With Thanksgiving around the corner, now is the time to host a "Friendsgiving," where you can choose who sits around your table, with no family drama and no nosy aunts and uncles asking when you're getting married! I love hosting dinner parties (and parties in general!) so the idea of throwing a Friendsgiving is exciting to me, but I know a lot of people are overwhelmed just thinking about having to organize and host a thanksgiving meal. Instead of my monthly Dallas Blogger Brunch, I opted to host an intimate dinner in November 2015; after hosting my own Friendsgiving last year, I have a few tips to help you keep things simple and execute a well-planned and memorable event that you and your guests will enjoy!
PICK A LOCATION
Location, location, location! You've heard that before, but it's even important when deciding where to throw a dinner party. Do you live in a studio apartment with no room for guests? Or do you host Sunday night dinner every single week and want a change of scenery for a special Friendsgiving meal? Sometimes hosting a meal in your own home isn't ideal due to space or other limitations, so start thinking about a different location; is the weather nice enough to host outside? Do you have a friend with enough space who wouldn't mind co-hosting with you. Sometimes the hardest part of planning a party is finding the right location; if photos are important to you, look for spaces with natural backdrops, like this fence covered in ivy! After you decide on a suitable spot, the rest of the planning process is a breeze! Location can also determine the guest list or vice versa; you'll have more flexibility with a larger space, but an intimate meal with just a few close friends is also a nice way to spend an evening celebrating what you're thankful for.
PLAN THE MENU
Everyone has a favorite thanksgiving dish (mine is mashed potatoes!), so your Friendsgiving menu should be a combination of your friends' favorite items! Don't be shy; ask each guest what their favorite dish is or what Thanksgiving dish they would like to prepare. Don't tell guests to bring "anything you want!" As much as everyone loves pumpkin pie, I want also some green beans and turkey for dinner! It's appropriate for the host to provide the main course during a potluck-style meal, with guests bringing side dishes and dessert. I had grand plans to cook up a feast for a few girlfriends at my Friendsgiving, but time slipped away from me and I ended up buying a few pre-made dishes to serve, but nobody was bothered by it! It's important to remember that not everyone has time to whip up a dish from scratch; don't sweat it if your food doesn't look gourmet (the key is to transfer the food from takeout containers into real dishes)! Our dinner table had limited space, so we served our food buffet-style from the kitchen. The most important thing is that you and your guests enjoy each other's company!
DECORATE THE TABLE
I would rather have a beautiful table setting than make room for serving dishes on the table (priorities); having the table preset with dishes and place cards immediately makes an impression when guests see the dinner table and lets them take a few Instagram photos (or a lot, if they're bloggers) while you finish any last-minute prep. I used mismatched silverware and plain white dishes to keep things simple, but an easy way to dress up your place setting is to use a charger plate, like these inexpensive gold chargers I used here. Plain white cloth napkins are a step up from paper napkins, and a nice detail for smaller dinner parties. Another way to keep your table prep minimal, is to use mismatched chairs; I gathered these chairs from my living rooms, desk, and kitchen to add an eclectic look to my outdoor table setup.
I came up with this beautiful table setup with help (a lot of help!) from talented floral designer, Raquel of R. Love Floral, and new friend and calligrapher, Andrea of Fig and Flourish. Both of these women are so creative and talented- it was such a pleasure to work with both of them to come up with a fun and festive tablescape for Friendsgiving. If you're thinking that you have to hire someone to make your table beautiful, you don't! You're in luck, because both of these generous creatives shared some tips about how to create your own special tablescape. Another helpful resource is Pinterest- that's where I start my brainstorming process for every single one of my events. Seeing photos of flowers, place cards, and dinner settings can inspire you to come up with your own theme or dinner concept.
We started our meal with a toast to our friendship and then had "girl talk" for the remainder of the meal. At my family's Thanksgiving meal, we go around the table and say what we are thankful for, so I loved the informality of this Friendsgiving meal, not having to adhere to any traditions, and just being able to enjoy each other's company and deepen our friendships over a meal. I am beyond thankful for the sweet friendships that have grown out of blogging and meeting kind and talented women in the Dallas blogging community; I'm looking forward to more events with these lovely ladies.
I hope these tips have inspired you to host your own Friendsgiving meal this year! Whether it's dinner or brunch, around a coffee table or in a park, it's easy to put a special meal together; just remember that the most important thing is that both you and your guests are free to enjoy each other's company and celebrate your friendship!