Every year, Thanksgiving becomes more difficult for people to travel home to see family. Flight prices increase, jobs give fewer vacation days, and many in our community find themselves choosing to stay in the city during the holiday (even though this year we do get to go back to my hometown).
As the day approaches, I repeat in my head over and over again: “You are a big girl and big girls don’t get sad about not going home for Thanksgiving.” My hope is that the self-talk will put me in the holiday spirit. My head starts to believe I will not miss the tradition of waking up to the smell of roasting turkey and flaky rolls, but my heart sinks when I walk into my empty, aroma-less kitchen.
Thank goodness a brilliant Millennial somewhere coined the term “Friendsgiving—an opportunity to turn my bleak holiday into a friend-filled celebration with laughter, sweaters, and pumpkin pie. I’ll admit that “Friendsgiving” will never be the same as a Thanksgiving at home, but it is a meaningful way to share the season with friends. It’s also a special gathering to host even if you do travel to be with family on the actual day of Thanksgiving.
So, how does one prepare to host a “Friendsgiving” that makes every guest feel at home? Let’s start here:
In our non-committal society, pledging your time to an event is risky. But, the more thought and effort you put into the prep, the more likely friends are going to say “I wouldn’t miss it.” They know you are taking “Friendsgiving” seriously.
Don’t let having a small house or not enough space around your table keep you from hosting. Invite as many people as you have room for, and pull anything that can function as a chair into a common space like the living room. -Savannah Payne of the Savvy Plate
Everyone Should Contribute
Make the meal a team effort. The Friendsgiving is more meaningful when people can make their favorite family dish and share it with the whole group.
Make a clear sign up list. Use google sheets and post how many people are coming so everyone knows how many dishes to make. And if you are intimidated by leftovers, donate the food after. –Melanie Fenwick
Don’t let anyone at your “Friendsgiving” feel like an outsider. Stop mashing those potatoes for a moment and introduce folks right when they walk in the door. People hate pretending they remember each other’s names so be an intentional host that breaks the stranger-barrier and gets people engaging. Use name tags. Or assign people roles.
Last year I gave my most outgoing friend the role of bartender. He loved working it and it was fun to have someone make the drinks. – Melanie Fenwick
Set the Mood
I know we often like to keep our style simple and bare because we are all about effortless-charm these days. Yet, the atmosphere calls for special attention. Design a playlist that sets the mood.
A good playlist can really set the mood for Friendsgiving. This will also help your guests know what kind of experience they are in for as soon as they arrive. You could even go a step further and ask your guests to submit songs when they RSVP, that way everyone will feel at home during the whole meal. –Katie Brown, founder of At the Lane
Purchase flowers to make the tables festive. Find the cute paper plates with the turkeys on them. Creating a comfortable, warm, and inviting space changes the vibe for people. “Friendsgiving” is a special occasion; treat it like one.
Craft Place Settings
If you are crafty, good for you! This will be an easy one. If not, then grab a friend who can help you make a place setting for each person who is coming. Place settings say, “We were expecting you, welcome!” It quickly makes each guest feel special and included.
If you’ve invited people from a variety of social circles, using conversation cards is a safe and easy way to start the conversation. Conversation cards are even fun with people you’ve known your entire life. Write your own and leave them on the table OR you can purchase my favorite from Lumitory for $15.
Take Time to Say Thanks
It is a holiday to be grateful for all that God has done in the last year. Make a toast and invite others to share what they are grateful for this Thanksgiving.
For an intimate touch, have something/someplace where people can share what they are thankful for! This could be a chalkboard each person writes on and takes a picture with, a sign on the wall everyone adds to, individual sheets of paper at each plate. –Katie Brown, founder of At the Lane
Already feeling burn out hosting for the holidays? Then come read my post: “How To Fight Hospitality Fatigue.” We could all use some extra hospitable encouragement as we enter into this season.