As I have said before, many many times, Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday. I have always loved this day for its traditions, food and family time. But over the past few years Thanksgiving has had another holiday give it a run for it’s money: Friendsgiving.
Sure, Friendsgiving may not be a real word… but just a quick Google (or Instagram or Pinterest) search will tell ya it’s getting real popular real quick. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Merriam made it official in the next round of words added to the dictionary. Basically, Friendsgiving is a Thanksgiving-esque celebration with all your friends! It can be held anytime around the Thanksgiving holiday, even on the day itself if friends aren’t able to make it home for the holiday! It’s basically an excuse to throw a dinner party with the yummiest foods with all your favorite non-blood related people. I mean, can you think of anything better?
Me neither 😉
The beauty of this new holiday is that it can really be celebrated anyway you like. Make it a brunch, lunch, or dinner! Play or watch football! Wear festive costumes! Start traditions! Stuff your face! Anything goes!!
I was pretty excited about hosting my first Friendsgiving at our new place this year. And thanks to falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole more than a few times, I knew exactly how I wanted to do it. We are lucky enough to have an INCREDIBLE backyard that we’ve modeled a lot after Parenthood (obviously), so the location was a no brainer. I decided to do this dinner as a potluck, for a few reasons:
2. It saved me SO much time and stress
3. It made it a thousand times easier to plan and decorate day of (especially budget wise)
and 4. Potlucks can be really fun! And really lend to the community gathering feel I was going for 🙂
I kept the decorations (relatively) simple, making most of the decor myself or from the dollar/thrift store. I really love a good DIY challenge AND a good thrift store challenge and this party was the perfect excuse to do both! My goal was to make the place festive while keeping the over-all feel comfy and casual, which, I think, is really the beauty of Friendsgiving. Fancy dinner parties are great, don’t get me wrong. But I definitely love a good relaxing casual night with good friends and good food most of all.
I honestly can’t wait to make this an annual thing, especially since the response from friends was so warm and positive! Check out the pictures below to see how I decorated the place as well as some tips and tricks I learned along the way and some potential ideas I’m already planning for next years Friendsgiving!!
I completely forgot to take pictures once all the food was actually on the table, but its easy to imagine this simple tablescape with tons of delicious food around it! I chose to cover my table in kraft paper because, although I LOVE my turquoise dinning room table, blue doesn’t quite “go” with Thanksgiving… The brown kraft paper went really well with my cream spray painted sake bottles and the mini-white pumpkins and pinecones! Plus it made me less concerned about potential messes, it’s easy to clean up, and a roll is like $10 at Walmart. Score!
The easiest way (I think) to up the Friendsgiving game is to use real plates, glasses and silverware. Because I had anywhere from 10-20 people coming throughout the evening I knew I would need more plates/glasses. I had been wanting to get a bunch of dinner plates that we could use at parties that were cheap (so we wouldn’t care if they were ruined or someone broke them), durable outside, and looked decent. My suggestion for cheap, durable, don’t-care-what-happens to them plates? The Dollar Store or Walmart. I got 15 off-white dinner plates for 88 cents each at Walmart (WHAT) and then grabbed a few more plus some glasses at the dollar store. They are the greatest things ever to have on hand. I mixed them in with some of my grandmothers hand-me-down yellow plates and it was just perfect!
Because I went a liiiiiiiiiiittle overboard at the flower market I ended up with a ton of left over baby’s breath… But I mean, 2 HUGE bundles for $5?! Can you blame me?? While most people consider baby’s breath to be a summer flower, I think it can work just fine for fall in the right context. So I sprinkled most of it around our chandelier. One friend even said this was his favorite part of the whole house!
Ahhhh the Friendsgiving sign. Y’all this was a test of patience (of both mine and my AMAZING friends who helped me make it). It’s practically impossible to have a party for millennials these days without having a photo wall. But because I was on a budget I couldn’t afford the normal Instagram-worthy mylar letter balloons (13 letters x $3.50 per letter = $45!!!! Nope nope nope). So after I saw this tutorial I knew I could DIY my own for wayyyyy less. I used the same cotton pads from the tutorial ($1 at the dollar store) and some gold tissue paper ($3 from target for a HUGE pack) and ended up making each letter for LESS THAN A DOLLAR. Though it took a while, it was fun! My roommate collected leaves from the yard, hole-punched them, and strung them up for an eye-popping background! I was real proud of how it turned out 🙂Aaaaand what’s a photo wall without props 😉
Now onto the outside…
See what I mean?! Parenthood for sure!! I have another blog post coming all about this amazing backyard and how it went from eye-sore to everyone’s favorite part of the house. But for now, let’s talk Friendsgiving planning/decor. This AMAZING table can seat about 16 squished or 12-14 comfortably. Lucky for me we had people rotating in and out all night so it never got too crowded. And as much as I love a huge centerpiece, I think it would have been too busy out here, and the table is actually pretty skinny and people need room to eat!! So I kept it pretty simple yet again, filling it with $1 gourds from the grocery store, discount flowers from the flower market, mix-matched chairs from flea markets and craigslist, and candles from the dollar store in candlesticks I scored at a garage sale years ago (isn’t great when you FINALLY have an excuse to use random things you bought ages ago?! #hoarder)
Because I couldn’t find mason jars at the Dollar Store I decided to get these cans of Spanish beans and salsa! I actually liked how they turned out better than the mason jars would have, plus they are bigger!!
Probably one of my favorite DIY/Re-purposing projects was this old door (I found on the side of the road, hollaaaaaa) that became an outdoor serving station! I painted the door white and painted the windows (because they had a weird color to them) with leftover chalkboard paint from my coffee table. I got some wall shelf hooks from the Do It Center (about $7 each), drilled them into the door, and set some leftover plywood we had on top to make shelves! I still have to go back and drill the plywood into the shelving hooks, but I ran out of time (oops). But all of this held up really well considering! We have an old trunk (another garage sale find, $10 I think) supporting it at the bottom which was the perfect place to put our crate of silverware and napkins!
And there ya have it! Below are some little touches to the night that I think made all the difference 🙂
1) Blankets, blankets, blankets. It ended up being about 65 degrees, which for LA peeps is basically icetown. So I threw my ever growing Mexican blanket collection over a few chairs for people to use during dinner!
2) A place to recover from the inevitable turkey-coma. Ours was our massive outdoor daybed (wait for the blogpost y’all…omg!!). It was the perfect place to curl up with friends under all the Mexican blankets and play 20 questions under the stars. Don’t forget to decorate whatever area you choose with lanterns and flowers for a cozy, fall night feel!
3) Gourds/pumpkins and flowers. Probably the most under-appreciated decor option, but the one that makes the biggest difference. Adding some pumpkins and gourds here and there as well as some strategically placed flowers can really set the party apart from the rest.
4) Subtle scents. Most people use candles (myself included) but when I found these cinnamon scented pine cones I knew I had a winner. If I lived in an area where I could find pine cones on the ground I would have baked them in cinnamon myself, but that wasn’t an option. And these were only $5 for a huge bag at my grocery store!!
Next year I will probably have something (either place mats or somewhere on a chalkboard) where people can write what they are thankful for. I would love to DIY some kind of pool lights (I’m working on a Chinese lantern contraption right now!) and maybe DIY some benches to go around a fire. I also plan to take lots more pictures in the years to come of the actual event haha! Below is the only picture I got once the party started!!
I hope this post has inspired you to host a Friendsgiving and/or Thanksgiving! It really can be so simple (especially if everyone else does the cooking 😉 ) But it’s so important to spend time with your friends and be thankful. Plus who doesn’t love laughing and eating the night away?!
Have a happy holiday friends!!