Hosting Our First Friendsgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! I am so excited that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. On Saturday, we hosted our first Friendsgiving. It was such a treat to fill our home to the brim with loved ones and great food! It also completely shifted my perspective on hospitality and making the most of what you have. I am so glad we decided to open our home and make Friendsgiving happen!

Minted

Our Heart Behind It
At the beginning of the month, I was thinking about holiday traditions and our heart for people. The summer and early fall were so incredibly full for us that we began to really miss being regularly surrounded with community. The idea of hosting friendsgiving seemed like a perfect way to start a tradition and host a big, everyone-is-invited party! At first, I almost wrote it off as too much work and wondered if our friends would be too busy to come! The excuses can so easily pile up. But instead of making excuses, we decided to go for it. We invited more friends than we had space for, and I’m so glad we did.

Our Guest List
I wish you could have seen Dillon’s face when I showed him my proposed guest list of 22 friends. We both kind of laughed because we have enough seating for maybe 10 people at most. But we couldn’t imagine leaving anyone out, so we invited every name on the list. As the ‘yes’ list began to grow, we considered hosting it at one of our parents’ homes to have more adequate space. I’m so glad we embraced our space exactly as it is, ultimately making space for 16 loved ones!

Inviting Friends
After we had had our guest list, I created a private Facebook event and invited everyone through that. This served as a free invitation and allowed for easy RSVPing. I considered using Minted’s free digital invitation service because their invitations are so beautiful (above would have been my chosen design), but those are sent via email and we didn’t have everyone’s contact for that. The Facebook event was a helpful way to get an easy headcount as the event approached, and it made for fun posts as some of our guests shared pictures on the day-of as they cooked food to bring.

Food
While I would have loved to provide our friends with a fancy turkey and all the fixings, we decided to honor our budget and host our party pot-luck style. I created a simple categorized spreadsheet through Google Drive to ensure that all the foods were covered. I simply made the sheet public and shared the link through our Facebook event, using TinyURL to shorten it.

Our friends quickly filled the spots and we had more than enough food! Dillon and I supplied some coffee table snacks and  the ‘turkey’, which was 3 fresh rotisserie chickens from Sam’s Club. I contemplated doing a full turkey with a brine and all the basting, but decided to keep things simple.

Seating
To maximize our space, we nixed tables and decided to do a more casual seated dinner. Our apartment is so small that this was pretty much our only option, but folding tables with sweet tablecloths would have been lovely if the space allowed! We set our dining chairs around the room and used our table to serve the food buffet-style. To ensure we had enough seating, we borrowed a few folding chairs from our church. We tucked them out of the way when guests arrived, only setting them out once the meal was ready.

Helpful Logistics
My sweet friend Hanna offered to bring paper plates, plastic cutlery, and cups. This was a huge timesaver, since we don’t have a dishwasher! The hostess in me wanted to serve our guests on our dinnerware with formal flatware, but the disposables were much more practical and made for very easy cleanup!

The day before our party, I posted in our Facebook event to direct our guests on where to park so they didn’t have to wander around on the day-of. I also asked them to bring a spoon to serve their dish, labeled with their name. This ensured that we didn’t run out of serving utensils! It’s also helpful to ask if anyone needs to use the oven or an outlet for a crockpot to prepare accordingly.

Once guests arrived, we warmed up any dishes that had cooled in their travels. Dillon offered a blessing before the meal and dinner was served once all of our guests had arrived and settled in. Our friends can really cook – the food was so good, y’all! After everyone finished eating, we played a game of fishbowl and enjoyed dessert. It was such a sweet, life-giving evening!

Read about Thanksgiving in my childhood home here.

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