Health and Fitness

10 Ideas for Stress-Free Party Hosting

“Let’s do Friendsgiving this year!” is the text we’ve all sent or received at least once. We simultaneously wish our group of friends were classy enough to pull off a big dinner, yet we don’t want to do all the work that comes along with hosting. But here’s a secret: Friendsgiving is only as stressful as you make it—and trust us, we’re not in the habit of making dinner more complicated.

If you follow the commandments we set forth, you’ll make people so jealous on Instagram have a really kick-ass night. Above all else: Make sure you schedule the dinner at least a full week before or after the real Turkey Day; you don’t want to make anyone’s mom angry because they’d rather be at your house.

1. Thou shalt not host the Friendsgiving meal solo.

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal solo is the stuff of nightmares. Both for those of us who think making dinner translates to “pouring milk over cereal,” and for those who know how to chiffonade basil. Cooking a multi-dish meal—especially one that typically includes roasting an enormous bird—is way too much for Friendsgiving (and quite frankly, for regular Thanksgiving as well, but we digress).If you’re the Friendsgiving host this year and are already supplying a venue, your food responsibilities should be minimal. Convince a friend (perhaps that chiffonader) to help you co-host. You can be sure to restock the toilet paper and vacuum the living room, and your pal can take care of the heavyweight food items. Or vice versa.

2. Thou shalt not overthink the appetizers.

Piping-hot artichoke dip spread over homemade pita chips is delicious, yes. But there’s a lot of other food to get to on Friendsgiving. Guys, chips and guac are A-OK. Marinated olives, a hunk of sharp cheddar, and a few packages of crackers are considered above and beyond.

3. Thou shalt not roast a massive turkey.

Unless you want to, of course. Just remember there’s no rule that says a turkey must be present at the Thanksgiving table. And if we had a nickel for every time someone said they’re “not a huge fan of turkey,” we’d be living large. And speaking of nickels, turkeys are pricey AF at this time of year; no one should have to shell out 50 bucks for a bird. Roast a few small chickens—even easier, buy wings, breasts, and thighs, and throw them in the oven.

4. Thou shalt observe the potluck-style meal.

If you and your co-host take care of the turkey or the chicken or the tofurkey, arrange a potluck among the rest of the group to take care of everything else. Whether you send the request through a Facebook message or Excel spreadsheet (there’s always one friend who’ll do this), make sure everyone else cooks at least one full side. Anyone who makes two or more dishes gets to hit the dessert table first. Note: If your side needs to be warmed up, text the host before you arrive to reserve oven or stove space.

5. Thou shalt respect special dieters, but not picky eaters.

Vegans happen. So do the gluten-free and the lactose-intolerant and the pesca-local-poly-tarians who sometimes eat beef when the moon is full. A good host is always respectful of their friends’ dietary restrictions, but should never have to cater to someone who just really hates broccoli. Avoid cross-contamination if you know someone has an allergy or prescriptive diet. But if Joey wants tater tots and Phoebe wants mashed with peas and onions, they’re both bringing their own potatoes.

6. Thou shalt make sitting on the floor seem elegant and bohemian.

We’re not sure about you, but some of our living rooms are roughly the size of a minivan trunk. And even if you have a large space, there never seems to be enough chairs as there are butts. Make it easier on yourself by omitting the need for furniture at all. Spread out the tapestry hanging on your wall on the floor, and add some pillows for good measure. That being said, there may be certain people who’ll feel more comfortable sitting on the couch with a plate in their lap, and to them we say, “You do you!”

7. Thou shalt play good music.

There’s nothing harder on both guests and hosts than a quiet room—a particularly tricky situation if you’ve invited people who don’t know each other well. Tell everyone to share a playlist before the meal and have the music on by the time people show up. Someone is bound to start singing along to a Hamilton rap (again, there’s one in every group) or tell a funny story about what happened at the Kanye show when he played this song. And have you watched Lemonade yet—boom, bearable group mingling.

8. Thou shalt not run out of ice.

Even if you drink warm water with lemon and ~nothing else~, as a host, you should supply ice. Head to the nearest bodega, convenience store, or drugstore and buy two giant bags of ice. Fit as much as you can in a large Tupperware in the freezer and keep the rest in coolers, transferring as needed.

9. Thou shalt use real plates and flatware.

It may seem cheap and easy to just use plastic, but it’s actually super expensive to stock up on things you’ll throw away after dinner. Save your cash and use the real deal. Only own six plates, you say? Head to Target or Bed Bath & Beyond and buy a few sets of simple dishes on sale. You might spend a little more than on the throwaway stuff, but you get to keep those dishes when the meal is finished. Before you start to whine about how you’re going to wash all these plates, see Commandment 10.

10. Thou shalt not clean up alone.

You invited a bunch of people to your home, roasted a turkey (maybe), and now you have to do all the dishes by yourself? We think not. If your friends are good people, they’ll offer to help on their own, but let’s be real, they might not. When planning the potluck, we recommend you reserve at least two friends for a cleanup crew. It’s not the flashiest of tasks, but that moment when everyone leaves is sometimes when the real party starts. Crack open a new bottle of wine, turn up a workout playlist, and get to work.

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