Thankfully we had an enthusiastic group of about 20 friends who were ready to dig into delicious food and sip on some festive drinks with us this weekend!
I admittedly love everything about hosting Friendsgiving – from the party prep, to the cooking and recipe selection – it’s all so fun to put together and I had a great time cooking up a storm on Saturday afternoon before our guests arrived a little after 4 p.m.
We had plenty of drinks for everyone, including an assortment of beer (no Natty Light beer roulette this time), sparkling holiday sangria and mulled wine. I am such a sucker for mulled wine (I first fell in love with it during our SantaCon adventures in NYC) and the mulled wine was definitely the drink of choice during this year’s Friendsgiving party. I’ve been making Ina Garten’s recipe for a few years now but added a splash of maple syrup instead of honey this year and LOVED it. Also, to simplify things, rather than prep the mulled wine on the stovetop, I added everything to the crockpot on low about three hours before the party began. It’s amazing and the best mulled wine recipe I’ve found to date!
Most of our friends brought an appetizer, dessert or side dish to share and we had more than enough food for everyone.
I left out place cards and pens so everyone could write down the name of the dish they prepared to avoid any confusion. I made some of our favorite dishes to share, including my mom’s stuffing, sweet potato casserole, my mother-in-law’s amazing pineapple soufflé and cranberry sauce.
As usual, Ryan was in charge of the turkey and the turkey situation ended up being a little comical this year. Early last week, I received an email from Diestel offering to send us a Non-GMO USDA Certified Organic turkey. The turkey seemed wonderful (no artificial ingredients or preservatives, growth stimulants or hormones) and since we had yet to purchase a turkey, I quickly replied to say, “Yes, please! Thank you!”
Well, somehow I overlooked the fact that the turkey was actually already a fully-cooked, oven-roasted turkey. After we thawed it out, Ryan opened up the turkey, ready to doctor it up and do this thing only to realize it was already basically done for him… and done very well! All we had to do was put the turkey in the oven for just over an hour (we still rubbed the outside with olive oil, rosemary, garlic salt and pepper) and we had the most amazing turkey ready to serve to everyone without much effort at all.
In my opinion, the turkey is probably the thing I’m least excited about over Thanksgiving (I’m usually all about the sides), but everyone raved about the turkey this year. It was so, so good! (And the leftovers were just as tasty the next day.)
Aside from the delicious food, one of the highlights from Friendsgiving this year was all of the children in attendance… And the fact that we had two babysitters on hand! My mother-in-law actually gave me the idea to reach out to two babysitters to see if they would be interested in watching all of the kiddos in our upstairs bonus room so the parents could enjoy some adult conversation and eat uninterrupted. When I shared this idea with my girlfriends, everyone jumped at the suggestion! We outfitted the room with plenty of books and toys and paid two babysitters to watch the kids for a few hours. It was so great to be able to have conversations that weren’t choppy with our friends knowing our little ones were having fun together upstairs.
We still brought the kids down to eat and say hi, but it was nice to be able to relax a little bit more than usual with some of our favorite people!
And for the long-time PBF readers, you might recognize our Florida friend, Ben! He drove in town on Friday and spent the weekend with us. He’s been a Friendsgiving regular since the early years and it was so great to have him in town for our first North Carolina Friendsgiving, too!
(FYI, the sparkly star cupcake toppers and the Pehr table runner were from November’s PopSugar Must Have Box. The box arrived two days before our party and we loved the addition to our Friendsgiving spread! Thanks, PopSugar!)
Friendsgiving 2016 was so much fun and even though I probably took a record low number of photos and didn’t manage to capture a lot of the fun (or a single family photo!), we loved celebrating with friends we are so grateful to have in our lives!
And now I’m more than ready to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday with my family! Hooray for the holidays!