The idea of my group of close friends having a Thanksgiving dinner started with a gchat from Peyton. It is such a sweet idea, and I was so happy we were able to do it!
Below are some of my ideas for throwing a great Friendsgiving. :)
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we opted for a potluck. I find it's easier for a potluck host to assign dishes- this way you don't end up with four pies (which on second thought, wouldn't be the worse thing) and it takes out the stressful guess work for attendees. Also, you get to play to the strengths of each. For example: I know Michele makes an amazing squash souffle, Betsy has a secret mashed potato recipe from her grandma, Peyton makes the best salads ever (like even when I add the same things it doesn't taste as good?) and Anna has a knack for picking the best cheeses from the packaging alone.
I also try to write out a to do list for the party and a correlating schedule. This way I have a good sense of what I need to get done pre-fete (including clean, cook, decorate, and run errands). As a rule of thumb, I try to get half of the prep work done the day before so I'm not zipping around like a stressed out Betty Crocker the afternoon of and can enjoy all the fun parts of hosting.
Candles are probably the single most easy way to add sophistication to any room or setting. The space instantly feels more intimate, everyone looks better in dimmed lighting (seriously :)), and tea lights cost about 20 cents a piece.
For this party, I wanted a cozy, festive feel, and thought the combination of burlap and metallics would be perfect. I picked up the owl at the flea market on 79th St, bought the burlap covered candle holders for $2 a piece as well as the three large glitter candles at Michael's, and took out my trusty Dollar Store candle sticks (!) paired with William-Sonoma candles (which I swear have burned for at least 70 hours).
The big metal candles lit the food table, the owl perched on the bar cart, the burlap tea lights lined my window into the kitchen, and the tall candles added some height to my mantel.
I love place cards. In fact, I collect them. I think they are such a sweet, personal touch to table settings. I was so excited to find these little letterpress notes at Papersource. And at the end of the dinner, we all turned them over and picked randomly to take someone else's home. They will live on our fridges and serve as little reminders of how lucky we are to have good friends in our lives. :)
I fall in love with these berry branches every day I walk by my corner bodega's flower shop. Although inexpensive, I think they are so handsome in their simplicity. I arranged them in the massive mason jar I impulsively bought last year because I was so impressed with its size. This is the only time I've ever used it, but I don't think I could have found a better vase. The pussy willow stems have been sitting on my mantle since last holiday season, and although there were many a July day that I thought I should just throw them out, I am so happy I didn't. And, of course, a little touch of hydrangeas because they are my favorite.
We ate A LOT.