Friendsgiving is a must-have event if you can't get home to your family for the holidays — or straight-up want a bonus excuse to hang out with your friends and eat more turkey! But because it's usually potluck-style, and your friends probably have varying levels of cooking expertise, budget, and timeliness, the event can be sort of a mess without some organization.
If you're hosting, you have three main responsibilities: Make the turkey, set the table, and organize the event. I will help you with the latter!
1. Manage the guest list.
I generally believe the more the merrier, but that can be tough when it comes to something like Friendsgiving. You might not have space for a ton of people to eat a seat-down meal. And you might not love that a bunch of your friends are starting to ask about bringing their own stray friends with them. Figure out how many people you can comfortably fit at your place and then come up with a list that matches that number. Tell everyone upfront if it has to be intimate affair. If people have to send their regrets, then someone else can come or bring a plus one.
2. Be specific with assignments.
Ask everyone to bring one specific dish. If you want your former coworker to bring her famous crab dip, tell her as much. If you need your best friend to handle the stuffing, assign it out. Don't leave it up to people to bring whatever they want because you run the risk of ending up with five kinds of potatoes and nothing green (which actually sounds pretty heavenly). If you aren't able to come up with a specific wish list, give people a category, like appetizers, veggies, carbs, desserts, etc.
3. Be strategic with those assignments.
Your friend who is perpetually late? She does not get put on appetizer duty! (That honor can go to your most responsible friend.) The vegan can make something green, and your best baker can bring a pie.
4. Share all the info you have.
Have as much information as possible available way ahead of time. Share how many people will be there and if there are any food allergies or preferences to take into account. Just like you, your guests will need this info in order to plan!
5. Have a plan for the oven.
Once you know what everyone will be bringing (stress the "bringing" part of this — ideally, no one will need to wash, chop, or assemble ingredients upon arrival!), make sure your kitchen will be able to accommodate everything. You don't want to unintentionally make your friends have to compete for oven or fridge space. (Don't forget to count for the turkey, which basically takes up an entire oven rack.) Figure out what can go in the oven at the same time and what can come out early or go in the microwave if need be.
6. Open up the bar responsibilities.
In addition to their one dish, it's totally appropriate to ask everyone to bring one bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. If you don't, you'll end up having to foot most of the bill for booze and that will probably make you grumpy. And no one likes a grumpy host.
7. Give people permission to save money and cheat a little.
Who cares if your neighbor sautéed those green beans herself, as long as they taste good? Or if someone shows up with Two-Buck Chuck and stuffing they shook out of a bag? If someone wants to break into grandpa's wine cellar or make some kind of artisanal sweet potatoes, that's great. But let people know that this doesn't need to be fancy or budget-busting. They can buy something on the cheap or go all out — whatever they want!
8. Send a reminder.
Because reminders are always nice. Send it a couple of days before and use this time to confirm that everyone is still good to make their assigned dish.
9. Have plenty of aluminum foil on hand.
You're going to have enough dishes to wash and you probably don't want to have to wash everyone's casserole dishes or bowls. Just have lots of foil on hand and pull off a new sheet to cover the dish for them to bring home. You can also use foil to wrap up the leftovers you want to keep or give away.
10. Stock up on stain remover.
Someone is going to spill something. Trust me — it's inevitable. If it makes you feel better, your friend will feel terrible about it. Help her laugh it off by being prepared to clean it up right away.
11. Banish stress.
You have zero reasons to stress out. These are your friends who are coming over. If you're stressed, it will trickle down to your guests and ruin the party. So you overcooked the turkey? Slather that sucker in gravy and you can all laugh about it next year.
This blog was written by Ayn-Monique Khahre