Thanksgiving is on its way—and whether you’re a student away from home, or simply want to start a new holiday tradition, hosting your first “Friendsgiving” is a great way to celebrate!
Read on as we share a few of our favorite ways to host this holiday, including local Gainesville go-tos you can explore along the way.
Make your list
The first step to any successful Friendsgiving is the guest list—but unlike a formal dinner party, you should feel free to swap exclusive, carefully planned invitations for a casual “swing by!” text, call or email. Or you can embrace your creative side and design fun, festive invitations! Either way, Friendsgiving is all about embracing a carefree, come-as-you-are alternative to more traditional events. (Of course, some traditions—a.k.a. deliciously creamy mashed potatoes—are still worth keeping around at your Friendsgiving celebration.)
In addition to your close friends, you can even lend an invitation to neighbors, co-workers, or anyone you might know who doesn’t have Thanksgiving plans. There’s no greater gift than that of good food and camaraderie, especially on a holiday like this!
For perfect portions…
Every year, many of us—even seasoned turkey carvers—wonder how much turkey we should plan for each person. A good rule of thumb is 1.5 lbs per person, which gives your guests plenty to enjoy at dinner and when it comes time for leftovers, too. (As far as prepping the turkey goes, you can’t go wrong with a classic roast, cooked in a pan with veggies and plenty of butter!)
For sides like veggies, mac & cheese and potatoes, or sweet desserts, feel free to choose a batch size that suits your unique preferences. We all have that one dish, after all, that we just can’t get enough of!
Make it a potluck
You can also turn your Friendsgiving into a potluck meal for effortless entertaining. You won’t have to put in too much work to prepare the meal, plus your friends will enjoy the act of contributing to the feast with their own favorite flavors!
Opt for buffet-style serving
Another way to simplify your meal is to opt for buffet-style serving, which gives each guest a chance to craft his or her perfect dish (and return for seconds, thirds, and so on…). For a fun Friendsgiving touch, you can even put together an easy mashed potatoes bar that gives guests a way to mix in garlic, veggies, chives, cheese, gravy, extra butter or whatever else they may be craving.
Craft meaningful place cards
In lieu of a formal, elaborately designed centerpiece and place cards, stick to something simple—and very meaningful! One easy idea is to provide each guest with their own personal miniature chalkboard, where they can doodle as they dine or write down what they are thankful for.
Pick the perfect playlist
To put the finishing touches on your Friendsgiving feast, craft a relaxing ambiance with the help of your favorite tunes! Relaxing acoustics or jazz are easy go-tos for smooth sounds as you dine, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
Continue the Friendsgiving fun
The fun doesn’t have to stop when Friendsgiving ends! All week long, get into the seasonal spirit by exploring all that Gainesville has to offer. By this time of year, we often get to enjoy some seriously good weather, a quintessential “Florida fall” characterized by cooler weather, clear skies, and—if you look close enough—touches of changing colors in the trees that surround our area. Great places to see them in person include Morningside Nature Center, which features more than seven miles of tree-lined trails, as well as the lush expanse at Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park. (Wherever you go, just be sure to call ahead and check on holiday season hours.) You can also invite a few friends out for one of the live shows Gainesville’s arts and music scene is known for! Of course, if you need some sea breeze in your life, you can even make the drive to Crescent Beach, Gainesville's nearest coastal destination, for a day well-spent in the sand and surf.
We hope that today’s guide helps you throw a Friendsgiving to remember—after all, quality company is the perfect pairing for a delicious meal! Remember to swing by Peach Valley Gainesville this fall for warm, welcoming flavors that are sure to please—and a cozy atmosphere that feels like Friendsgiving all year long.