How to Stage the Ultimate Friendsgiving
Friendsgiving is like the greatest one-day staycation imaginable. You don’t have to wrestle through airport crowds (or train or highway ones), you handpick the guest list, and the day is pretty much whatever you want it to be—with extreme R n R coming in at No. 1 on the call sheet, followed by great friends, delicious food, and tasty adult beverages. It’s quite possibly the most satisfactory day on the entire calendar.
And yet, it is possible to mess it up. Any one of a number of missteps can put things unpleasantly out of whack, cause a vegan or allergic friend to go hungry, or worst-case, acquaint you with the catchy but wholly undesirable phrase “deep fryer fire.”
To ensure that you not only don’t mess it up, but actually crush it, we’ve created a handy selection of “don’t-do-that, do-this” options, which, if followed, are certain to guide you and your crew to Friendsgiving bliss.
Skip that: Regular roasted turkey
This is not one of those fun-killer, food-snob criticisms of the traditional bird as a foodstuff. Turkey is delicious, awesome, and rightly beloved. This is not a call to replace it, but to upgrade it….
Do this instead: Deep fried turkey
You’re still having turkey—it’s just better, and let’s face it, even more American. Fried food is the lifeblood of the country, as a trip to any state fair will confirm. Deep fried turkey is extra crispy on the outside, super juicy and tender on the inside, and delicious all over. Plus, it takes less time to prepare than the traditional method. (Just make sure you don’t blow anything up in the process.)
Skip that: A random array of beverages
You’ll probably set up a drinks station in a central location at your Friendsgiving. Good move. You may also spread beer, soda, spirits and mixers across said station in an impressive display of generosity and forethought. Good move as well, but it leaves guests to their own devices, and unless your friends are bartenders by trade (a possibility! In which case, they’ve got this covered), their beverages will be sub-optimal. You can do better—for you and your guests.
Do this instead: Create or borrow two signature cocktail recipes and batch them up
Your pals will love them, your mixology skills will be celebrated, and this entire part of the production will be streamlined. It’s a trifecta of goodness. Here are three easy and tasty options right here, and here’s one more.
Skip that: Winging it when it comes to the music
Don’t just bluetooth your phone, open up your music app and let it ride. That could end badly. Sure, Converge’s Jane Doe is a masterpiece, but if it pops up during the day, it’s not gonna play well alongside turkey, cranberry, and light banter.
Do this instead: Make a playlist specifically for the day in advance
You know your friends, you know what they like, and you know what makes an appropriate soundtrack for pregame, dinner, dessert, and kicking back afterward. Curate your playlist accordingly. Another option: poll your guests in advance for song suggestions.
Skip that: Cooking the turkey and every single side dish by yourself
You were kind enough to host this thing, so unless you’re a jiu-jitsu level cook—and planner—you shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting by yourself. You could get overwhelmed in the planning stage alone, and if you make it to the execution phase, you may end up ruining your own good time. Yeah, don’t take all that on.
Do this instead: Organize a potluck spreadsheet for guests to bring the side dishes
You got the main dish. Boom, done. (Well, in the case of the deep fried turkey, hopefully not boom. But you got this.) Your guests will spare you unnecessary stressing by each bringing a side, and this operation will be coordinated via spreadsheet so there are no duplicates, and everyone is happy—including the vegetarian, lactose-intolerant, and allergic friends in the group.
Skip that: Packing leftovers into your fridge
At the time, you may genuinely believe that you will get to the remains of your incredible feast before they spoil and go to waste. But now is not the time for (possibly literal) pie-in-the-sky ambition. It’s the time for a sober, realistic assessment. You will never get to all those goodies, no matter how amazing they are.
Do this instead: Stock up on doggie bags or to-go containers
Then hand them out to your friends at the end of the night. Everyone takes a manageable amount home with them. Many hands make light work, no food goes to waste, and your Friendsgiving keeps on … giving.
Skip that: Cooking at all!
Cooking can be a great part of the day, but maybe you don’t enjoy it, or maybe you’re not up for the cleanup, or perhaps the local fire department has prohibited you from doing it. Doesn’t matter! Cooking is actually not mandatory! Isn’t that a liberating thought?
Do this instead: Get everyone to chip in for a catered meal
Hey, nothing wrong with outsourcing. Your Friendsgiving may be best served by leaving this element to a professional outfit that can guarantee standards of cuisine and service. If that’s the case, more power to you. Whatever works. As previously mentioned, one of the great glories of Friendsgiving is that the day can be whatever you want it to be.
Considering all it has going for it—good times, good friends, and exactly zero hectic travel, gift-shopping, or, um, ‘family dynamics’—Friendsgiving has the potential to be one of the greatest days of the year. With a little forethought, you and your crew can put your own stamp on the occasion to make it even better, whether that involves your insanely delicious signature Captain Morgan rum punch, that special algorithm you developed for the ultimate playlist, or your next-level spatchcocking skills.
Skip that: Lounging around staring at football after the meal
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course. Football is a justifiably cherished part of the day, and we say that even though our team is out of the running by late November. Every. Single. Year. But why not have the best of both worlds? ...
Do this instead: Play games!
Keep the football on, with the sound down, and break out some party games. Here’s a starter pack of three: Likes and Dislikes, Snake Oil, Funemployed. Friends interested in the football can still keep tabs on the game while the crew as a whole gets energized by a hilariously fun group activity.
Skip that: Keeping your place “as is”
Look, we’ve seen your place “as is.” Have you seen it? Seriously, we shouldn’t even have to tell you, but you definitely want to do some sprucing, and while you’re at it, maybe even a little light decorating.
Do this instead: Tidy up, stock up, and add a few holiday touches
We’re not suggesting anything Martha Stewart-level, but clean up, move furniture as needed to optimize the space for a party, and—why not?—pick up some pumpkins, some scented candles (cinnamon, pumpkin spice), and spring for some Thanksgiving-themed napkins. A little goes a long way here, especially for you. Also: stock extra toilet paper. Pro tip.