I love the concept of Friendsgiving and plan to continue this special tradition – the giving to both our friends AND our added component of giving to our community at the same time makes this a perfect post to share again with our November M Challenge Focus on Giving. I hope you all are inspired – it really is a wonderful time!
This post is sponsored by Walmart AND ALL PROCEEDS WERE DONATED.
I feel like such a lucky mom to have so many incredible women in my life. Most of these friendships started when I was a new mom still trying to figure out the ropes of motherhood. Now my kids are growing up, but I need them as much as I did in the early days. Unfortunately, our schedules have all become so crazy that it becomes nearly impossible to get our group together anymore. I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see them all before the holidays took over and we all began to hibernate for the Indiana winter. I invited them to my home for my first annual Friendsgiving feast to share in a meal together before the holidays and I couldn’t wait to share about it with you.
Let me disclose by saying that I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible and, if you are considering hosting a feast of your own, I would advise you do the same. I wanted to do it on budget, make it as effortless as possible, and I wanted the cooking to be easy too.
Here is how I executed the world’s easiest Friendsgiving Feast and helped give to our community in the process.
Create a Facebook Event (And Get Positive Responses)
Like I said, my friends are crazy busy and getting our group together is nearly impossible. Instead of setting up an event and shooting blindly in the dark for a date or receiving a million responses and being responsible for sorting people/dates, I utilize Doodle to schedule get togethers. Simply plug in the dates and times that will work for you and send out the link to the scheduling tool for each person to vote for the days that work best for them. Once you receive the responses you can set the date for the one that received the most positive response.
Once you have the date, it couldn’t be easier to invite your friends especially since everyone (at least in my group) is on Facebook. I just put up an event and asked that everyone respond there. It was easy to create, to monitor, and gave me an accurate headcount for making food purchases. Make sure that you set the privacy to, “Invite Only” for viewing otherwise everyone who is a friend can see a response (and might not be included- ouch!) I admit, the only time I wish I had a bigger house is when I host events like this. Believe me, Invite Only for viewers is the way to go.
You Supply the Turkey, They Supply the Fixins’
Last year I hosted my family for Thanksgiving all while photographing each and every dish for the site. This year I wanted to take an easier approach so I offered to supply the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but requested that each person bring their own dish and a bottle of wine to share. To make sure all the categories were filled, I utilized Jooners to create a sign-up sheet for dishes. Be sure to specify what you need under the, “Needed,” box. That is where I asked for side dishes, desserts, bread, and appetizers. This will help you have a well-rounded feast and since everyone can fill in the dish they are bringing, it helps cut down on anyone bringing the same dish.
Not only did I do store-bought stuffing and gravy, I purchased turkey breasts (here is my favorite method of preparation) instead of dealing with the bones and carving. It killed me a little bit to do this when I know I could do so much more, but this also helped me to truly enjoy the evening with my friends and allowed me to not worry about laboring over dishes and missing out on all the fun together. Not to mention the cost factor that I saved on by having everyone help me with dishes and drinks.
Of course, there is always our make-ahead feast that gets you out of the kitchen that day altogether! Here are my make-ahead mashed potatoes, make-ahead fresh green bean casserole, make-ahead gravy, make-ahead stuffing, make-ahead cranberry sauce, make-ahead appetizers, make-ahead rolls, make-ahead pie crust, and even some great make-ahead ways to dress up a store-bought pie… just to name a few!
Invest in Smart Party Supplies That You Use Over & Over Again
Over the years we have hosted so many gatherings that I have accumulated an arsenal of tools so that I can pull a get together at a moment’s notice. I honestly didn’t buy a thing other than disposable cups for our get together, but that is because I have invested over the years and I try to create handmade items that can double as centerpieces if I don’t have time to run out and purchase fresh flowers.
The things that I have used the most over the years:
Centerfold Table- I bought this three years ago and I use it at least three times a year. It has a handle on it and folds down the center making it easy to pack up and take it if you need to and also making it easy to store when you don’t. I purchased this tablecloth (you can see it here in a game day party I did awhile back) because it was stain-resistant. To save on time ironing, I just wash it and then spread it on the table the night before since it is so lightweight and dries quickly without even going through the dryer. It helps cut down on wasting time ironing and is wrinkle-free in the morning.
Elegant Plastic Dishes- Elegance and plastic might not seem like they go together, but plastic dishes have come a long way. I hosted a shed-warming party (totally a thing!) this summer and since we had so many guests coming, I decided to buy twenty of these dishes. If you go to Walmart, you can purchase the plates individually, which is exactly what I did. Unfortunately (but then fortunately), they didn’t have enough in a single style so I ended up getting three different styles which adds a bit of fun to the dinner table. I love that these are lightweight and can be reused over and over again.
Bar Cart- This summer I transformed a tool cart into a bar cart and it is truly one of my favorite entertaining tools. Since we live in a small home (which we are very committed to) we don’t have a lot of counters or surfaces to use for putting out drinks and food. My bar cart resides in my shed, but I wheel it in when I am entertaining and it offers a fun place to tuck bottles of wine and glasses.
Inexpensive Silverware- I actually hit our local restaurant supply store for inexpensive silverware that reminds me of some of my favorite diners. There is never a shortage of forks, spoons, or knives at our home.
Decor That Can Be Used Over & Over Again- I love to craft and in the back of my mind, I am always thinking how I can weave these items into our seasonal decorating especially when it comes to the holidays. For our Friendsgiving feast my Knitted Leaf Centerpiece was perfect for my table (and is on display year-round in my craft room). This winter the table will be adorned with these Yarn Pom Pom Trees that I made. Think of creating something that you can get out every year and that can save you money when entertaining.
REALLY Make it a FriendsGIVING
I have some truly generous friends so I called upon them to assist me with giving back to our community. First, I asked each of them to take a moment to clear out their pantries so that we could make a donation to my church’s food pantry. Right before the holidays is a great time to clear some space and make room for all of those items you will need to tackle your holiday baking and dishes.
The shelter that I have helped in the past where we achieved our MomAdvice Big Give, the Elkhart Faith Mission, is a charity that I love to support. Longtime readers may recall the MomAdvice Big Give we executed with them. Here is a little throwback footage for you.
It costs a mere $.1.79 to give a Thanksgiving meal to one person at the shelter. I left an envelope out and asked if anyone felt like giving that they could donate as little as two bucks to give someone something to look forward to for the holidays.
Consider making a true FriendsGIVING experience and find a scraps of life way to give back or gather together to make care packages for the homeless.
Each year I like to dedicate one post from Walmart to those in need and today’s post is for the families heading to Faith Mission that need a holiday dinner to look forward to.
I understand that sponsored posts aren’t always the favorite posts here, but the proceeds from this post today and the donations I collected fed 187 PEOPLE a Thanksgiving meal and many of our posts this year gave a community of people clean water this year. How cool is that? Please support our sponsors because they do help many- perhaps, more than you realize!
I hope my Friendsgiving inspires you to give back to your community and to throw a get together with your own amazing friends!
Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving? Any tips or tricks you would like to share!