A New Tradition: Friendsgiving

The holiday season is in full swing and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Last week we gave you some tips on hosting an amazing holiday party, and this week we want to talk about throwing a great Friendsgiving. We spoke with one of our dear friends, Natalie Shippam, who has been hosting a Friendsgiving nearly every year for the past ten years. She is hosting again this year and has graciously agreed to give us a glimpse of what her preparation for the day looks like. Natalie has recently become a mother again for the fifth time, so we’re sure that whether you’re hosting for the first time or just planning on attending, you’ll gain some great insight from someone who knows the ropes of details and party panning.

Preparation for Friends-Giving at the Shippam household usually begins a week or two prior to the day of the event just to make sure that friends can attend and food will be covered. This year, as in years past, Natalie will host Friendsgiving after the Thanksgiving holiday. This helps guest to plan their schedules and, as a bonus, the food is on sale! She is also able to incorporate more of a holiday theme rather than just Thanksgiving at the event.

Food preparations begin the night before the party. As the hosts, the Shippam's always provide the meat and potatoes. Natalie’s husband is in charge of the turkey and begins prepping with his secret spices and recipes early in the evening. The veggies, salads, bread/dinner rolls, desserts and drinks have already been delegated out to the guests. Anyone that was not delegated a certain dish is free to bring any dish they desire to the event. For Natalie, it’s important to have the bases covered and then allow for some fun food surprises. It’s also much easier to ask a few people to bring drinks & desserts so that there’s a variety for the evening.

The morning of the event, Natalie will start work on the potato dishes and begin cleaning the house. Her husband will do some final touches on the turkey and pop it into the oven. For the Shippam Friendsgiving, they like to start meal time between 2 – 3 pm for their sanity and the sanity of their children who are constantly asking when they are going to eat! Decorations for the event are kept simple with a holiday table cloth, some gourds from the garden, and real dishware. Their event often hosts anywhere from twelve to twenty people, plus or minus with the children. The atmosphere is laid back and the meal is held in the backyard, where there’s plenty of room for seating, as well as for the kids to run around.

According to Natalie, her Friendsgiving event will run well into the evening, and this is a known expectation that her guests have. Everyone stays for round two of drinks, desserts, and dinner, as well as games and gathering around the fire pit in the back yard. We recommend that you set a precedent for your guests if you have a time limit on the evening. You don’t want your guests to unknowingly wear out their welcome by drinking too much or staying too late.

Before ending our conversation with Natalie, we asked her if she had any recommendations for our readers. She suggested two things:

  1. Make sure to get a head count on the number of children coming (or let your guests know if this will be an evening without children). Two years ago, they decided to give the kids their own Friendsgiving at the neighbor’s house across the street and hire a baby sitter. This allowed more room for the adults at their house and let the kids have fun with their own kid-friendly food and play at the playground for a little bit.
  2. Incorporate something fun into the night besides food and drink, like a white elephant gift exchange or setting aside time for games or an outdoor tournament.

We’re so appreciative of Natalie sharing her insights with us and giving us a glimpse into her day as a host for Friendsgiving. Be sure to let us know how you celebrate Friendsgiving in the comments below!

weston stecklairComment