Thanksgiving can be a stressful and chaotic time between frenzied traveling, cooking, cleaning and avoiding political discussions with Uncle Bob.
Opting to sidestep the stress, more and more millennials are actually avoiding the whole scene, and hosting dinners with friends instead. In fact, a recent survey by Dunnhamby shows that 42% of 25- to 34-year-olds are generally spending the holiday with friends instead of family.
If you’re joining the trend and trying to have a more relaxed dinner this year, here are five tips for hosting a fun “Friendsgiving.”
Split the work
One of the best things about inviting friends over instead of family is that you don’t have to be shy at all about asking for help. It’s not fun to face a harried host on Thanksgiving, so divide and conquer ahead of time. While you may want to tackle the basics: Turkey, stuffing and potatoes; let everyone else chip in with the rest. Potluck style Thanksgivings are definitely in style, and I like sending out a sign-up sheet using Google Docs. If your friends are cooking-challenged, you can even include recipes from your favorite cooking blogs. (Like this one for mashed parsnips! Or this one for cranberries).
Another tip: Don’t get stuck with the booze bill. Ask everyone to bring wine or drink of choice, since alcohol is where costs really start to add up.
Using technology can save you tons of time when it comes to shopping for the big day. Whether you prefer Amazon Fresh or Instacart, it’s much more relaxing to sip a glass of wine and shop online than to battle the crowds at grocery stores. I also find I spend less money this way because I’m not tempted by the endless "extras" offered at the end of aisles.
If you want to go a step further, you can even order pre-cooked food and avoid the mess altogether! Places like Whole Foods will cook your turkey for you, and Metropolitan Market will cook you the whole meal!
Another great thing about having friends over is they’re much less likely to care about everything being overly traditional. Lock away the china and fancy silverware and opt for paper plates and sporks to make cleanup easy. I also like using boxed wine to avoid a bunch of empty bottles lying around the house.
Prep ahead of time
Sure, the turkey likely needs to hit the oven the day of the dinner, but lots of other dishes can be made in advance. Try baking desserts, rolls and casserole dishes in the days prior to the meal for the easiest day-of experience. If they need to be re-heated, they can take a few minutes in the oven or microwave instead of taking up valuable real estate for the stars of the show: the bird and stuffing.
Get out the games!
While your Thanksgiving dinner might usually end with tons of dishes and football, try knocking the paper plates into the compost bin and playing games instead! You can go traditional with Trivial Pursuit, hilarious with Cards Against Humanity (which has holiday expansion packs), nostalgic with 90’s kid’s games like Mall Madness, or sentimental by taking turns talking about what you’re thankful for.