How To Host The Best Friendsgiving

Photographer and graphic designer, Julia Manchik, shares how to host the best Friendsgiving this holiday season.

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Thanksgiving is a holiday based around one single meal. It comes and goes quickly, giving you only one shot to get it right. That’s why I like to celebrate it twice, by hosting a Friendsgiving too. 

At a Friendsgiving, you don’t have to worry about making small talk with family members you hardly see, and you won’t get stuck at the kids table again. Your house, your friends, your rules. And to make it a night you’ll want to repeat next year, here are some pro hosting tips that will impress your friends, make the night memorable, and keep your workload simple. 

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Tip 1: Set the Menu 

There’s no reason you need to cook the whole meal… Friendsgiving should be a potluck. This will make it way easier on you as the host, and it'll free you up to hang with friends instead of slaving away in the kitchen.  

Decide what items you will make (like a staple meat, side, and maybe a dessert, so the basics are covered, and your friends can have more flexibility and less pressure around what they bring).  

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Tip 2: Don’t Forget the Drinks

The best way to welcome friends into your home and get everyone warmed up is with a drink. There’s no better time than Fall to break out the hot drinks like spiced cider, mulled wine, or hot toddies.

For hot drinks that don’t require you bartending all night, pour the drink and spices into a slow cooker and leave it on all night so the hot drink is ready to serve, and your home smells amazing (I made this hot apple cider in my slow cooker). 

You can also ask friends to contribute to the drink options by bringing a bottle of something good.

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Tip 3: Dress the Table

Your friends are easy to impress… Don’t feel like you need to make it super formal (unless that’s your thing), but a little effort will go a long way.

Add place cards with your friends’ names to the table to make them feel extra special with minimal effort. 

Spend some time adding festive touches to your home so dinner feels like more than another Friday night with the gang. You can forage for colored leaves, acorns, or pine cones, decorate with seasonal produce, or even re-use (uncarved) pumpkins from Halloween. Scatter them on the table, string them on fishing line to make garlands, or hang them in a pattern on the wall with decorative tape. I collected leaves in my neighborhood and combined them with pears and persimmons on the table. You can also do something completely unexpected but festive, like covering the table in glitter confetti… there are no rules for Friendsgiving. 

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Tip 4: Notice the Details

Set the mood for your event from the beginning. Hang a wreath on the door or make a welcome sign. Have a good playlist ready to go. Light some candles, string up lights, or set up the fireplace for maximum cozy vibes. 

A good host remembers the logistical details of dinner with a big group. Consider where coats and bags will go. Prepare extra serving dishes and serving utensils in case a friend brings something that’s not ready for the table. Stash some take-out containers so friends can go home with Friendsgiving leftovers. Surprise your friends with how thoughtful you can be. 

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Tip 5: Make it Meaningful

Friendsgiving is not just about the food and cozy vibes. Help your friends slow down and reflect. 

Put a card with a thoughtful question on everyone’s place setting ahead of time so you can kick dinner off with some good conversation. Or keep it classic—take turns sharing what you’re most grateful for. 

Continue the quality time after dinner with a board game or sitting around the fire.

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Tip 6: Document the Night

Make sure you have a camera on hand to document your favorite people and your hard work organizing the best Friendsgiving. Using a phone (with Moment lenses!) or an Instax camera makes it easy enough for everyone in the room to pick up and use the camera. This way, you’re not the only one shooting. 

Consider making a festive photobooth backdrop against an empty wall, using some of the decor pieces on the table.

Take photos of the set up, people mingling with drinks, friends settling into food comas, and maybe even some video clips of table conversations. And darn it, don’t forget to set a self-timer and take a group photo. If you start a tradition, it will be fun to watch your group of friends evolve over the years. 

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