I’ve been hosting a Friendsgiving for nearly a decade and have been attending even longer, and it is truly the event I look forward to most each fall. I gather all my friends in my apartment for a booze-filled celebration of our friendship and food. I’ve hosted so many in my various tiny apartments and while the event runs generally smooth, it’s not been without some failures and headaches along the way.
Everyone is always a good sport when things go wrong, but it took me a while to get good at hosting Friendsgiving. Whether this is your first Friendsgiving, or you’re trying to get into the swing of hosting, these tips and recipe suggestions will help you make Friendsgiving the must-attend event of the season.
This is partially because I love menu planning and thinking about what I am going to cook, but thinking ahead of time allows you room to make sure you have everything you need. There’s nothing more stressful than running all over town the day of trying to track down ingredients or tools. With a plan, you can stagger the buying and prep over a few days (or longer) so on the actual day, all you have to worry about is cooking the turkey (which is hard enough on its own).
Have a spreadsheet
I see a lot of Friendsgiving advice articles that suggest you tell your friends what to bring. But where’s the fun in that? I love all traditional Thanksgiving foods, but some people might not, or they might have different family traditions. Over the years, friends have brought traditional Syrian, Puerto Rican, and Nigerian dishes to Friendsgiving. Do they fit with a traditional turkey day menu? No. But they’re fucking delicious and that’s really all that matters. If you’re going to take the time to make something (or buy! I don’t judge!), I want you to make something you want to share, not something that you feel has to fit into a traditional holiday box. This also lets you see what kind of holes need to be filled, so you can assign something to stragglers, or make a non cooking friend bring plates/utensils/etc.
Have a few drinks ready, but make the event BYOB
Hosting is a lot of work and also alcohol is expensive. I like to get a few bottles of wine or have signature cocktail ready for when people arrive, but I can’t fund the alcohol consumption for all my friends, so the event is BYOB. Plus, it’s my personal belief that you shouldn’t show up to someone’s house without alcohol anyway. It’s just best practice, ya know?
Read the directions
I cannot stress this enough, but when you’ve picked out your recipes for the day, read the instructions through, and then read them again. There has been more than one occasion where I didn’t fully read the instructions and had to panic-google how to braise turkey legs in 1 hour (an extremely aggressive boil). This will also help with timing so you can get things started early and/or time it so you can eat at a generally normal hour.
Expect to screw up
Per my advice to read the instructions, you have to just assume something will go wrong. The year I didn’t read the directions all the way through, I was going to braise turkey legs and didn’t start the braise until around 7pm and only realized then that this was not going to be a quick activity.
This isn’t the time to do everything yourself
I do not like to give up control in my kitchen. Full stop. But Friendsgiving — or cooking for a large group in general — isn’t the time to go it alone. If someone offers to take out the garbage, or do a round of dishes, or cut bread, let them do it. A long while ago, I learned that carving a turkey in front of 15+ hungry friends is extremely stressful, so that’s now the job I hand off to a willing friend.
Get creative with space
Growing up, holiday dinners always consisted of a beautifully set table with, like, 3 forks and multiple wine glass options. It’s pretty and feels fun, but seriously who has all that shit (or room) in a place like New York City? I don’t even have a dining room table, let alone space for a fancy table setting. People will sit on the couch or lean on the counter to eat, and the only person that will be guaranteed a seat will be a friend that’s pregnant (which is happening more with each passing year).
Also, I don’t have enough counter space to work and use it as a place to serve and eat. Nightstands become drink stations and bookcases become a serving counter. It’s ok to admit you’re not your parents with a house and a lot of space, so go ahead and use random furniture to moonlight as a table.
A few tried and true recipes
Because I’ve gained a reputation as someone that cooks a lot and cares about food, I feel like I always need to try new things to impress people. But for something like Friendsgiving, if something is good, there’s no harm in cooking it year-after-year. I think knowing something is going to be good lifts a bit of stress from the day, so here are some recipes and products that I continually rely on:
Chrissy Teigen's Mac n Cheese - You can find it in her Cravings cookbook. A friend has made this the last few years and it’s insane how good it is.
Trader Joe’s for hard cheeses, baguettes, and fancy-ish spreads. It’s ok to pop open a few jars of snacky things if you don’t want to make something. You can’t do it all!
Trader Joe’s or Costco for wine - I don’t know how they can possibly sell wine for that cheap, but I don’t like to ask too many questions
Brianna is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Hook & Blade. She is based out of New York City where she enjoys exploring the city, trying new foods, and people watching. She works as the Global Email Marketing Manager at Global Citizen, and tries to travel as much as she can.