Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving (or been looking for an excuse to put one on the calendar)?! You’ve arrived at the perfect place.
For some of us, Thanksgiving is an instituted tradition with the setting and set-up already dictated. Personally, I know that my current home size and family size wouldn’t allow for me to host the actual Thursday festivities, and that’s fine by me. Luckily, Friendsgiving allows me to host and try out the tablescape and turkey my way!
I brought together a group of women whom I’m lucky to work with, blog with, and/or personally grow with over the year(s), and we pulled off the most exceptional Friendsgiving I could have imagined.
In addition to great food and friends, we gathered for a great cause, No Kid Hungry, the leading movement committed to helping end childhood hunger. One in seven kids live in hunger in America today, and the nonprofit is working tirelessly to shift the statistic. We can contribute in a small but valuable way by centering our Friendsgiving meals around the issue and supporting No Kid Hungry’s work.
Join me in signing up to host your own Friendsgiving with Honeysuckle White to support an end to childhood hunger with the nonprofit No Kid Hungry: friendsgiving.nokidhungry.org. My tips, outlined below, will guide you to creating and capturing your most memorable Friendsgiving yet!
1. Take on turkey duty with delight
As host, you’re expected to take on turkey duty; but don’t let that intimidate you! Make it the centerpiece of your Friendsgiving, and you’ll deserve all the bragging rights. I’ve mastered a Honeysuckle White recipe that yields remarkable flavors with little room for error — I promise!
Did you know that Honeysuckle White was the first major food company to use blockchain technology to allow consumers to trace their fresh whole turkeys back to the family farm where they were raised? I was honored to visit one of these family farms with the brand last fall; and since that point, I have established that Honeysuckle White will always have a place on my holiday table. It doesn’t get more transparent or trustworthy than that.
2. Let your guests get creative - Delegate potluck dishes by ingredient
My favorite part of a potluck is giving friends the creative freedom to approach a dish through their perspective versus mine. Sometimes, it’s tough to let go of total creative control, but I’ve determined the best way to bring out the best of the season (without running into a situation of three pots of potatoes or too many pies!): assign by ingredient!
Here are the friendsgiving-appropriate ingredients I assigned to guests:
Keep in mind people’s skill-sets or dietary restrictions! If you have a guest who cannot cook, give her an easy one! Or, for example, my friend on the Whole30 diet was assigned “sweet potatoes” since she could be guaranteed to enjoy those herself.
You can go one step further by clarifying “sweet” or “savory,” as there’s a chance the balance could be too dessert-heavy otherwise.
3. Consider your oven capacity!
Make it clear to your guests that their potluck dishes should be ready to eat — and that means temperature-wise, too! For your Honeysuckle White turkey, make sure it’s already roasted (and carved) in time to avoid a messy countertop and make way for other last-minute warming needs. Need to make it the night before? Here’s a great guide for storing and reheating turkey breast.
4. Set the table the night before
You’ll wake up the day of Friendsgiving with understandable nerves (what if someone doesn’t show? What if we’re short on food? Did I remember to buy enough wine?) — but you’ll have peace of mind if your table is already guest-ready. Pull out the linens, extra chairs, flowers, and dish-ware the day before and set yourself up for success. Don’t forget water glasses! And I highly recommend place cards to leave no room for guessing.
My sweet friend Caroline Hughes created these custom place cards playing off of my grandmother’s china and fall leaves.
5. Forego major decor - Let food serve as a focal point
Flowers are a decadent treat in my home, so I gave direction to Everbloom Design for a gold and yellow array of organic blooms. Beyond the flowers and placecards, however, I kept crafty Thanksgiving decor at a minimum. For a feast of this kind, particularly when for a worthy cause to end childhood hunger, the bounty of food (that we are extra grateful for!) should be a focal point. Colors of autumn especially come through on a buffet like this one.
6. Prepare to-go packages (with a personal note of gratitude)
Feel free to challenge me, but I believe no Thanksgiving-style feast is ever fully devoured. I’m always overwhelmed by the leftovers beyond a few bites I want to enjoy the next day. As host, I aim to avoid the burden of boxes and boxes of food in our fridge after-the-fact!
My solution? To-go boxes that simultaneously serve as your party favor. Hand out a few boxes to each guest to load up with their favorite dishes and most coveted desserts they forgot to save room for. Once filled, tie each package with a note of gratitude for their presence at your Friendsgiving! I tapped my friend Caroline Hughes to also design a “thank you” tag that also reminds guests of our gathering’s cause No Kid Hungry, who is leading the fight to end childhood hunger. You can even add a longer note on the back about your friendship, if timing allows before the party.