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Ramona King


Your guide to throwing an epic Friendsgiving dinner

So you’re hosting your first Friendsgiving. Up until now chances are that you either always gone home to spend Thanksgiving with your family or other friends have hosted. Hosting is a huge adult milestone and one not to be entered into lightly. For many Americans, Thanksgiving is an incredibly special holiday that is both nostalgic and incredibly personal. Pulling off a delicious and memorable Friendsgiving is no easy feat.

Not only are you probably going to shell out a fair amount of money in order to feed your friends, but you might also be faced with different and conflicting expectation on what, say, the turkey and dressing should taste like. Don’t worry, by following this guide you’ll have a foolproof road map to not only ensure you’re serving some amazing dishes, but also making memories and new traditions all on your own.

Get a head count
If this your first time opening up your home and cooking for a party this large you’ll probably want to get a head count. Consider sending out a mass text, email or even invitation and try to get people to RSVP. This is integral to figuring out how much food you actually need to purchase and cook.

If you’re choosing to have a more potluck style dinner, getting a head count is also important to assigning everyone something to either bring or cook.  

Create a simple menu
I know you might want to show off your cooking skills but you’re going to want to keep this menu super simple. That doesn’t mean you can’t jazz certain classics up. If you’re tired of the expected turkey, fry it. Can’t imagine eating another spoonful of mashed potatoes? Put truffle oil in them. Simple doesn’t have to mean boring! And since you’re hosting a massive event, take some of the expected stress off your shoulders and execute a solid menu.

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Keep table decor easy and elegant
If you’ve ever gone down the Pinterest décor rabbit hole, you know the possibilities in regards to decorations for Thanksgiving. While you may be tempted to bust out your best DIY and create name cards and bespoke squash decorations, please don’t. Your energy can be better used elsewhere (like coming up with cocktails). Consider getting brown craft paper to use as a sort of table cloth. Not only can guests write on them, once you’re done with dinner it’s easy to just throw it away.

Another option? Tea lights and acorns can be purchased in bulk and are a relatively inexpensive way to set the mood.

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Speaking of setting the mood
Music goes a long way to setting the tone for the evening. A great playlist will help put your guests in the mood and give them some direction in terms of what kind of event they’re in for. No, you don’t have to spend hours selecting individual songs you want to play. A lot of streaming services offer curated playlists already or you could always select an artist you like and play a radio station based on that.Have your drinks ready (a lot of them) 
Make one large batched cocktail and make sure there is plenty of wine as well. The absolute last thing you want is to be making people cocktails to order. Also ask friends to bring their favorite bottle (or two) of wine with them when they arrive. You’re cooking after all!  

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Send everyone home with leftovers
Thanksgiving leftovers are almost more exciting than the day of dinner. To ensure that you’re not stuck with a months worth of leftover turkey day goods, make take home containers available to everyone and encourage your guest to each take home a portion of food before they leave.Remember to be grateful
Moments such as these truly make up a life. Remember during the hustle and stress of the day to take a moment to be grateful for the friends that have chosen to gather with you and observe a holiday that is all about appreciating what you already have. How lucky are you.

Photo (mashed potatoes): Cynthia Hoyt
Photo (cocktail): Kate Williams
Photo (dinner table): rawpixel/Unsplash

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Ryan Shepard is the editor-in-chief at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously.