The Soho House guide to the perfect Friendsgiving
With the right amount of preparation, it might be the most fun ‘holiday’ of the season
Tuesday 22 November 2022 By Austa Somvichian-Clausen
The holidays are made for celebrating with, and showing gratitude for, the people we love. With that being said, the event we’ve come to look forward to the most each year happens to be one that isn’t on any traditional holiday calendar: Friendsgiving.
The chill, unproblematic cousin of Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is your annual opportunity to play host – welcoming friends into your space for a night of good food and great conversation. Unlike the more formal occasion of Thanksgiving, which is traditionally spent with family, Friendsgiving is a no-stress time to share dishes, swap stories and enjoy drinks among the closest in your circle. Plus, Friendsgiving has no officially designated date, which means you can plan to host it whenever works best for you and yours.
Need help pulling it off? Read on for our personal tips on how to plan a seamless Friendsgiving this year and every year.
Send out a digital invitation to build up excitement
Rather than just shooting over an informal group text message, set a more intentional tone for this year’s Friendsgiving by sending out an official invitation with all the necessary information. Not only will it show your thoughtfulness right off the bat, but your guests will also be able to refer back to it if they have any questions about the time, place, or what to bring. Try using a simple, free service to create a beautiful digital invitation, like Paperless Post if you prefer email, or Partiful if texting is more your thing.
Keep a shared planning document
Another major differentiator between Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving? The potluck-style meal that defines the latter, with each guest typically bringing a dish or two of their choice to add to the spread. The potluck is one of the best parts of Friendsgiving, as each person gets to show off their cooking or baking chops and share their favourite recipes with the group.
Easily avoid any duplicate dishes or major meal gaps (who’s bringing the cranberry sauce?) by using a simple Google Sheet or other shared planning document to keep track of each friend’s contributions.
Be mindful of allergies and dietary restrictions
There’s nothing worse than a guest getting sick from a Friendsgiving feast, or not being able to dig into anything at the table due to their restrictions. We suggest adding a column to the shared planning document mentioned above, or requiring each guest mention allergies and dietary restrictions with their RSVP.
Having all of that information up front will help you when it comes to planning and preparation. If one or more of your guests is vegan, for instance, it might be good to provide a meat-free gravy for them, or to warn dessert-bringers of any guests with nut or gluten allergies.
Use music to curate a vibe
Music is such a powerful tool for creating ambience, whether you prefer smooth jazz, funky alternative, or bumping rap. Vinyl-lovers can take their guests on a musical journey by playing our limited-edition vinyl compilation series, which consists of three records to represent the moods and styles within the Houses.
Create spaces for easy conversation
In anticipation of Friendsgiving night, try moving some of your bulkier seating arrangements around to better facilitate mingling, creating more openness in your layout. If possible, we also suggest providing seating options for smaller groups in the form of cosy conversational corners. If you’re short on space, large cushions placed on top of soft rugs work well, as well as footstools around the coffee table.
Batch your cocktails in advance
Trust us when we caution against becoming that host who is constantly in the kitchen, shaking up drinks for your guests. Providing delicious cocktails is a great move for Friendsgiving, but creating a large-format batched option will allow you to stay in the conversation. A perfect example for the season is the Old Fashioned, which is easy to make (our recipe calls for Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select, Angostura bitters, simple syrup and orange) and ideal for sipping throughout the night.
After picking a crowd-friendly stirred drinks recipe, keep a big batch of it in a fashionable drink dispenser or punch bowl. Keep glasses on hand, so that guests can easily serve themselves when their cups get low. Additionally, you can also pop open a few bottles of wine or Champagne, and keep them chilled and accessible inside standing coolers.
Have condiments and sauces readily available
Other than decor, the finishing touch to any Friendsgiving potluck table is the condiments, sauces, and serving tools. Setting all of these out before the meal begins will ensure that your guests won’t be wandering into the kitchen on the hunt for extra salt, butter, or a serving spoon for their macaroni cheese. Instead, turn your guests’ favourite flavour enhancers into part of the table setting, with stylish and practical additions such as a salt and pepper cellar, a green marble butter dish, a ceramic gravy boat, and stainless steel serving utensils.
Perfect your dinner table ambience
A beautifully appointed Friendsgiving table needn’t be overly fancy or fussy – instead, try using flowers and foliage to create a naturally warm effect, like mixed greenery bouquets, and foraged leaves as place cards.
Softly glowing dinner candles are instant mood setters when displayed in simple yet beautiful holders, and soft linen napkins are a great way to elevate any home dining experience.
Keep the night going with games and drinks
Just because the meal has come to an end doesn’t mean the night has to. Instead of letting the energy taper off with dessert, try serving your guests a pick-me-up Espresso Martini, which you can keep ready in the fridge until required.
The next order of business is gently redirecting guests over to cosier seating options, or simply clearing the dinner table to make room for card games, conversation, and a nightcap.