You guys, we can’t even being to explain how amazing it was to host our first Friendsgiving! We’re going to do our best, though.
What better opportunity than Thanksgiving to break bread with your besties and show one another how much you value and appreciate their friendship? We started talking about this event way back in July! We dreamed up so many ideas, many of which came to fruition, while others were scaled back when reality set in a little. So first, we want to share some of our ideas. While they maybe weren’t all realistic for us, there’s no stopping you!
- Flag football: we really wanted to host an afternoon flag football game before dinner. We did our best to make this happen but the weather wasn’t really on our side. Further, we planned to set the game up once our guests had arrived, which didn’t end up working out. Next year, we’ll let the boys plan this portion of the day ahead of time!
- An all-vegan feast: originally, our idea was to invite 15ish people and feature an all-vegan, non-traditional (but still fall-inspired) meal with our friends. We were going to prepare everything as well. We felt this would be fun because we’ve got friends who are vegan, others with gluten free needs, and others who are vegetarian. We wanted to make sure everyone could enjoy the meal and have a full stomach afterward. However, as we started discussing guests, we realized that keeping the list small was pretty tough. In the end, we decided it was more important to have the people we cared most about than the dream menu. We instead opted for a potluck-style dinner.
- A magical outdoor dinner: from the get-go, we envisioned everyone enjoying the meal at a big harvest table, celebrating together under twinkly lights and we were so thrilled when we were able to pull this off! While the weather wasn’t perfect, we were able to make the most of it.
- Some of our smaller ideas included having a great chef would prep the food on our menu for us, hiring a photographer, and setting up a Polaroid photo booth (we settled for making a Polaroid cutout instead).
So now that we’ve mentioned some of our big brainstorming ideas, let’s get right down to it. If you’re planning on hosting a Friendsgiving (really, any dinner party), start with the guest list. This will really inform all your other decisions. For instance, are you inviting enough people to make flag football possible? Are you inviting so many people that you can’t accommodate them all if they can’t drive home afterward? Should you take on the task of providing the entire meal, or is potluck more feasible? Etc.
For us, the guest list really informed our decisions about food. We had a specific number of people in mind while brainstorming ideas, but once we started listing the people we really wanted to have, it became pretty clear that making all of the food ourselves wasn’t going to be a realistic option. Not only that, but there were definitely some people we felt may be disappointed if we didn’t also offer the traditional fixings like turkey, so our menu and meal plan was changed slightly. Once we had the guest list (of around 30 people), it was time to really fine-tune the other details, starting with the meal.
We opted to go potluck style, but we did provide a sample menu for which guests could sign up for something on the menu or bring something else altogether. We felt that having a sample menu would provide guests with inspiration as to what to bring, ensure that people weren’t all trying to sign up for the same things, and hopefully ensure that we had meat-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free options for those guests with eating restrictions.
To keep things really simple for everyone, we created a Facebook event where we listed the menu and updated it as guests volunteered their contributions. We had originally discussed having custom invitations mailed out to the guests, but we needed to be able to easily track who was bringing what to the event, so we settled. To keep things simple, we covered the basics and asked others to fill in the missing pieces. (Stay tuned for this week’s Friday Five where we’ll share our sample menu and our five fav pies!)
From there, the meal grew as others contributed apps (bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, veggies and a yummy vegan dip, cheesy garlic bread and bruschetta, etc). The apps were perfect because the turkeys were cooked later than planned (we deep fried to save oven space), so there was something to keep everyone satisfied until dinner. While some of our menu items didn’t end up panning out (maybe we’ll have pumpkin ravioli next year), we were able to really fill out the table and ensure there was something for everyone! There was also a variety of wine, both white and red, during dinner and even some great seasonal beer for everyone to enjoy.
We strongly suggest the sample menu because it really helps ensure that you have a well rounded meal! We were able to ensure there was wine, ice, apps, a full meal and dessert without too much overlap, and everything was so delicious!
Once we had our guest list and menu planned, it was time to get to the fun details – the decor. This was a huge aspect of the party for us. We had our hearts set on enjoying our meal outdoors under the stars. First things first, we needed a table that would accommodate everyone at dinner. We connected with Lee Diamond Designs to use a harvest table and some rustic decor. His custom wood working business is just taking off and we strongly suggest you check it out, @leediamonddesigns on Instagram! His work is beautiful and custom, and it was just what we needed for this event. The table was honestly one of the biggest focal points and we couldn’t have hoped for better. In fact, we were a bit sad when we had to bring it back. We planned to surround the dining area with white twinkly lights and decorations in gold and metallics.
Mother nature seemed to have other plans in mind, and the whole weekend called for rain. We held off setting up until the last minute just to make sure the weather would hold out, as we really wanted to avoid bringing the meal inside. It just wouldn’t have had the same ambiance. We were fortunate enough to only get a light mist on and off throughout the day, and the tree limbs provided the perfect canopy to keep us dry! We were a bit afraid the lights wouldn’t provide enough light on their own, but when dinner was pushed back from 6ish to 8 and the sun had fully set, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the lights and candles were just perfect. We also had a fire going in the yard, surrounded by Muskoka chairs and cozy blankets! With dinner delayed past dark, it was truly magical!
We accented the table with tons of white candles in varying sizes and mini gourds, as well as some small white pumpkins. We also decorated a second table with tons of fresh greenery, mini white pumpkins, and candles in a planter box. Everything was accented with gold. We couldn’t resist gold mylar balloons spelling out Friendsgiving against a backdrop of gold streamers, triangle banners, and DIY tassel garlands. There really aren’t enough words to explain how pleased we were with the ambiance!
We also set up our flag football field by painting lines in the grass and creating bleachers out of straw bales, in keeping with the rustic tone.
We just love how this evening turned out! And of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing group of friends. We even had a tough time narrowing down the photos. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We’ll be sharing more in the coming days!