I love a good party. I mean, who doesn’t?! The dress-up, over the top cheese plates, signature cocktails, and your best friends? My ideal night. I love hosting friends – I always strive to have my home be a cozy little oasis from city life, where everyone feels comfortable and at ease. Most people that come over never want to leave our comfy couch. 🙂 We hosted a Friendsgiving this year, and it was the epitome of just that – cozy, fun, and (maybe) a little over the top. We have enough leftovers to feed an army. I think our 20 friends each took 1-2 full plates home with them! Here’s a little recap of our perfect pre-holiday with the best of friends.
Decorations and Set-up in a City Apartment
Of course, I’m always a little over the top when it comes to party planning, so I like a few decorations to get people in the spirit. This time, I kept it simple with a decorated bar cart, candy jars filled with chocolate, and fun table cloths. I always make sure to do a big deep clean a few days before, and light lots of candles to set the mood for an evening party. For Christmas, I’ll dig into my trusty decoration box, but I figured it was a bit pre-mature for a Friendsgiving. We also wore turkey headbands I found on Amazon..ha! I figured I could re-use them for the actual holiday since my family is super into going all out with the festive props.
I usually will set up a big rectangular table up against the wall of our kitchen, and clear off all of our kitchen counters so that we can have a place for guests to place their dish they brought, and create a “U” shaped buffet in the kitchen. We’re lucky to have a pretty open floor plan at our place, so I placed most of the appetizers on our dining room table, where people usually congregate at our parties. I then had hard cider and Pellegrino on our bar cart, and turned our large console into a bigger bar, with a signature cocktail, all the fixings, and wine. Don’t forget to have cups, wine/beer openers, straws, an ice bucket, and drink napkins. I set up a few bowls of nuts and chocolates on other corners of the living room, then had a smaller table on the opposite side holding a few more appetizers. We moved everything around once it was time to eat.
I rented a long table and chairs, so that the entire 20 person dinner party could all sit together – no one wants to be sat at the reject plastic table in the corner. We really wanted it to be inclusive and mimic what an actual Thanksgiving dinner table would look like. Having a huge table with all of our friends prompted amazing conversations, a few small blurbs of saying grace, and definitely a few wine-induced “what we’re thankful for” speeches! My heart was so happy (and full) on Sunday. There’s nothing better than a huge table cramped into your little city apartment with all your friends gathered around.
Music! This is so important for setting a fun vibe. I played a mix of holiday music, a Friendsgiving Station, and the Easy Listening Station.
Before dinner, we played a name game, where everyone said their name along with something they like. Sounds a bit too PG, but a lot of our friends didn’t know each other well, so this created an open, and relaxed vibe so that people could easily start getting to know each other.
We played a super simple Thanksgiving drinking game that I found on Pinterest. All you need is a pen and paper for each guest. Guests are to write down three things they’re thankful for, while keeping their notes very general and broad. You mix up all of the papers and pass them out to guests. Then, go around one by one, and each person has to guess whose thankful note it is. If they guess incorrectly, the whole group drinks, and if they guess correctly, the owner of the thankful paper has to drink. This one loosened everyone up real quick!
We had some friends bring wine as their party contribution, but made sure to have a festive signature cocktail, and a few bottles on hand just incase. I also always have pre-filled water pitchers and Pellegrino.
This year, my signature cocktail was made in a large vase, served punch-style. I added spiced apple cider, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vodka, then mixed in red and green apples, and fresh cranberries to make it pretty! To be honest, I didn’t follow a recipe for this, and would advise you to just taste test it along the way as you make it – that’s what I did anyway! It was a huge hit. I served it with ground cinnamon and sugar for the rims, cinnamon sticks, and super cute Friendsgiving straws I found on Amazon.
We provided the turkey (which we purchased pre-cooked from Whole Foods), a signature cocktail, appetizers, Tartine Bread, and few extra side dishes and desserts. I listed out what else we needed in our Facebook Event, and our guests chose which side dish, dessert, or wine they were bringing. This ended up being the best plan, and it made it easier to prep day-off. Our friends also went above and beyond and our “buffet” of food was incredible.
For apps, I made a killer cheese plate, inspired by one of the many cheese Instagrams I follow (haha), fun cheese balls, a veggie/hummus platter, and my boyfriend made fresh ceviche and crab cakes from his fishing trip in the bay. What a feast!