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Hosting a Stress-free Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving is, in our opinion, the perfect holiday. It has all the trappings of a traditional Thanksgiving—food, drinks, and more food—but in the company of your closest friends. What could be better than that?

Friendsgiving doesn’t usually take the place of a family Thanksgiving, but things are looking a little different for a lot of people this year. If you’re away from family, or just looking for a different way to celebrate, here are our best tips for hosting a safe and stress-free Friendsgiving.

 

You’re Invited
Send out invites or evites at least a week in advance to give everyone a chance to RSVP and firm up the guestlist. Gone are the days of big gatherings (for now), so limit your guestlist to how many you can comfortably host in your home while following distancing and serving guidelines.

If you’re afraid that you’ll end up with three different versions of mashed potatoes, but don’t want to spend hours coordinating who is bringing what, create a shared spreadsheet for your guests and send it with the invites. Include categories like appetizers, veggies, potatoes and dessert, and let your friends fill in the dish they plan to contribute.

The Food
Traditionally, it’s easier if the host cooks the main dish—but that doesn’t mean you have to be traditional with what you prepare. How about a tray of chicken or veggie enchiladas, a big lasagna, or your famous pulled pork? Make the most of your time by choosing recipes that can be whipped together and then set in the oven or on the back burner for a long, slow bake or braise. Bonus: your house will smell incredible when guests arrive.

Not a cook? That’s ok, too. Many big hotels and catering services will let you order a turkey or ham, fully cooked and ready to carve. Or, if you’re feeding a smaller group, we won’t judge if you pick up a bucket of spicy fried chicken or a couple of those ready-to-eat rotisserie birds.

We also won’t judge if your gang decides to forgo cooking altogether and order in. You do you.

The Drinks
Depending on your group, “BYOB” might already be the unspoken rule—most people will arrive with a bottle of wine or a 6-pack of craft beer under their arm—but it doesn’t hurt to add it to the invite. On the day of the party, fill a large tub or cooler with ice to save precious space in the fridge.

If you decide to make a signature cocktail (or mocktail) to toast the occasion, stock the bar cart with pre-filled cups, plus a bottle of hand sanitizer and cloths for wiping up. Since everything is on its head right now, go ahead and use plastic cups, but look for the eco-friendly, compostable type.

 

Make Some Space
Even if you’re blessed with lots of counter space, remove anything you won’t be using (like the toaster) to free up space for serving. Make sure the stovetop, oven and microwave are available, as well as electrical outlets for Instant Pots and slow cookers, and thoroughly sanitize all surfaces.

Assess your seating situation well in advance and ask friends to bring extra chairs and/or a folding table, if needed. If the weather is especially nice, consider eating outside where you can spread out, but make sure you have an indoor “plan B," just in case.

Safe Serving
Avoid using common utensils, serving “family style” at the table, or allowing guests to help themselves from serving dishes. Instead, recruit a couple of friends with impeccably clean hands to be on plating duty and, just like at your favourite buffet, always use a clean plate for “seconds.”

At the end of the meal, have your designated servers pack up the leftovers into inexpensive to-go containers to make sure your guests go home with a yummy meal for the next day.

Have a Happy Friendsgiving
Above all, Friendsgiving should be a low-key, FUN occasion. Don’t panic if things go a little awry—or if three of your friends show up with mashed potatoes. Relax, breathe, wash your hands and enjoy your people.

How is Thanksgiving looking for you this year? Will you be with friends, family, or both? Tag us #DufresneStyle on Instagram and show us how you are celebrating.