By: Terry Kaye
Catering: A La Carte Catering
Florals: Sarena Floral Design
Planning & Design: Terry Kaye Events
Photographer: Candice Adelle Photography
Rentals: Detailed Memories
Venue: The Retreat at Eastwood
Vintage Rentals: Bella Villa Vintage Rentals
Printing & Design: Amy Boyle
Farm Table Rentals: Local Wood
Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season and, for many, that means travel, stress and perhaps even loneliness. Nowadays, families tend to be more spread out making it more difficult to get everybody together for holiday celebrations and I, for one, have spent countless holidays jumping on planes, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and sometimes even alone. But if you are like me and live far away from your family, you don’t have to miss out on sharing that Thanksgiving experience. Start a new tradition and host a “Friendsgiving”.
Thanksgiving, as its name indicates, is all about being thankful and one thing I am always thankful for is my friendships. As a transplant to Virginia without any family close by, I have found that I rely on my friends to fill that family void and provide me with support when I need it; luckily for me my friends have taken on that role with gusto! What better holiday to celebrate with friends than the one that focuses on gratitude – I am so very thankful for my crew.
Traditional vs. Non-traditional
I personally love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I enjoy creating the menu, setting the table, adding menus and place cards, and accenting it all with flowers and any other beautiful décor I can find. While the planning and design is fun for me, some of you may view it as just more items to add to your already overflowing to-do list. Remember, Friendsgiving is about friendship, regardless of whether you set a formal table or choose to create a casual cocktail party instead. Be present and enjoy your time with the people you have chosen to celebrate the holiday with.
Change it up
Avoid toiling for hours in the kitchen by changing up your traditional Thanksgiving meal into something a bit more casual. There are many creative solutions that will enable you to enjoy your traditional recipes but in untraditional and exciting ways. For example, rather than your traditional stuffing recipe, try making cocktail-sized stuffing balls with cranberry compote dipping sauce. Of course, if you simply don’t want the pressure of cooking at all (and subsequently cleaning all those pots and pans!) you can always reach out to a local caterer, many of whom offer traditional Thanksgiving menus to go. Whether your menu is traditional, cocktail style, homemade or provided by caterers, simply have fun and be creative.
Make is stress-free and comfy
Friendsgiving is all about creating a stress-free environment for you and the people you have chosen to be your Friendsgiving family. It should be filled with great food, lots of laughter, a signature cocktail (or two) and an inviting space. I always try to host events outside, especially during the fall. One way to make the outside area feel more cozy is to bring the inside furniture outdoors. A comfy sofa or two will be welcome after your guests fill up on turkey and are longing for a comfortable space to kick back and relax. If you are looking to create a formal table setting but you don’t have the indoor space, move the party to an unexpected location like a barn. If you don’t have a long enough table, rent a long farm table. Use what you have, rent what you need and mix it up. It doesn’t have to look perfect to be the perfect party.
Just because we are calling it a Friendsgiving, doesn’t mean you should lose sight of what you are celebrating. A great way to show thanks is by adding personalized touches to your event. Showcase some old photos of you and your friends together, add personalized place cards for each guest and write down why you are grateful to have them in your life. Lastly, always send your guests home with a memento from the day. It doesn’t have to be expensive; simply think of something tangible that represents your time together. Some of my favorite ideas are a group photo from the day, a floral centerpiece or even some leftover food. When packaged like this, who wouldn’t be grateful for leftovers!?