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How to Host a Great Friendsgiving

How to Host a Great Friendsgiving



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Have fun with friends this Turkey Day

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If you typically reserve the holidays for family, you’re not alone. But around Thanksgiving, there are many groups of people to be thankful for.

Friendsgiving is the joyous combining of food and friends before, after or on Turkey Day. But “Friendsgiving” didn’t quite reach its national prominence until 2011 when Bailey’s Irish Cream used the term in a promotion.

If you’re new to the Friendsgiving concept, you might be wondering how to plan the perfect get-together. Here’s a guide to guarantee your gathering is a success.

Don’t go overboard on the guest list

iStock.com/EvgeniyShkolenko

When hosting a Friendsgiving dinner, it’s important to be mindful of the number of people that can comfortably fit in your home. Don’t invite your 100 closest acquaintances. Work with the space that you have and make sure your friends will be comfortable moving around without the fear of knocking over a lamp or tripping over your couch due to overcrowdedness. And even if you keep your party small, don’t be afraid to mix different friend groups together. You never know who might get along. Inviting too many people is one of the top mistakes a host can make.

Prep your home

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Before you host any party, it’s important to clean your house (especially the dirtiest places in your home). Your Friendsgiving celebration can be as formal or as casual as you’d like it to be, but having a clean home before inviting others over is etiquette 101. If you are choosing to go the more formal route, make sure to have enough table space, seating and flatware for all of your guests. If you’re lacking table space or seats, rent some card tables and folding chairs. If you need plates, silverware, or serving vessels, go disposable.

Make it a potluck

Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

One of the best benefits of Friendsgiving is allowing your friends to show off their cooking skills with fancy new dishes or family-secret recipes. Keep a list of who is bringing what to avoid having four different types of stuffing or the same casseroles. And be sure to let your guests know how many people are attending to avoid not having enough food for anyone. For example, if your friend is in charge of bringing the vegetables, they should prepare four ounces per guest.

Provide the turkey

Bochkarev Photography/Shutterstock

Out of all of the Friendsgiving guidelines, this might be the most important. As the host, you should always provide the roasted turkey, even if your party is a potluck. And be sure to buy a big bird for all of your friends. There should be one and a half pounds of turkey per person. And once you’ve decided on the perfect recipe for your holiday bird, take the steps to learn how to properly carve it to avoid these common mistakes.

Stock up on snacks

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You’d be surprised how much people enjoy snacking, even after the main course has been cleared. Be sure to provide appetizers and post-meal snacks for your friends to munch on. Because the rest of the meal will be a more involved affair, keep the snacks simple. Basic staples like chips with guacamole can make a difference.

Keep the booze flowing

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At the end of the day, Friendsgiving is one big party. Encourage your friends to bring a few bottles of wine along with their potluck dishes, and have your own stockpile as well. Typically, one bottle of wine per four guests is recommended when you’re hosting a party. But if you want to ensure that your Friendsgiving is a raving success, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution and have a little extra or to diversify your alcohol offerings with beer and mixed drinks.

Set the “thankful” mood with a playlist

iStock.com/Eva-Katalin

If you want your party to be truly great, don’t forget the music. Create two playlists for your party. Make the first one for dinner with more relaxed tunes and Thanksgiving-themed songs (think Ray Charles’ “Sweet Potato Pie” and Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time”). Then, the second playlist is where you can turn things up with dance-friendly hits and old-school party favorites. Ask your friends for song recommendations when you send out invites to get them enthusiastic about hitting the dance (or living room) floor.

Use a photobooth

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Make your Friendsgiving the envy of your social network by setting up a photo booth. You don’t need an actual booth to do this: Just hang a bunch of streamers against the wall in your home that has the best lighting. And don’t forget the props.

Play a few fun games

iStock.com/SeventyFour

After the dinner table has been cleared, a great way to get everyone up and moving before the urge to sleep sets in is to throw a few games in the mix. Anything from a game of charades to “Never Have I Ever” is a great way to bond, especially if your Friendsgiving group fairs on the smaller side.

Find a way to give thanks

iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."


The 10 Essential Rules for Every Friendsgiving Host

Thanksgiving with extended family comes with its own set of rules, and they’re usually as unique and particular as the families themselves. Friendsgiving, however, is an entirely different story. That’s because Friendsgiving is, at its heart, a potluck, not a longstanding family tradition. And like any good potluck, there are rules for engagement to ensure it comes off without a hitch.

If you’re hosting Friendsgiving this year, we commend you. It’s a big undertaking with lots of planning involved. If you’re nervous or a little in over your head, remember these 10 rules and you’ll be fine.

1. Do not attempt to host Friendsgiving dinner alone.

Remember, Friendsgiving = potluck. This should go without saying, but I was once a young, over-ambitious food lover with too much time on my hands, so I know there’s a legitimate temptation to “do it all.” Resist, for the sake of your own well-being and that of your friends. They want to enjoy the best of you on this happy holiday, not the stressed-out worst.

2. Plan ahead.

Send out your invite as far in advance as you can, so the procrastinators have time to procrastinate and the planners have time to plan.

3. Create a flexible menu plan.

But know that you are the one with the oven just a few feet from the dining table, so that means you will have to make the turkey (and therefore the gravy too). Once you have the menu outlined, ask guests what they’d like to contribute to it. This way you can make sure all the essential Thanksgiving dishes are covered. When you have a house full of guests expecting their annual serving of green bean casserole, somebody better be making it.

4. Embrace technology.

The easiest and most effective way to plan a potluck is with a sign-up sheet everyone can access, so you can stay organized and not have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth questions. Google Docs is free and easy. Or try online planners like Perfect Potluck.

5. You can direct but not demand.

Managing the menu is good, but micromanaging the guests is bad. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask people to bring specific dishes to avoid duplicates and make sure the essentials are covered. But remember it’s an ask, not a must. Don’t assign a dish or, even worse, a recipe, unless the guest asks for one. Nobody wants to feel forced into cooking something or feel handcuffed into a particular version of it. If there’s a special family recipe you really want someone to take on, you can ask someone to make it, but don’t be upset if they decline.

6. There’s nothing wrong with too much food.

With a dinner like Thanksgiving, people tend to have not just a favorite dish they’ve been looking forward to all year, but also their favorite version of it. That means, even if the stuffing has already been claimed, someone might lobby to bring his or her favorite version too. It may be unnecessary to the meal, but it’s probably essential to your guest’s happiness, so just let it happen. Besides, there can never be too many carbs on Friendsgiving.

That being said, if two people have their hearts set on bringing the same dish, encourage them to bring different flavors, so you don’t end up with an informal taste test.

7. Be inclusive.

Don’t forget that the holiday is all about inclusivity, so check with your guests to see if they (or their plus-ones) have any dietary restrictions. If non-meat-eaters are coming, make sure there’s at least one hearty dish that can serve as a entrée-alternative to the turkey. With any luck, the non-meat-eater will volunteer to bring it.

And think about whether or not any of the other dishes can be slightly altered so everyone can enjoy them. Maybe you can use vegetable broth in the mushroom stuffing instead of chicken broth, olive oil in the mashed potatoes instead of butter, and put the bacon bits for the green beans on the side. If other guests are bringing these dishes, check in with them and see if they’re willing to make these modifications. But remember rule #4: It’s an ask, not a must.

8. Don’t forget to include non-cooks.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. People who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, are too busy to cook, or are traveling from afar can bring all sorts of essentials: non-alcoholic drinks, wine, bread or rolls, cheese trays, pies from the bakery, condiments, bags of ice, and even flowers for the table.

9. It’s not all about the food.

Speaking of flowers, don’t forget that this is a holiday, so make the effort to add a little festivity wherever you can. Resist the temptation of disposable plates and cutlery, play music, decorate the table with fallen leaves and fruits, put out some (non-scented) candles. If you have room, you might even set out playing cards or board games.

10. Stock up on disposable containers for leftovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parting gifts, plus it’ll spare you from having to play fridge Jenga for the next week. You can certainly encourage your guests to bring their own containers, but some are likely to forget.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is "Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World's Favorite Grain."