Friendsgiving: Stress Free Edition

Kathleen Jenkins – November 14 2017

I’m a firm believer that a little bit of time with your friends is quite simply food for the soul. Once or twice a year I attempt to get all my favorite people in one room. In the spirit of all things cliche; it’s magical. There is no better time than between Halloween and Turkey Day to make this sort of event happen; the ever popular and almost famous “Friendsgiving.” Considering I plan events for a living, this sort of gathering must be easy, budget-friendly, and a damn good time.




The idea of cooking up an entire Thanksgiving-like feast in a Chicago apartment is daunting. I mean I only have one oven that fits exactly one small turkey. Therefore, I do just this, make one turkey. Whether you brine, fry, or simply roast a turkey is delicious and is certainly worth being the centerpiece of your table. No interest in cooking a bird? Northern Fork has a complete list of holiday menu items that we are happy to drop-off at your home.


Instead of freaking out and buying two or more slow cookers, I’ll ask my guests to do a bit of work. With each invitation, include a requested food or course to your meal and make sure they RSVP with their course. And we all have that one friend who is an incredible baker so naturally, make sure they’re in charge of dessert. And maybe one of your friends isn’t very cooking or baking savvy, so have them supply the wine, game or décor!



Maybe you’d really like to challenge your guests to be “Top Chefs” by assigning secret ingredients (one per person, of course) like apples, sourdough, pumpkin, whatever sounds delicious. Your guests will then have to decide on a recipe using that ingredient! Making your event a bit of a group effort will lessen your stress and help with the “Holy crap, we have six pies and no side dishes, now what do I do?”



In the spirit of celebrating (and not going entirely broke) go with a few bottles of wine, a non-alcoholic cider, and sparkling water. There are so many full-flavored, and affordable wines on the market that one quick trip to the grocery store and you’re all set. I’m a sucker for great glassware and I always find unique pieces for my collection at the Randolph Street Market. Still clueless on what wines to buy? Northern Fork’s, Ellyn Cook, recently discussed the perfect fall wine pairings.



Table Setting

Whenever I think of planning the perfect “table-scape” I always think of the queen herself; Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa. That woman can throw weeds from her garden on a dirty tablecloth and somehow it would be perfect– and she’d say, “How easy is that?!” I, however, stress about every detail. Taking a page from Ina’s handbook, I once again try to keep things simple. I find that adding “real” linens to your party dresses up the occasion. I love a light gray table cloth, simple white plates (they don’t have to match) and a festive napkin do the trick. Think “essence of the season” not “there’s a giant turkey on my napkin looking at me while I’m sitting down to eat turkey.” Floral print seems to be all the rage these days, I love these napkins from Sur La Table. Finish your table off with a few random unscented votive candles, a simple white and green flower arrangement and you are ready!




I always think a get together is more fun when a little something special is thrown into the mix. Whether it’s the perfect playlist (thanks Spotify), a well drafted toast, or even a silly game I love when a host(ess) steps up the typical conversation. Find a friend, or challenge yourself, to come up with a festive and memorable way to cap the evening. I’m not asking for a full-blown murder mystery party but maybe a “name that movie” game, a “what I’m thankful for” list, or something way more creative than what I’ve got.


Above all else, find an excuse to spend some quality time with the ‘family’ you’ve chosen. The ones who have been there for the best and most certainly the worst of times. As each friend head out for the evening give them a hug and tell them why you love them. After all, isn’t that the true meaning of the holiday season?

Need a side dish recipe?

Check out our Wild Rice and Brussel sprout video. Or save time and order from us!

For a few more Friendsgiving ideas, check out these blog posts;

A Trendy Budget Friendly Friendsgiving

Casual and Organic Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving: Table Decorations for Thanksgiving with Friends

How to Throw a Memorable Friendsgiving for Under $100