How to Host a Fully Nourished Friendsgiving
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and is one of our favorite reasons to gather! When the leaves start to change and the air turns crisp, fond memories arise of cooking all day and dancing in the kitchen, grandpa carving the turkey, sharing what we are grateful for, and excitedly awaiting what decadent desserts Auntie will bring!
Since good friends are like family, what better way to show your gratitude for friendship than by hosting Friendsgiving! We recently invited a few girlfriends over for a fully nourished Friendsgiving feast. We had the best time catching up with the insightful Sydney, the lovely Melanie of The Nutrition Foodie, and the creative Chelsea, who also photographed the evening. Today we’re sharing our guide on how to host a fully nourished Friendsgiving, including food, drinks, music, and decor! Cheers friends, to the start of a wonderful holiday season!
Food is one of, if not, the most important part of a festive Friendsgiving. That we can all agree on, so let’s cover it first. We recommend keeping the appetizers simple and saving your efforts for the main event. We love a good cheese board with a few varieties of cheeses, fresh grapes, veggie sticks, hummus, seeded crackers, and fig jam. Your friends will love the beautiful presentation and tasty bites, but still have room for the main course.
Friendsgiving is all about that potluck. Especially when hosting a large group, it is absolutely okay to ask that your guests bring something to share. To keep things organized, start with creating a Google Doc. Note the general categories for thanksgiving fare (potatoes, vegetable sides, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, dessert, beverages), then have your guests sign up for a category and write what they plan to bring. Tell your friends to bring their dish prepared with appropriate serving utensils. It’s nice to get everyone involved, and this helps to ensure that there is a good variety of food!
As the host, you should prepare the turkey and gravy! Herb-roasted turkey and pan gravy will always be classic. We stepped outside of the box, and prepared our turkey with a tart cherry cranberry glaze. With only a few girlfriends over, we prepared just a turkey breast, and kept our menu on the simpler side. We planned our day of preparation around the cooking times of our dishes. Consider using templates like these to help plan your day and decrease stress.
Our ladies also brought delicious dishes that added so much warmth and flavor to the Friendsgiving spread! Check out our Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup for tons of inspiration! Are any of your friends vegetarian or gluten-free? Make sure there are plenty of vegetable sides and use this guide to troubleshoot.
We love serving a signature cocktail when hosting an event. It adds a special touch that is sure to be memorable. We made apple cider mimosas for a festive twist on the brunch classic. Did you check out our Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup yet? We feature fun and festive cocktails there too!
We also like having a mix of wine, beer, and liquor. Alcohol can get pricey, so ask your friends to bring a bottle of wine or beers to share. We’re currently loving this dry rose cider; it’s delicious, and the packaging is gorgeous! It’s also nice to stock up on soda water, and fresh fruit slices so your friends can make non-alcoholic fruit-infused waters or a refreshing cocktail, if they desire.
Set the stage for your Friendsgiving event by sending out custom invitations a few weeks in advance. We are actually big fans of the electronic invitation! Have you ever sent or received an evite? There are numerous free services with gorgeous templates, it is much easier than texting each person, and it’s an environmentally friendly option. We used minted, an art, home, and stationery design service to create ours.
SET THE SCENE
Create a warm and inviting atmosphere to match the spirit of thankfulness. We went for simple rustic vibes, starting with a natural linen tablecloth, and a centerpiece of seasonal squash and apples, white pillar candles, wooden flowers, and real pine cones.
For each place setting, we topped simple white plates with alternating cloth napkins. To reduce waste, we highly encourage you to use reusable plates and napkins. Yes, you will spend a bit more time on cleanup, but the environmental impact is well worth it. Plus, real plates and napkins add an elegant touch. Antique silverware, mason jar cups, stemless wine glasses, and custom name cards completed this rustic, chic look. For more table setting inspiration, check out this sophisticated guide from Elle Decor.
Make your guests feel extra special by creating custom name cards. We love this classic printable place card or these beautiful pumpkins with printable leaf tags. We got a little crafty with card stock and sharpie. We’d say it turned out pretty good! On the back or inside of each name card, include a note of why you are thankful for that person’s friendship and presence in your life. This is a simple and thoughtful way to show each guest how much he or she means to you!
Since we shared this evening with just a few friends, we arranged each name card at a table setting ahead of time. For a large group, keep the name cards on a platter, and allow your guests to take their name card and create their own seating arrangement.
FEEL GOOD MUSIC
Good music can really set the tone for any gathering. For a festive Friendsgiving, we recommend chill, pop, fun music, with a few throwbacks mixed in (Justin Timberlake may have made an appearance or two this year)! Not only does she take incredible photos, our friend Chelsea is also musically inclined and created a custom playlist for the event. Every song got us excited and was perfectly suited for the evening. Check it out here to use at your own Friendsgiving, or to draw inspiration from!
Beyond the quintessential “what are you most grateful for?” there are tons of fun conversation starters and games you can use to engage your guests. We reminisced about fun times and embarrassing moments, and shared what we are looking forward to most!
GOOD-BYES & GOODNIGHT
Send your guests home with yummy leftovers! We asked our friends to bring Tupperware and had them make their own doggy bag at the end of the night. This helps minimize cleanup and waste, and gives your guests something tasty to remember the evening with.
After your guests have parted, and just before you hit the hay, clear the table and load up the dishwasher. You may not want to in the moment (we totally get that!), but we promise, you will be so much happier the next day. You can relax and enjoy your leftovers, stress free. We will be sharing a roundup of easy and healthy Thanksgiving leftover recipes soon, so stay tuned!
While hosting can be stressful, remember to have fun! Be flexible, problem-solve if issues arise, and simply enjoy yourself. Friendsgiving is about bringing friends together and cultivating an evening of joy. So share stories, laugh until your belly hurts, and create memories you will talk about at every Friendsgiving after!
We hope you enjoyed these tips for hosting your own version of a fully nourished Friendsgiving! What do you love most about Thanksgiving? Do you plan to host or attend a Friendsgiving this year? If so, we hope you will take plenty of silly candid and beautiful food photos, and tag us on Instagram with #fullynourished. We’re looking forward to sharing the holiday season with you!
In health and happiness,
Alexandra Rae & Felicia Stewart