Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving season with an annual Friendsgiving feast! Whether you’re bending the holiday rules due to shared custody or just need a break from tradition, a Friendsgiving Meal allows you to spend this relaxed but significant time with friends who are like family!
We are a blender family. As many of you blender families know, to survive the holidays, what with visitation and the constant coming and goings of every day, you need complete flexibility and a willingness to bend the holiday rules if necessary, to ensure that you have a meaningful season regardless of who’s year it is to have the kids.
We share custody of two of our girls, and alternate holiday visitation every year. The years we do not have them on Thanksgiving Day, we often plan a pre-celebration on a different day. It’s our way of giving them the experience of a large, family-style dinner, surrounded by people that love them, even if it doesn’t fall on the right day of the calendar. And, so it was that Ca-Merican Thanksgiving was born – our affectionate name for our annual Friendsgiving feast. The annual dinner, with all the fixin’s, we share with all of our children and some great friends, who, we a) are thankful for, b)think of as family, and c) lucky for us, are willing to eat turkey twice in a week.
IDEAS FOR THROWING A FRIENDSGIVING FEAST
DECORATE THE TABLE
Just because Friendsgiving isn’t exactly traditional doesn’t mean the decor can’t be! I set the table with autumn colors of orange, gold and green.
Holiday crackers are a fun Canadian tradition in my family – they are a huge hit! I was so excited to find these at Target for fall, but I’ve also been known to make my own!
SERVE A YUMMY POTLUCK
In creating the menu, I tried to serve dishes that were at least slightly different than we’d all be having on Thanksgiving Day. All of our guests brought yummies to share making this truly a Friends-giving!
Start with simple appetizers to keep everyone happy waiting for dinner. Mixed nuts and pistachios, a veggie and dip tray, and a cracker, cheese and sausage tray are all easy and relatively inexpensive options. A bowl of goldfish was a favorite with kids. I’m weird, I love bread and butter pickles with my sausage and cheese cracker sandwiches, and I also like canned oysters, packed in oil, with cream cheese and crackers. You’ll also find a bit of both pickles and oysters on the counter.
Turkey and ham are a no-brainer.
Keep it traditional but add a twist – Mini pizzas all dressed up as fun, and funky turkeys gave the kids something to talk about. Pillsbury pizza dough and turkey pepperoni, with turkey printouts, made making them not only a snap but fun!
WHIP UP A FEW SIDES
SERVE DECADENT DESSERTS
One of our guests slaved over and brought a fantastic pumpkin cheesecake with a graham AND gingersnap cookie crust. It was AMAZING. You can find a similar recipe here.
Pumpkin pie tarts, using a basic pie crust (I used Kroger brand refrigerator crust), and a no-bake filling – again, amazing, and so, so easy. I used a scallop-edged flower cookie cutter and a muffin pan to pre-bake our shells and then filled with this no-bake filling. We topped with whipped cream right before serving. Yum!
White chocolate pudding cups, dipped in chocolate and seasonal sprinkles, with a Hershey kiss and nutter butter acorns were a fun and kid-friendly addition to the dessert table. This idea came from Stephanie Keeping at Spaceships and Laserbeams, a favorite blog of mine.
Pecan pie bars rounded out the list of more traditional desserts with a bit of a twist – a shortbread crust, with an ooey, gooey topping had me eating more than my fair share of these. I’ll probably be working them off until Christmas, at least.
We also served apple-crisp bites.. bite-size bundles of oh, so good apple crisp. Chelsea has a plethora of amazing recipes to share – do take a look around her site if you have the time.
One of the benefits of having a Friendsgiving Dinner is the lack of pressure for it to be perfect! You’re surrounded by friends who know the goofy side of you! Keep it light and casual, or plan it to be laid-back and boozy (if you wish). Either way, it’s so much fun!
The evening was filled with great food, great conversation, many shenanigans, even more laughs, and much love. As always, we have much to be thankful for. Here is hoping you have just a great a day celebrating with the ones you love – whoever they are, and whatever day that is! Happy Thanksgiving!