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Everything You Need For a Perfect Friendsgiving

An outdoor tablesetting. The long rectangular table has a white linen tablecloth, with orange and cream flower arrangements, long tapered honey coloured candles and grey dining plates on top. In the background are stone archways and blurred foliage.

Design: Laurie Arons | Photography: Jose Villa

Coming to the end of November means one thing… holiday parties! While everyone’s gearing up for Christmas, I love the humble Thanksgiving holiday, or, it’s alternative, Friendsgiving. While you might not feel like celebrating at the moment, Friendsgiving could be just what you need to get your joy back in time for Christmas. Read on for my top tips on how to host the perfect 2020 Friendsgiving - whether in person, or remote.

What Is Friendsgiving?

A woman in a white shirt works on a table setting. The rectangular table has a grey tablecloth, black and white dinner plates with mustard coloured napkins on top, gold cutlery, a printed item to the left of each place, and yellow and white flowers arrangements.

Image Source | Hilde

Let’s face it - Thanksgiving didn’t really make it to Australia. While I miss the holiday season back in the US, I was so glad I found an alternative here - Friendsgiving! Friendsgiving is an alternative (or addition) to Thanksgiving, typically celebrated at the end of November. If you’re having a traditional Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving can be an informal version amongst friends the weekend before or after your traditional event. But if you’ve never had a traditional Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving can take its place - the perfect Aussie holiday mashup!

A dessert rests on a black dining plate. It resembles a round cake with dripping chocolate and caramel down the sides. Toffee apples rest on top.

Image Source | Half Baked Harvest

Traditionally Thanksgiving is about taking a moment to be grateful for the good things in life, and reflecting on the past year. It really is all about gratitude - the gift-giving and consumerism side of things is saved for Christmas (or the Black Friday Sales after Thanksgiving ;)), and the focus here is on food, loved ones, and being thankful. After all that 2020 has thrown at us, taking a moment to be thankful for the good things sounds like a great idea to me. For Aussies, Friendsgiving is just that, and for our American friends, we know you love a good holiday - so why not incorporate two?

How To Get Started

An outdoor table setting. There is native Australian flora on the table atop a white tablecloth. There are natural beeswax candles and black dinging plates with gold cutlery

Image Source | Krista Collard Interiors

For some people, Friendsgiving could be the perfect opportunity to get together with your friends before doing Christmas with the fam. For others, a virtual Friendsgiving may be in order - and there’s no reason it can’t be just as fun! Remember the goal here is to be thankful - no moping about lockdowns allowed! Instead pick a time for all invited to jump on to Zoom and share some time together. You can still enjoy decorating and eating good food, and go around the call to say what you’re thankful for. Even if COVID’s got you down, this is the perfect excuse to be joyful, even if just for one night.

Friendsgiving Decor

An outdoor tablescape. The table is rectangular and made of dark wood with matching bench seats. White fluffy rugs rest in the bench seats. The table has a long green foliage runner, with candles and white table settings. The ground is stone pavers with an ourdoor fireplace behind the table, set with red bricks. Dark green trees are in the background with fairylights strung between them

Image Source | Andee Layne

Ok, let’s face it - I’m a holiday decor junkie! Decorating for the holidays is such a magical time, and I love that your Friendsgiving theme can be whatever you choose. For those able to celebrate in person, you can’t go past a good tablescape. Extravagantly decorated dining tables seem to be reserved for weddings in Australia, but there’s no reason you can’t get a little fancy with the Friendsgiving decor. Pick a colour scheme, light some candles and have fun setting up an elegant tablescape. For those in Australia, an outdoor venue is the perfect choice with these hot summer nights - and just think how pretty fairy lights and candles will look in the garden!

An overhead photo of a place setting at a table. The table is light wood. There is a natural fibred round placemat with a cream dining plate on top. A blush coloured napkin rests across the plate in a haphazard manner with gold cutlery on top. There are three blush coloured glasses with gold rims behind the setting.

Design: Mille Papillons | Photography: Lara Onac

If you’re hosting a virtual Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, there’s definitely still options to decorate. Encourage each of your guests to sit at their dining table and include some decorations. It doesn’t have to be difficult - a few candles to set the mood, the fancy cutlery that comes out on special occasions, or even some flowers from the garden could be all you need to help the online event feel a little special. If you really want to encourage decorating, you could decide on a mutual theme for all guests to use, or have a competition to vote on the best decor. Remember that it’s about having fun, so make sure it’s something enjoyable rather than being a hassle.

The Friendsgiving Meal

A photo of a study. Large timber bookshelves line the left wall, filled with books. The right wall is painted white and has assorted framed prints hanging on it in different sizes. A white fluffy rug sits in the middle of the space with a timber and plaid fabric eames chair and ottoman sitting on top. A silver tall standing lamp is on the left of the chair.

Image Source | Spoon Fork Bacon

Time for the best part… food! If there’s one thing I miss about fall in the US, it’s the sweets that come with it. Yes, I know pumpkin spice lattes are ‘basic’ but that doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious! I love the sweetly-spiced desserts that come with Thanksgiving, from pumpkin pie to pecan pie - I’ll have a slice of both! If you’re unused to these treats in Australia, I definitely recommend giving them a try. You can find some great recipes online for traditional Thanksgiving desserts, or hit up Costco for a store-bought version (they’re still good, but homemade is pretty yummy!).

A slice of pie on a white dinner plate. It has a chocolate filling with a caramel glaze dripping down the sides

Image Source | Taste and Tell

If you’re doing a virtual Friendsgiving, have a think about how you’ll organise the meal - will you all get a turkey and a pie to eat at the same time? Will each household have their own meal, followed by on-screen drinks and Thanksgiving traditions? However you decide to do it, don’t skimp on the meal just because the number of people in your house may be small. You can still enjoy all the delicious foods that come with a traditional Thanksgiving - just with less cooking!

Friendsgiving really is a fun holiday, and one I think we all need at the moment. Will you be celebrating this year? Let me know your plans below!

A millennial woman, residential interior designer based on the Lower North Shore of Sydney, Australia. She is wearing a white and grey tweed blazer with a white cami, jeans and black framed glasses. Her hair is dark blonde and she is smiling with her legs crossed and her arm rested on a marble and walnut side table surrounded by native Australian flowers and plants. A watercolour abstract painting in a matted and brass frame hangs on the wall behind her as do charcoal drapes.

Krista Collard Interiors is a full service design-build firm focusing on creating timeless spaces that honour sustainability and functionality across the Greater Sydney area.

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