The holidays are in full swing, and with a multitude of excuses to celebrate the family-filled season, I’ve lately coveted a “Friendsgiving” approach for neighbors and friends, both new and old. Last week, our friends gathered to officially kick off November before the frenzy of gatherings ensue. An approachable and ever-so-elegant party put our group in a relaxed and thankful frame of mind.
If this sounds like just the thing you desire at this time of year, here are some suggestions to help you create a beautiful and meaningful event for those near and dear.
A rustic autumn afternoon at the farm set the stage for a gorgeous, all-natural display of friendship and fixings. The 4 p.m. start time allowed for wine and wandering on the grounds prior to sunset. A dusk backdrop beautified our rich conversations and family-style courses.
Rather than relying solely on the hostess for a Friendsgiving spread, a potluck approach allowed each guest to bring his or her best seasonal specialty. Whether it’s a new spin on stuffing, a seasonal salad with pumpkin seeds and pomegranates, or a serendipitous sweet potato side, challenge your guests to bring their best. To push the creative boundaries, make it a friendly competition — invite guests to anonymously vote for their favorite bites throughout the evening, and award a “best dish” prize to the winning guest after dessert.
A raw-wood picnic table was the perfect tabletop for this modern dinner party look. Natural linen placemats and napkins warmed up the space, while crisp white plates complemented glamorous gold flatware.
To fancy each place setting, nestle a homemade cornbread muffin (or mini loaf) in a natural linen napkin with sprigs of fresh herbs. (I alternated sage, rosemary and thyme.) The sweet, holiday-appropriate snack can kick off your dinner or supplement the spread.
A long wooden tray of succulents and white pumpkins lined the center of the picnic table. We opted to tuck in a border of magnolia leaves from the nearby tree. Garden pots of wild greenery, including cacti and thistle and millet, anchored each end of the table.
Mini wood trivets were transformed into place cards and also allowed us to create prompts for reflection. To make them, take a gold or copper paint pen, and write each guest’s name on one side and a “thankful for … ” prompt on the other. Allow each friend to share a phrase during the supper.
EVEN S’MORE THANKFUL
Though pie is a holiday staple, our party took advantage of the outdoor scenery, and we built a fire pit for Friendsgiving-style s’mores. Oversized marshmallows and gourmet dark chocolate made their typical and appreciated appearance. Surprise additions of a pumpkin butter spread and gingersnap substituted for graham crackers elevated fall’s coveted flavors of pumpkin and spice.
Cheers to friendships foraged and relationships nourished. Enjoy the season with those you hold dear!
Special thanks to Micki Martin for today’s beautiful photography. See more of her work at mickimartin.com.
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