hosting a stress-free Friendsgiving is being prepared. Be sure to print out the recipes you're cooking, read them in their entirety, and note how long they take to cook from start to finish. Then, make a timeline outlining the order in which you'll be tackling the recipes, breaking the recipes down into sections, if needed (e.g. make the dough; prep the filling; assemble and bake the pie). Another key is getting as much prep done in advance as possible. Cleaning and chopping produce, making salad dressing or a pie crust, can be done one to two days in advance.
Just because you're hosting, doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. Ask friends to bring dips and snacks, side dishes that travel well, desserts, and/or wine. It's a good idea to ask at least a week in advance and hint at what else you'll be serving (see tip #2).
Avoid the after-dinner food coma by engaging your guests in a game or activity. I am a huge fan of charades and card games like Taboo. Check out game apps for your smartphone, too; I am obsessed with Heads Up!, the hilarious game brought to us by Ellen Degeneres.
Looking for more tips for hosting the best Friendsgiving? Check out Alexandra's book, Friendsgiving.