Your Guide to Friendsgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t limited to family. This year, show your friends how grateful you are to have them by hosting an event in their honor.

The days surrounding Thanksgiving are some of the busiest of the year: just look at the staggering lines that form at airport kiosks, gas pumps, and grocery stores at each end of November. While Turkey Day often evokes memories of fun cousins, goofy aunts, and wise grandparents meeting up over a hearty meal (then crashing in front of an on-screen football game), there’s much to be said about celebrating with your friends that have become family. In fact, these gatherings, commonly referred to as “friendsgivings,” have become pretty commonplace across the country — including in Mid-Missouri. 

From Charlie Brown and his crew chowing down on toast, jelly beans, and pretzels to Monica, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel sitting down for a meal with a meat trifle and three kinds of potatoes, there’s no shortage of reference points for buddies convening for a special meal. Off-screen, friendsgivings can be shaped to fit a variety of needs. Maybe you’re new to town and away from your relatives, so you lean on your friends to fill the void. Or maybe your old high school classmates are coming back for a holiday visit and a reunion is in order. Perhaps you just want a break from family drama and some time to vent with your girlfriends over a bottle of wine. Whatever your reason, our guide can help you plan the ultimate friendsgiving and maybe even start a new tradition in your life.

Dark wooden table adorned with large pumpkins running down the middle, full place settings, lit candles and metallic geometric objects
Photo by Missy Creed McFerron
Get The Look

To set the tone for your celebration, try adding seasonal, natural tones to your space. You can easily elevate your tablescape by incorporating fresh greenery, like a seeded eucalyptus runner and heirloom pumpkins. Candles placed at staggered heights allow you to play with height without blocking the views of those across the table. 

To accent everything, add in some metallic elements. Silver, yellow gold, and rose gold all do a great job of bouncing light around and adding a soft radiance. Depending on how formal you want to go, consider hand-lettering name tags. When guests know where they will ultimately be seated, it allows them a place to sit down their things and mingle with those they’ll be seated further away from during dinner conversation.

Photo by Rachel Hays

Don’t shy away from kitsch completely, though. A tried-and-true photo booth (complete with festive props, of course) can liven things up and encourage guests to record memories in the moment. Today, there are also plenty of plates, napkins, and other decor made specific for friendsgiving events; pick up a few to make it feel like an intentional occasion.  

When it comes to appetizers and drinks, let guests be in control so you can focus on greeting everyone. There’s nothing wrong with making your event BYOB or asking friends to bring an appetizer to share. Regardless of the route you take, designate a special space to display wine, a variety of beers, and plenty of non-alcoholic options. According to Total Wine & More, the general rule of thumb is that 50 percent of your guests will prefer wine, 30 percent will prefer beer, and 20 percent will prefer mixed drinks.

Photo by Rachel Hays

The meal is the main event and there are several ways to approach it. At most Friendsgivings, the host is in charge of the turkey. When it comes to prep, do your research and don’t hesitate to think outside the box; fried and smoked turkeys offer a unique flavor and texture. If catering is more your jam, several Jefferson City establishments provide takeout turkeys around the holidays. 

When it comes to sides, keep guests’ dietary restrictions in mind. Inviting others to prepare and bring beloved recipes is a safe way to make sure everyone has something they’ll enjoy, and it’s a special way to learn more about your friends and their traditions.  

a table full of miniature pecan, pumpkin and apple pies
Photo by Rachel Hays

And don’t forget the goodbye! Stock up on leftover containers so your group can load up and have an easy meal the next day. To keep the spirit of friendship going after the party ends, send guests home with something sweet, literally. Miniature pies are the perfect thank-you gift and an even better midnight snack — regardless of if you’re still stuffed with turkey, potatoes, and other fixings. Bake (or buy) them in a variety of seasonal flavors, like pumpkin, pecan, and apple, so everyone can choose their favorite.


A little competition can help keep the fun flowing long after tryptophan kicks in. Just be mindful of your party size when selecting a game to play.

Giving Thanks
Classics are classic for a reason. Why not go around the table and share what you’re thankful for? Shake things up by writing everyone’s comments on leaf or feather cutouts, then stick them on the wall for everyone to see and try to guess who wrote what.

Tried-And-True . . . With a Twist
Grab your favorite board game and come up with some “new” rules to stick with your theme. Hand out double points in Scrabble for laying down words that relate to the season, act out fall films for an upbeat game of Charades, or develop some new fill-in-the-blank cards to toss in the pile during Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.

Basted Bingo
Print out some special sheets (download ours for free) and then pay close attention. Mark off a spot every-time someone says “turkey,” jokes about something being burnt, tells a story about a funny relative, and more. The first person to fill out a card wins: perhaps the centerpiece or any leftover pie?

Raise a Glass

There’s no better way to mark an occasion than saying a few words and clinking glasses. If you’re looking for inspiration, borrow some famous remarks to get things rolling.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

 John F. Kennedy

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

Maya Angelou

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” 

Willie Nelson

Spread The Word

In 2019, there are myriad ways to invite folks to your shindig. Choose one that makes the most sense for your group of guests.

Facebook Event
Take advantage of today’s technology by creating a private Facebook event that includes the details of your gathering. This is also helpful option if you’re hosting a potluck because guests can comment what they’re bringing — and that helps you avoid having all veggies but no cranberry sauce.

Text or Call Chain
If your crew already communicates via group text on a regular basis, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Send out a message or commence the call chain so everyone is in the know; you can even start early so the date is saved in advance.

If your crew already communicates via group text on a regular basis, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Send out a message or commence the call chain so everyone is in the know; you can even start early so the date is saved in advance.

Mailed Invites
In this digital age, it’s hard to top the thrill of receiving “real mail” that’s not a bill. Hop on Etsy or work with a local designer to create the perfect invitation. Be sure to include multiple ways for your guests to RSVP.

Download our free invite, name and recipe card printables

Mood Music

Whether you jam out during meal prep or hit play while you’re dining, add these songs to your Friendsgiving playlist.

“Harvest Moon” – Neil Young
“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge 
“Home” – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
“What A Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
“Forever Young (Fast Version)” – Bob Dylan
“Thank You” – Dido
“With A Little Help From My Friends” – The Beatles
“Thank You For Being A Friend” – Andrew Gold