‘Tis the season for friends, family, and stretchy pants! Who’s excited?! 🙂
Around this time last year, my girlfriends and I decided to start a relaxed style Cookbook Club. We meet at the beginning of each month and rotate between houses. While the initial intent was to all cook from the same cookbook, we decided that it would be best for our group to cook whatever from our favorite cookbooks. The host cooks the main dish and the rest of the group fills in the gaps. It’s a great excuse to consistently wine and dine with your friends. Highly recommend.
This year we decided to turn November’s club meeting into Friendsgiving, which just so happens to be my turn to host. I’ve hosted plenty of parties, but Friendsgiving?! Now, that’s a lot of pressure. I thought I would share my best tips on how I survived cooking my first ever turkey as well as tips on how to host a killer Friendsgiving that will leave your friends impressed AF.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The easiest way to reduce the stress involved with hosting a killer Friendsgiving is by planning ahead.
The very first thing you should do is start a shared Note or Google Document with your friends. This will help divvy up the work involved and figure out who is bringing what. (Don’t judge our list, haha, we wanted to go all out!)
Create a Timeline
Once you know exactly what you are making, it is imperative that you create a timeline. Creating a timeline for yourself will allow you to make as much as possible in advance, therefore reducing your stress significantly on the day of the party. Below is the timeline I created for myself.
The easiest way to tackle this timeline is by working backwards. How long does your turkey need to thaw, brine, and dry? When do you want to take your turkey out of the oven? How long does it need to rest? How long does something need to chill in the fridge before serving?
Lots to cover here. If you host Friendsgiving in late October or early November, you might have trouble finding fresh whole turkeys. I had to purchase a frozen one. FYI – it takes ETERNITY to thaw.
Allow 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey to thaw!
After 66 hours of thawing, mine was still pretty frozen. I ended up filling my sink with cold water and giving it a cold water bath. Remember to change the water every 30 minutes! After and hour of doing this, I decided to just wet brine my partially frozen turkey – Google said it would be fine. 🙂
Wine & Brine
While researching, I came across this brining kit by Urban Accents. It has insane reviews!! I purchased mine at Whole Foods, but I think Costco & Amazon sell the kit as well.
A few things to note about wet brining a turkey…
- It takes one hour per pound to soak.
- It is recommended that you allow the turkey to dry for about 24 hours after wet brining. (I found this tip on Pinterest, but the kit doesn’t require this.)
Watch the video below to learn how to brine a turkey with the kit I used. Once you are comfortable with the process, grab a glass of wine and start brining!
I recommend you set your table the night before. One less thing to do the day of. Keep your decor simple with just a few pumpkins on the table and some festive plates from Pier1. We have plain white dishes that are perfect to accent with holiday salad plates. It’s a budget friendly way to change things up for special events.
With that said, cloth napkins and name placement cards are other nice touches to make your guests feel special.
Don’t forget about the music! Find a playlist on Spotify in advance. The last thing you want to do is be searching for a good play list as your friends are arriving. I received compliments on this playlist all night long!
If your lights dim, dim them! Light some candles! Light a fire. Make your place as welcoming and cozy as you can. It’s a special night after all.
If you would like the recipes to the dishes I am making, please follow the links below:
- Have a backup plan! Mine was a ham from Honey Baked Ham Co.
- Add a container of turkey broth or stock to your shopping list for gravy. My turkey didn’t produce enough juice for my gravy recipe.
- Assign bartending duty to the first friend that arrives. You will be so busy dealing with the turkey/gravy situation that having a friend help out with something easy is KEY.
- Provide take away bags and containers for leftovers! My friends loved that I had this available for them and they all took food home.
I am confident that if you follow these steps, you will host a killer Friendsgiving that your friends will not forget. Lastly, if you are looking for more Friendsgiving inspiration, follow my Friendsgiving Pinterest board!