Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and have an easy week ahead filled with good food, family, and friends! We kicked off our Thanksgiving celebrations this past Saturday by hosting our annual Friendsgiving get together. This was our first ever dinner party we hosted for our friends at our little apartment 4 years ago! We've done it every year since and pretty much have a great system down now for making the day run as smooth as possible. We use the same plan to execute Thanksgiving for our family now, too. Today, I'm going to give you a run down on the ins and outs of how we make these two parties as stress-free as possible! It all starts with the timeline, and I am going to base it off of this upcoming Thursday for all of you that will be hosting Thanksgiving at your place!
Guest List - 1 Month Before
It all starts with who you are inviting to your get together. For Friendsgiving, we make a list of our friends that live close or will be visiting over the weekend that would want to join us for the occasion. From there I put together invitations and mail them out about a month in advance. Remember, the holidays are a crazy time for everyone, so we need to give our guests enough time to figure out where they will be around this time. As the RSVPs start rolling in we either mark down on a list what they have offered to bring or start asking them to bring specific items to fill in the gaps. For deciding where the gaps are, start your list based off of what you want to make. I always make an appetizer and dessert. Caleb always makes the main dish, and we decide on a drink of the night together. So when our friends or family start asking what they want us to bring we reference that list and can see where we're lightest. We do the same thing for actual Thanksgiving with our family. We make a list of everyone so we know how many people we're starting out with and take their names off if they are unable to make it. Our Friendsgiving usually runs around 10-15 people and Thanksgiving usually runs around 20-25 people. I personally like to use Notes on my phone to keep track of the guest list and menu so it's all in one place and on something that I always have with me.
Shopping - Monday/3 Days Before
If you haven't done your Thanksgiving shopping yet don't worry, you can still do it tonight! Based off that menu list you have created with your guest list you should make a grocery list of everything you need that you have committed to making as well as any gaps left of things you'd like to have throughout the evening. For example, maybe you weren't planning on making a salad but no one else offered to bring one or got assigned to bringing one and you feel that you should have one. You should look up a yummy fall salad on Pinterest and add those items to your grocery list. You should also make a list of other things you might need like more chairs, napkins, plates, candles, decorations, etc. It can be anything under the sun. Whatever you have in that vision of yours as your perfect Thanksgiving. REMEMBER: Do not put your turkey in the freezer if you go shopping on this day though. This is the last day your bird should stay in the freezer. You should start defrosting it on this day so that it is thawed out by day of.
Cleaning - Tuesday/ 2 Days Before
This is the day you should make time to deep clean your house. By not trying to do this the day of or the night before you will have way more time and less stress with getting into all those pesky nooks and crannies. By doing this early, as well, you might spot things over the next couple of days that you missed and then those are only a couple of things you need to clean instead of everything all at once. On Wednesday and especially Thursday, I will spot clean and keep tidying up the house since we still will be doing our normal day to day stuff at home.
Food Prep - Wednesday/1 Day Before
We prep a lot of our food the night before the get together. Everyone likes to make different things for their Thanksgiving dinners but to give you an idea of the dishes we like to start the night before here is a little list: roast the yams for yam balls, bake the pecan pie, clean the turkey, prepare poultry seasoning and put that between the skin and breast of the turkey, rub the outside of the turkey with olive oil and pink salt, and make the cranberry sauce. One extra tidbit I want to add for you all is how Caleb makes his gravy so good. He actually uses the bones, gizzards, and drippings from the Friendsgiving turkey to boil a turkey stock. He boils it every day leading up to Thanksgiving for a couple hours and then the day of he uses that to make the gravy that is used for the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.
Day of Prep - Before Guests Arrive
The day of the get together tends to always be the most stressful but that is why your prep work and game plan is so important. The first thing I do the morning of is I bake the pumpkin pie and make the yam balls. That way I'm done with the oven early on so Caleb has room for the turkey and stuffing. After I'm done in the kitchen, Caleb takes over with putting the turkey in the oven. I will then do one last tidying up and spot clean of the house (including dishes) and we will do our special set up to accomodate all of our guests. We set up extra tables and clear off our table setting from our dining room table. I will also clear off our coffee table, so our guests have places to put their plates and cups down throughout the night. I then get ready for the day so that I'm not rushing upstairs in case any of our guests arrive early. About an hour before everyone is suppose to arrive I start making my appetizers, light some candles, make sure the temperature is set to a good number so our guests aren't too hot or too cold, and set up appetizer plates/napkins/silverware. I turn all the lights on and make it feel as welcoming as possible.
When our guests start to arrive I take care of the welcoming them inside and getting them drinks, since Caleb is in full force in the kitchen preparing more food like sides and checking on the turkey. I'll do my best to make the rounds and make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible and catch up with everyone. In between convos, I'll keep an eye on empty plates and cups and either refresh them for our guests or throw them away/wash them. I grab things for Caleb that he may need during these little breaks, as well. Once we're getting close to serving dinner I'll excuse myself and start swapping out the appetizers for the main meal in the kitchen. Since we have so many people at both get togethers it does not make sense to do a seated dinner with all the food on the table. It would be too crowded and hard to serve the food at two separate tables. Instead, we do buffet style. I put the appetizer plates away and bring out the dinner plates and refresh the stock of silverware and napkins. I'll help prep the salad, dinner rolls, and get all the serving utensils ready for all the sides Caleb and our guests have prepared. Once everything is all set in the kitchen we'll announce dinner is ready and all of our guests then make their way around the buffet and pick a seat to enjoy their meal. We always eat last to ensure our guests are comfortable and get as much food as they want. After dinner, I will go around and collect everyone's plates and do a few dishes. I don't like to be gone from our guests for too long so I do a little bit at a time all evening long when I get up to refresh drinks or run to the restroom. I would say I do about 5-10 minutes worth every 30-60 minutes. That way there isn't a pile of gross dishes sitting in the kitchen and it's less that I have to do when everyone goes home. About an hour after dinner I will start to set out desserts. I like to put these on the tables so that I can leave the main meal dishes out in case our guests want to take some home with them. It is also one less time our guests need to get up, too and they can just keep picking at all the treats that we have. When our guests begin to leave I always walk them to the door, give them a big hug, and thank them for coming!
The Clean Up
Once everyone has left, Caleb will help me finish cleaning up. Since I try to do dishes all night long this usually doesn't take too long. We'll load the dishwasher up and run it, wash and dry the rest by hand together, and wipe down the tables. The next day we will put the house back together by putting our center pieces back, breaking down the extra table and chairs, moving any furniture that we had to move out of the way back to its original spot.
And that's it! There is the whole run down for how we make Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving run so smooth! It works so well every year and this year's Friendsgiving went off without a hitch by following this plan. If you have any questions for us please leave a comment below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I also love to know what everyone loves to eat on this very special day so please leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite Thanksgiving dish is!
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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