This year Brendan and I hosted twenty-five of our closest friends and siblings for a Friendsgiving Dinner. I love to throw parties and host our friends but I’ll admit it’s sometimes a bit overwhelming and a little intimidating. We wanted to start our own traditions with our friends because they are truly our family and we’re so thankful for each one of them. Plus, it’s a fun way to get everyone together to eat, sip and be merry before the holiday schedule gets too full. I wanted to share with you our Friendsgiving spread and show you how to convert any space in your home to host guests for a holiday dinner but I got side tracked cooking and hosting! Here’s a smaller recreation of an easy Friendsgiving table and I included some of my favorite tips for hosting a Friendsgiving at the end of this post!
I loved the idea of having a “traditional” dinner, my mom always has a long dinner table setup for holiday dinners because she loves everyone to pray, eat and laugh together while enjoying the meal. I knew for our Friendsgiving Dinner I wanted to have the same concept, however I don’t have a formal dining room to setup a long table. I contemplated having the dinner at my parent’s house to use their formal dining room but then last minute decided to use an unconventional space in our house – our unfinished backyard. We are getting ready to start remodeling our backyard at the end of this month and Brendan thought I was a little nuts when I proposed the idea but we have a long slab of concrete the width of the house that was perfect for the very long table I envisioned.
One of the most important parts of planning a dinner is making sure all your guests are comfortable at the table. Again, because we were hosting more people that our dining room could handle, we setup the table in our backyard where there would be no shortage of space for our guests! I started with enclosing the table with a white covered tent to hide our backyard’s imperfections and keep the dining space warm. Lots of folding table hidden under the tablecloths made up the forty-eight-foot table, I really wanted to rent benches to create more space but instead decided to rent chairs to save cost.
For décor, I chose a neutral palette keeping the decor light and white while adding some beautiful greenery to give it a little something extra. The main dining table was simple and effortless, I used gold charger plates to add a touch of color and be the base for the glass dining plates. I took a handful of white pumpkins in various heights and sizes and placed them around planted rosemary in glass vases for that effortless look. I arranged floral neutral-tone center pieces to bring a little more airiness to the table and weaved them through the candles and pumpkins. The last touch was adding a small branch of fresh eucalyptus on each place setting.
I love assigned seating and anytime we host a dinner party I always try to add this element. It eliminates confusion or chaos as your guests are looking for a place to sit and makes them feel much more welcomed. Plus, it’s such a cute personalized touch!
I didn’t go very far to find everything we needed for our food table, letting the gorgeous colors and aromas of the food bring the space to life. It started with a simple white table runner for our reclaimed wood dining table. On our dining table, we placed our large serving dishes, I piled up a few more pumpkins and filled a tall vase filled with a beautiful fall floral arrangement. I interlaced more fresh eucalyptus through the serving dishes, which makes the whole room smell heavenly.
Looking to host a Friendsgiving or holiday dinner this year, here are five of my best tips for an event like this!
Make a check list
In order to keep all my thoughts together and hammer out each detail in time, I plan everything in advance so the day is smooth and stress free. About two weeks before, I start making a checklist, décor plan and grocery list so assure nothing is left out. Since this is my first-time hosting Thanksgiving, I relied on this Ultimate Thanksgiving Planner to help me host a fabulous feast.
Set your table ahead of time
A great timesaver, is to set your table ahead of time! This will keep you from scrambling the day-of, and leave you more time to worry about the food and the last-minute touches. I personally like to setup the table the night before to finalize décor and allow myself time to get anything else I think I need and do one final last deep clean before my guests arrive.
Ask everyone to bring something
If you want to hold a big, seated dinner, consider making the turkey and asking your guests to contribute appetizers, sides, and dessert. Or, if you’d prefer a more casual gathering, stick to appetizers and desserts. We asked all our friends to bring a favorite homemade family dish as a fun way to share Thanksgiving traditions.
Put your own spin on store-bought items
Let’s face it, not all of us our cooks so matter whether you’re hosting or attending Friendsgiving, contributing a dish doesn’t mean you have to make it entirely from scratch. Quiches are always a hit for my parties and they’re so cost effective and easy to make. In my experience, a meat and cheese boards are always a popular part of any party’s menu, I always have a couple cheese platters scattered across the party!
Create a simple mocktail
It’s an easy way to make your party feel more put together, and gives an extra-special touch to any occasion. You can never have too many options, so I had a Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider and Holiday punch that both went well with vodka served with sugared cranberries in a stemless wine glass. It the perfect statement piece to impress your friends when they walk in the door.
Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help to make your Friendsgiving or holiday dinner parties as enjoyable and special as ours was! Getting everything prepped and setup beforehand means you can focus on spending quality time catching up with your friends and not rushing around like a frantic mess, and trust me I’ve been there before too! I am so happy with how it all turned out, evenings like these tend to be some of the most memorable moments and that’s exactly what we were able to achieve!
Do you celebrate Friendsgiving? Do you have any fun rituals or traditions?