5 TIPS FOR THE BEST FRIENDSGIVING

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I love Thanksgiving.  I think it is my favorite holiday.  I love that it centers around family and friends, gathered together to celebrate what we are Thankful for.  I also love that it doesn't focus around gifts, events, and other things that tend to create chaos in the holiday season.  Don't get me wrong, I love tradition and the bustle of the holidays, but there is something sweet about Thanksgiving being solely about the food and time we share together (well, and football :)

We started having a Friendsgiving about 13 years ago.  Due to the military schedule my husband was on, traveling 18 hours home just did not make sense.  We found we were not the only people that were stranded on Thanksgiving.  Thus, our Thanksgiving became one of the Thanksgiving Misfits so we liked to call it!  People who did not go home to visit family.

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Over time, it has grown to include some family members that do travel to join us for Thanksgiving, and it includes anyone we know that might not have a place to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It has been one of our most enjoyable traditions.  This year, we will celebrate our 14th Friendsgiving and we have learned some great tips for success.  Allow me to share:

1.  Cook several, smaller turkeys

I like to cook several, smaller turkeys so they don't dry out.  When you are feeding a crowd, you tend to think bigger is better, but the smaller turkeys keep more moisture in because they have more bone to meat ratio...yum! It also allows you to carve them more easily and plate them in several areas for easy access. 

2. Farm out the drinks

Several of our guests do travel to join us and they'd like to bring something, but cannot cook it on the road.  Having those guests bring drinks is a wonderful way for them to help, without having to mess with cooking.

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3. Don't Farm out the basics

I consider the basics of the meal Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Gravy, and Pumpkin Pie (you might add to this list but these are the staples).  I learned the hard way that you risk a lot when you tell someone else to bring one of these items.  They MIGHT change their mind and not show up with one of the staples of the meal, throwing you into a panic.  When this happened to me, I vowed never again to "farm out a staple" dish. I now respond - "bring anything you'd love to have or are good at making".  If you have more of the basics, it's a win!

4. Appetizers are key (but keep them simple)

Thanksgiving dinner is hard to time, especially with guests rotating in.  We make a lot of easy appetizers (think dips, cheese, crackers, fruit, muffins, bars, etc) for snaking throughout the day so the meal can be made without "hangry" people in the kitchen!

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5.  Accept help and be Thankful for it

People want to help.  They see you as a host and feel that they want to be helpful to you.  Allow this and go beyond that, be thankful for it.  Sometimes I get bogged down in just trying to "get it done", which does somewhat miss the point of it all.  When I step back and allow the help to happen, I find I enjoy the time so much more. 

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
— William Arthur Ward

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether it be with friends or family.  It is my favorite holiday and I am thankful for the chance to share it with you.

Do you have tips for a successful Friendsgiving?

- Casey