How to Throw A Friendsgiving Party Everyone Will Rave About

How to Throw a Friendsgiving Party Everyone Will Rave About

Oct 31, 2023Anita MacKenzie

Thanksgiving is a special occasion that brings family and loved ones together. For some of us, this holiday may involve attending two family dinners if both mothers decide to host it. If you’re someone who so enjoys celebrating Thanksgiving that you wish it had a sequel, you may want to throw a Friendsgiving party this year. It's a great opportunity to count your past blessings with your close friends while creating some new memories to be grateful for.

When should you throw your Friendsgiving bash? Unlike Thanksgiving which has an official date (the fourth Thursday of November) and since some people have to travel to be home with family for Thanksgiving, hosting it beforehand is the best option. Others like to pick the week after to keep up the celebrations. If you don’t have a preference, why not ask your friends what works best for them?  

For the most part, Friendsgiving parties are less formal, so when you send out or text your invites, let your guests know to wear something casual and comfortable. (We know an associate who insists on everyone wearing baggy sweatpants so they have plenty of room to indulge!)

What about drinks? As the host, you can stock up the bar and create a special signature Friendsgiving drink. If you do, keep it simple and easy to prepare. However, if your friends have unique drink preferences and/or your budget doesn’t allow it, a BYOB (bring-your-own-beverage) invite won’t be out of line for a casual, intimate gathering with friends.

Our friend Minda ( makes this delicious cranberry cocktail for two that could easily translate into make-ahead mocktails or a refreshing non-alcoholic punch. Flavored ice cubes with whole cranberries, mandarin orange pieces, rosemary sprigs, and cranberry juice make this cocktail special. And to make it appealing, garnish glasses with cranberry cocktail picks.

Hint: Make the sugared cranberry picks by threading sugared cranberries onto a cocktail pick. 

Need a theme for your Friendsgiving party? Whether you’re a first-time host or a party-throwing maven, we’ve put together some fun ideas for hosting a Friendsgiving party your friends will rave about.

Put on a Potluck

The original meaning of potluck had to do with unexpected guests, who would undoubtedly be lucky (or not!) to enjoy whatever was in the pot that day. The meaning has changed over the years to become a gathering where everyone brings a favorite dish to share. In the old days, when people got together to eat after the barn raising, everyone brought what they had on hand.

While it can be fun to just let your friends bring their favorite dish and see what sort of feast appears, there are some positives to a more planned approach. For one, you won’t end up with a table full of yams, pumpkin pies…or mountains of potato chips from the non-cooking crowd! 

Party tip: If you’re doing a traditional meal with the turkey bring the star of the show, tell your guests that you will prepare the turkey, stuffing, and gravy, and ask them to bring along a supporting cast of side dishes. Or create a sign-up sheet divided into categories and have everyone add their dish to the sheet. That way you can fill in the blanks for a full-course meal. 

In the US, potlucks were popular in the 1950s. It was a great way to swap recipes and enjoy new dishes. Why not ask guests to write or print out the recipes for their dish and leave a copy beside the dish? That way if a new dish hits the spot, a guest can take a snapshot of the recipe with their camera to take home and try another day. It’s also a handy way for anyone with food intolerance or sensitivity to see the ingredients without having to guess.

Important note: A true food allergy affects the immune system and even a small amount of the wrong food can trigger a range of symptoms that can be severe or life-threatening. Do any of your friends suffer from food allergies? It needs to be common knowledge to everyone!

Throw a “Not Turkey” Dinner Party

"What did the turkey say to the turkey hunter on Thanksgiving Day?" "Quack, Quack!"

Sometimes the best part of gathering friends together for a Friendsgiving celebration is that it gives everyone a break from turkey.

Why not host a pasta night? Serve your guests some wine and start the evening with an antipasti board. Like a charcuterie board, antipasti platters include cured meats, cheeses, and additional bites like roasted and pickled vegetables, fruit, bread, and assorted dips. 

Have at least two different kinds of pasta on the menu, like a lasagna (always a crowd-pleaser) and gnocchi with pesto. Add a fresh green salad, and a roasted vegetable, and serve delicious almond ricotta cake for dessert. 

Say Cheese with an Appetizers-Only Dinner Party

How'd the Thanksgiving cheese platter go over? Everyone was grateful.

Another low-stress alternative to throwing a Friendsgiving dinner party is serving delicious finger foods. It’s also a great way to introduce new culinary delights.

There are different ways to do this. You can use a long countertop or large kitchen island to create a grazing table with an assortment of appetizers for guests to help themselves. A portable card table will do the trick if you don't have a countertop. Cover the table with butcher paper or parchment table and place the food directly on the counter or table.

You can also set out individual marble boards and wood trays. Cheese and charcuterie boards are easy to carry back into the kitchen for refills.

Party tip: No need to splurge on everything; buy basic cheese and meats that everyone enjoys. Make it an affordable adventure by asking your friends to bring a favorite traditionally crafted artisan cheese for everyone to try.   

Salome, Cupid and Faron trays for a grazing board

Make it a Bake Off

“What is a turkey’s favorite dessert? Peach gobbler!”

Do you and your friends share a love for all things sweet? Then a bake swap might be in order! It can be an old-fashioned cookie swap where everyone bakes their favorite Christmas cookies and you send your friends home with goodie bags and cookie recipes for the holidays.

Sometimes getting friends together for dinner can be difficult at this busy time of year, so why not forgo the cookie swap and have an after-dinner dessert-only party? Everyone can bring something sweet…home-baked or store-bought.

Couple getting cookies out of oven

Organize a gift exchange

Best buds who want to spread love and gratitude can organize an after-dinner gift exchange. Whoever hosts the Friendsgiving gathering will have to a) send out cards with the name of a friend that person will buy for and b) make sure everyone invited gives and receives a gift.

Make the exchange fun, fair, and easy. Discuss a comfortable price range with your friends beforehand and make sure to mention it on the invite. Gifts under $25 could include a picture frame (with a photo of the two of you), a pair of movie tickets, scented candles, or for the plant lover a new plant in a handcrafted ceramic planter.  

For gifts under $50, a thoughtful present for a cheese lover might be a set of cheese knives, or for martini lovers a set of olive spoons.

Another way to show your gratitude for all you have is by asking friends for a food or cash donation to your local food bank. 

Scrabble letters form the word Thankful

Give Thanks with a Gratitude Board

Start a new Friendsgiving party tradition. Set up a chalkboard and chalk at the entrance to the party and as guests arrive have them write down a few things they’re grateful for. After everyone has gone home, take a photo of the board. You can send it out to everyone in a group text message or email or keep it for next year’s invitation.

Friendsgiving Facts

After being on a “words we’re watching” list for a while, Merriam-Webster dictionary officially added the word “Friendsgiving” in January 2020.

Rarely seen online or anywhere else previously, the word “Friendsgiving” was used in a 2011 Bailey's Irish Cream ad campaign.

Soon other companies jumped on the Friendsgiving bandwagon, with Butterball filing for trademark protection for “Butterball Friendsgiving” in August 2013, and then in November of that year, Taco Bell hosted a social-media Friendsgiving meal at their headquarters in Irvine, California.

Whenever this made-up holiday officially began, it's now a popular choice for friends, coworkers, and “holiday orphans”.

We wish a Happy Friendsgiving to all our friends.



Title photo:  Kelsey Chance on Unsplash 

Photos: Hannah Busing and Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Friendsgiving video: Joseph of @GC Dolce Living


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