Friendsgiving

A time to practice gratitude, enjoy the company of friends and test your cooking skills.

A Little Background

Choosing to host Friendsgiving was a super easy decision. I had just settled into my first apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and was excited to welcome friends into my new space.

Calendar coordination proved to be quite the task, but once we landed on a weekend, the invitations went out.

Digital white envelope liner with seasonal foliage

Digital Invites FTW

When I’m hosting a personal event, I prefer to send digital invitations for a few reasons, but my number one reason is for convenience.

Digital invites via platforms like Paperless Post offer automated RSVP tracking, enclosure cards, embedded links to external sites, and capabilities to send follow up messages to specific groups of guests (perfect for inquiring about dietary restrictions and food allergies).

A few other reasons I prefer digital invites…

  • Invites can be edited even after they’ve been sent out.
  • Tons of fully customizable and user-friendly design templates.
  • Relatively inexpensive invitation suites compared to traditional printing methods.

Lastly, there are so many aspects of events that are unfortunately unsustainable and not so environmentally-friendly. Opting for digital invites can #savethetrees and reduce waste.

Friendsgiving digital invitation with seasonal foliage boarder and brown and orange writing

Concepting

Somewhere in the process of dreaming up Friendsgiving and sending out the invitations, I started a Pinterest board.

When I need to narrow down theme options and decide on a color palette, Pinterest is usually the best platform for me to see all of the options, and curate the ideal look and feel that I’m after.

These are some of the pins that sparked the most inspiration.

Over the next few months, I populated an Event Deck with inspiration images, household items that I planned to use, and links to products that I intended to purchase.

It was my Friendsgiving deck that led me to purchase my first set of china, which I still love!

Menu Planning

Menu planning is one of my favorite things to do. I find it so satisfying to surf the web and flip through books to create a menu that people will enjoy, and tell a story that they will remember.

As much as I love to cook, I’m also a big fan of convenience. Spare yourself the time and effort where you can, by relying on other people and places to add to the table (no pun intended).

I lean on local businesses whenever possible; the butcher down the street for meats and cheeses, the bakery with fresh pies and cookies, and local floral boutiques, to provide fresh, seasonal products that guests love.

Friendsgiving Menu

AppetizerCheese Spread from Bedford Cheese ShopSparkling Apple Cider Sangria
First CourseRoasted Butternut Squash Soup
Apple, Cranberry, Walnut Salad
Veuve Clicquot
Main Course & SidesTurkey
Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Corn
Candied Yams
Green Beans
Fresh Rolls
Zinfandel, Rose, Assorted Reds
DessertApple Crumb Pie from Martha’s Country Bakery
Ice Cream Sundaes
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Snickerdoodles
Moscato

The above menu coincided with a fairly length grocery list, as I’m sure you can imagine. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will note that I found it much more turnkey to list the ingredients and quantities needed under the heading of each recipe, for reference when we began to cook.

Event Flow

I only invited a few friends, who were all coming in from out of town and stayed with me for the weekend.

My timeline officially kicked into gear on Saturday morning. Starting with breakfast at home, into shopping around Williamsburg’s boutiques, to visiting the waterfront, and returning home for Friendsgiving festivities to begin.

Photo of me by the water!
Photo by Alex Munteanu

This is a much looser run-of-show than I would compose for a client, or for an event with more moving parts. Still, referencing a framework of to-do’s and next steps kept me on track as the day unfolded. Creating this in advance also helped ensure I wouldn’t forget anything on the day-of.

Timeline

MorningPrep
– Go to Bagel Smith for Bagels
– Cook Quiches
Breakfast:
– Assorted Bagels
– (2) Quiches
– Corn Muffins
– Seasonal Fruits
– Mimosas
– Coffee & Tea
AfternoonCheese Plate
– Slice Cheese
– Jams in White Ramekins; Refrigerate
– Wash Grapes; Refrigerate
– Nuts in Italy Bowl, White Vase and White Ramekins on Top Shelf of Bar Cart
– Crackers on Top Shelf of Bar Cart
Bar Cart
– Remove Items from Top Shelf
– Square Blue Ravello Plate to Top Shelf
– Cheese Board to Top Shelf
– Chalkboard Cheese Signs on Cheese Plates
– Menu Sign on Gold Easel
– White Pitcher on Top Shelf (Sangria)
– Straws in Water Glass on Top Shelf (from under sink)
– Cocktail Napkins on Bar
– Plastic Cups on Bar
Bake Cookies
– Snickerdoodles
– Chocolate Chip Cookies
– Store in (2) Shallow Bowls and Cover w/ Tinfoil
Whipped Cream
– Place Bottom of Mixer and Large White Vase in Freezer to Chill
– Make Whipped Cream & Transfer into White Vase; Cover w/ Tinfoil and Store in Fridge
Peel and Chop
– Sweet Potatoes
– Butternut Squash
– Yukon Gold Potatoes
Late AfternoonPrep
– Make Sangria and Move to Fridge to Soak & Chill (White Pitcher)
– Light Festive Candles
– Turn on Music
– Netflix Fireplace on TV
– Set Table
– Prepare Apples for Salad
– Decide Team Captains for Recipes; Cook Away!
Dinner– Place Out Cheese Spread and Sangria Pitcher
– Shift Music to Jazz Playlist
Bon Appetit!– Pour Champagne
– Soup in Bowls; Garnish
– Invite Guests to Dinner
– Toast
– Enjoy First Course
– Clear Soup Bowls; Clear Floral Arrangement; Place Wooden Salad Bowl in Center of Table w/ Wooden Tongs
– Guests to Self-Serve Salad
– Enjoy Second Course
– Put Dinner Rolls in Oven
– Clear Second Course
– Invite Guests to Buffet
– Bon Appetit!
Gold and marble bar cart made cheese board for Friendsgiving appetizers

A Little Reflection

Friendsgiving was the first gathering I hosted (back in 2018), and it was a massive learning experience.

It was a team effort between my friends and I to prep, cook and clean everything, (which was no easy feat in a small apartment without a dishwasher!) but we divided and conquered by designating captains to take the lead on each recipe.

Champagne glass with Friendsgiving dinner in the background

We toasted to health & happiness, played a Thanksgiving-themed trivia game, and shared all that we were thankful for. I’d love the chance to host Friendsgiving again soon… though next time, it might be a potluck.

Friendsgiving place setting, with white coupe china, and roasted butternut squash soup in a bowl

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