With the holidays around the corner and the launch of our Friendsgiving blueprint, we couldn’t be more excited to share with you _THE BEST_ tips on how to throw a Friendsgiving dinner from our friend Alexandra Shytsman, who literally wrote the book on Friendsgiving.

Alexandra Shytsman is a recipe developer, food writer and photographer. She is the founder of The New Baguette, a healthy recipe blog, and author of Friendsgiving (published on September 5, 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers). Her work has been featured on Food52, the New York Daily News, Oprah Magazine, Mind Body Green, and Gothamist.

Alexandra shares:

What I love about Friendsgiving is that it’s an entirely relaxed affair. Unlike Thanksgiving with family, Friendsgiving is not steeped in decades of tradition, which means you can make it into any kind of party you want it to be. And unlike once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, like say, an engagement party, if Friendsgiving goes terribly awry, you get to do it again next year!

Here are some of my favorite tips for hosting a stress-free Friendsgiving.

Choose an Original Menu

Turkey and stuffing? You’ll have plenty of those with your in-laws. For a gathering with friends, you can stray from the classics and serve a more unique spread instead. For instance, in my book, Friendsgiving, I offer Cuban, Italian, and Southern-American menus. Whatever you choose to cook, make sure it goes together – i.e. you wouldn’t want to serve Vietnamese spring rolls alongside Spaghetti Bolognese. (p.s. I always recommend serving four to five dishes for dinner parties.)

Prime Real Estate

I am, of course, referring to your oven space. When selecting a menu, plan for at least two dishes that can be served cold or at room temperature since your stove can only handle so much at once. This also means you won’t need to fuss with keeping these items warm in case dinner gets delayed. And, make sure not all your dishes have to roast in the oven at the same time! If they do, make sure it’s at the same temperature (or that you have two ovens).

My Golden Rule of Silverware (+ Dishware, etc.)

If hosting one to eight guests, use real metal silverware, ceramic dishware, glass stemware, etc. Eight or more? Disposible is fine – just use the recyclable or compostable stuff.

No Dining Table? No Problem!

Set up a buffet on your coffee table or kitchen counter instead. Be sure there are enough surfaces for guests to set their drinks down, though. You can purchase extra side tables at IKEA for around $15.

Au Naturel

Last but not least, the decor! I love to include elements of nature on my Friendsgiving table. Be it bowls of produce – clementines, lemons, pears, or, of course, gourds – and hardy herbs like sage and rosemary tied together with twine, these objects make for a beautifully rustic presentation. Using a dark blue or purple tablecloth or runner will complement those yellows and oranges nicely.

Adapted from Friendsgiving by Alexandra Shytsman (HarperCollins Publishers).  Featured photography by Alexandra Shytsman.

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