· The Invitation List. It’s a good rule of thumb to invite friends who are grateful to share your table. Stick with a good group of people who are unlikely to create stress or drama. Try to invite like-minded friends and those that you think will get along well. Set a simple rule upfront that some topics are off limits such as politics, religion, and how the Cubs won the World Series!· Keep It Simple. There is very little point in hosting a dinner party if you don’t enjoy it. The easiest way to do this is by keeping everything simple. What’s most important is your guests are happy and comfortable. Set a minimal table with a couple of candles and a little nature, like pinecones or greenery in a glass vase. Skip the formal dinner setting—save that for a family Thanksgiving or Christmas. Make it even easier by setting up a buffet table where your guests can help themselves. This also makes clean-up faster.
· Set a Meal Theme. Since this isn’t a traditional Thanksgiving, feel free to have a little fun. Pick a theme such as Throwback Thanksgiving and have friends bring side dishes that were popular in another era. You can also ask your guests to dress the part. It will make for a memorable Friendsgiving! You can also step completely away from the typical fare of turkey and mashed potatoes and go with Mexican, Italian, or Asian. Or be bold and order pizza with store bought pies. Shortcuts are welcome here. You’re not trying to impress your mother-in-law with this one. Just remember to ask everyone to bring a side dish to help make your job easier, go potluck for the entire meal, or order it from a local restaurant.
· Delegate Responsibilities. These are your friends and they’re going to want to help you out and you should let them. It will make the day so much more relaxing if you’re not stressing and overworked in the kitchen. If you have friends that are meeting for the first time, helping out is a great ice breaker. Jot down the tasks on post-it notes and have everyone grab one on their way in the door. You may find your boyfriend’s best friend doing dishes with your old college roommate. What an easy way to get the conversation going, “How about you wash and I’ll dry?”
· Don’t Forget the Entertainment. No Friendsgiving would be complete without entertainment! Are any of your friends musically inclined? If so, have them bring their instruments and get a sing-a-long going. Another fun activity is karaoke. You can pick up a home karaoke machine very reasonably or find a used one. Put on some fun music and encourage everyone to pick a song. A simple homemade photo booth will also keep the fun going. Just hang a sheet or tablecloth on the wall, lay out some props and signs to hold (like “Friendsgiving 2016—Where You Can Pick Your Friends”). You can simply use the camera on your phone or let your friends use their own phones for photos.
· Give Back at Your Friendsgiving. In America, 1 in 5 kids are struggling with hunger. Your Friendsgiving can make a difference. By hosting a No Kids Hungry Friendsgiving, your guests can have fun enjoying your dinner party while also giving to a worthy cause. No Kid Hungry will offer tons of resources to make your event a success from fundraising tips to exclusive chef recipes. Or you can simply ask each guest to bring a canned good to the dinner to donate to the local food pantry.
· Don’t Forget to Uber or Lyft. Dinner parties like Friendsgiving usually include cocktails and wine. Relaxing and having a couple of drinks is expected. Just make sure your guests get home safely by calling Uber, Lyft, or a taxi.
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