10/09/2015 08:06 EDT | Updated 10/09/2016 05:12 EDT

How to Throw the Ultimate Friendsgiving

Whether it's as an expat abroad or just one province over, those of us living away from home can't always make the trek back for Thanksgiving. This usually results in a healthy dose of FOMO for the holiday festivities back home, but not to fear -- friendsgiving is here!

Lisa Peardon via Getty Images

Whether it's as an expat abroad or just one province over, those of us living away from home can't always make the trek back for Thanksgiving. This usually results in a healthy dose of FOMO for the holiday festivities back home, but not to fear -- friendsgiving is here!

The best part about friendsgiving is that you can put in as little or as much effort as you want. Whether you want to go all out Martha Stewart style or throw something together last minute, read on for tips on how to have a fabulous and stress-free friendsgiving.

Who should you invite?

Besides bonding with your current crew, throwing a friendsgiving dinner can be a great way to strengthen ties with acquaintances and make new friends. I've been blessed with an amazing group of Canadian transplants in the U.S.; like- minded, fun-loving, and equally sentimental about Caesars, we met through professional ties and became close thanks to Canadian gatherings like friendsgiving. Now, we're a little fr-amily!

Once you have some folks in mind to invite, consider how likely they are to attend and how much space the host or hostess has available. Don't feel bad about limiting headcount based on logistics or space, a good rule is to fill spots with close friends first.

If you're inviting some newbies into a close knit group task a few of your more outgoing friends with making sure they feel welcome, especially if you're hosting. Whatever you do, don't invite anyone who can't mingle or tends to be abrasive; a personality who doesn't mix can kill the friendsgiving vibe really quickly.

Who is going to host?

Many of us are living in big cities, and are short on time and space. Either way, I suggest the person with the largest living space and the most tolerant neighbors host the dinner. If you're running low on chairs but you don't want to cut your guest list, invest in a few folding chairs or even rent them.

Get festive, the easy way

There is no need to spend hours making hand painted name cards or intense flower arrangements. Try a bouquet with some red, orange, and yellow flowers or even a few small pumpkins in the middle of the table for a quick décor fix (all readily available at your local Safeway). If you want to get crazy, spring for some new table linens in a fall appropriate color you will use again; any shade of brown will do. Go pick some colorful leaves from outside to scatter them around the table.

Before the guests arrive, set the mood by teeing up some nice jazz on Spotify. If you're going to put candles on the table, just make sure they aren't scented. A tropical breeze scent doesn't mix well with a savory diner.

Make it a non-negotiable potluck

Assign one person to monitor RSVP's and have guests sign up for dishes they'll bring in a shared Google sheet, so no responsibility is lost in an string of emails. Keep on top of any laggards to make sure nothing important is missing from the menu.

Make sure items are combined in a way that ensures effort and costs are fairly allocated. Even suggest a few easy and small-kitchen friendly recipes to guests. For example, boiled and mashed yams with maple syrup and butter, or a chilled green bean salad with slivered almonds.

If someone is too time constrained to cook, they can bring extra wine or pick up dessert. If no one is bringing extra, I suggest that it be mandatory for each guest to bring a bottle of wine.

Plan ahead for turkey

If you go the turkey route, it works best for the host to take this on since they don't need to transport it. The designated turkey person should plan ahead: buy early, google cooking directions, and have someone else take care of the stuffing. Stove Top stuffing is delicious and available at your local corner store. Eating out of a box once a year won't kill you!

Alternatively, we've cooked small chickens or turkey breasts for friendsgiving to save space and time. A whole roast chicken is equally delicious and takes a fraction of the time to cook.

To pumpkin pie or not?

Pumpkin flavoured everything (yogurt, cheesecake, ice name it) is all the rage right now especially if you're near a Real Canadian Superstore; try switching it up by serving some pumpkin ice cream with a drizzle of maple syrup.

If you want to keep it traditional, pumpkin pies can be relatively straightforward to make if you opt for pre-made pumpkin pie filling and pie shells but it's even easier to just pick one up at the grocery store along with a can of whip cream.

Have a non-cheesy thankful moment

Over dinner, share what you are thankful for. Practicing gratitude gets your head in the right place to reflect on all the goodness in your life. It's also fun to snap some photos to share with friends and family back home. It might even reverse the FOMO, and have them wish they were celebrating with you and your friends away from home.

Stay in and play some games

After dinner, try busting out a game like Cards Against Humanity, Things in a Box, or Cranium to play right at the dinner table. They're all great crowd pleasers, and the giggles be non-stop while you finish the wine.

Whether you stay late kibitzing or just head home, I never suggest trying to hit the town after a friendsgiving dinner. Trust me, vodka soda and turkey isn't a good combination.

Last minute friendsgiving?

If you're reading this the day before thanksgiving and you decide you're going to put together a last minute friendsgiving, don't worry -- it's totally doable.

All you need is some of the aforementioned Stove Top stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, thickly sliced turkey breast from the deli counter or the freezer aisle, and a bag of frozen green beans. Pop a yam or two in the microwave, scoop out the flesh, and mash it with butter. Bam! Friendsgiving dinner is served. Trust me, it's tasty.

Alternatively, almost every greasy spoon diner offers a turkey dinner option complete with stuffing. Pile into a booth with friends and toast some milkshakes to another year of gratitude. After all, it's the friends part of friendsgiving that matters the most.


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