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Six Steps to Hosting a Heart-Warming Friendsgiving

There are a few theories about the origin of Friendsgiving. They involve the iconic '90s TV show "Friends," a flurry of social media mentions in 2007, and a 2011 beverage ad campaign. But regardless of how this festive feast found its way into our contemporary culture, it offers a wonderful way to share the warmth and feel-good gratitude of the season with your closest friends. If it's not possible to be with your family for Thanksgiving — or maybe you just love the holiday so much you'd like to celebrate twice — follow these simple steps for a successful and memorable gathering.

A couple preparing a thanksgiving turkey.

Choose the date

Do you want to celebrate on, before or after Thanksgiving Thursday? There are benefits to all these choices. Doing it early ensures people are available and not suffering holiday burnout, while holding it over the weekend following Thanksgiving lets you prolong your holiday and creatively repurpose leftovers.

Invite your guests

Southern Living recommends you start to invite your friends at least a couple weeks ahead of your date. You can go the traditional route and hand-write your invitations for added charm, or use a fun online RSVP app that lets you track attendance and gauge turnout. Ask guests to alert you to any special dietary restrictions when they RSVP.

Determine the menu

Consensus states the host is responsible for the Friendsgiving turkey, so let Butterball show you how easy it is to roast a whole bird. Delegate the side dishes and desserts to your guests for a bountiful potluck. You can leave it up to chance and ask everyone to bring a personal favorite holiday dish. This adds to the fun and ensures a wide variety of unique choices. Ask your always-early pals to furnish appetizers for snacking while the turkey's finishing. Be sure that guests who observe gluten-free, vegan, kosher or vegetarian diets have plenty to eat.

Decide on serving style

Are you going for a full-on, sit-down meal with fine linens, place cards and Grandma's good china? Do you need guests to bring serving utensils, platters and serving bowls with their contributions? Maybe a casual eat-anywhere buffet makes more sense for your group. Don't be afraid to take the staging, stress and cleanup down a notch by using paper plates and trusty plastic utensils. You're among friends, after all.

Prepare your home

Keep your decorations simple and seasonal. Flowers and candles in warm autumn hues create a relaxed vibe, and a fiery fall wreath on the front door sets a welcoming tone. If it's snowing, keep your driveway shoveled and walkways salted. If you're enjoying an Indian summer, make sure your AC is ready to go.

Run a holiday safety check before guests arrive to confirm that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are operational and filled with fresh batteries. Check that fire extinguishers are in working order and located near the kitchen and fireplace.

Make a special space for the children

Lastly, don't forget about your friends' children, unless it's an adults-only gathering. A good idea might be to hire a babysitter to help supervise or at a minimum make sure to have a table set up with some child-friendly activities.

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