How to Host Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving Potlucks

Thanksgiving table set with chargers, dinner plates and pumpkins
It’s the details that matter the most when hosting a Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving dinner. (DepositPhotos)

Many people like to celebrate Thanksgiving in addition to Friendsgiving (a lesser-known observance where you share a meal with friends a week before Thanksgiving), and make it special and memorable for guests.

If you’re hosting a party but need help with the details, here are some tips to inspire you!


Thanksgiving place setting with charger plates, candles, silverware and pumpkins
Who wouldn’t feel special with this as their place setting? (DepositPhotos)

1. Set the Table

A well-ordered table set with plates, silverware, candles and some personal touches such as name cards (or “Happy Thanksgiving” cards) shows you put great care and preparation into the meal’s presentation.

Now’s a great time to break out the charger plates! These are plates that you place underneath soup, salad and dinner plates to catch bits of food and spills that would otherwise stain the tablecloth. Just make sure you replace the chargers with clean ones between each course.

An autumn-themed tablecloth gives guests a nice, festive place where they can sit and enjoy a home-cooked meal with their loved ones.

And don’t forget the buffet line! You can dress up a plain, ugly plastic folding table with a wooden table topper.

Remember: It’s the details that matter the most when hosting a dinner, so whatever you do, just make sure the dining room looks and feels special.

Watch and Learn: How to Transform Your Plain Folding Table to Rustic Chic


Woman holding pumpkin in her hand
Share what you’re thankful for and pass the pumpkin to your guests! (DepositPhotos)

2. Pass the Pumpkin

At the heart of Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving is gratitude, and you can encourage guests to share what they’re grateful for with a simple pumpkin.

Purchase a pumpkin that’s small enough to fit in your hands; you can paint “Give Thanks” on it or leave as is. Then, before the meal begins, show it to your guests and ask everyone to take turns passing the pumpkin around and sharing what they’re thankful for.

This shared experience could easily become an annual tradition!


Sunflowers beside a Thanksgiving table
No vase? No problem! Spread sunflowers on the serving or dinner table for an autumn-themed display. (DepositPhotos)

3. Arrange Some Flowers

Floral arrangements enhance your Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving celebration because they’re not just nice to look at; they’re living décor that requires care and nurturing.

But for fall-themed celebrations, not just any flower will do. It’s important to match the flower with the season.

An ideal autumn arrangement includes chrysanthemums, Peruvian lilies, orange roses and sunflowers. Variety is the spice of life, so mix and match these flowers in vases, baskets or even hollowed-and-preserved pumpkins!

You can go the DIY route or order a formal flower arrangement that you and your guests will enjoy.


Happy Turkey Day sign nestled among pumpkins
Greet guests with a “Happy Thanksgiving” sign or banner. (DepositPhotos)

4. Make a Banner or Sign

If you want to make a bold statement, it doesn’t get much bolder than a banner. This idea works for Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, or any special occasion such as Christmas, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries — and really tells guests how much you care.

Since the banner really does say it all, it makes for a great backdrop when it’s photo time. Have your friends and family gather before or after the meal to take a picture together and capture the moment.

You can purchase seasonal banners at your local sign or party store, or make your own with materials from craft stores.

Alternatively, nestle a chalkboard among a bunch of pumpkins and write “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Happy Turkey Day” on it.


Wooden turkey made from pallet boards, as seen in a residential front yard
Feeling crafty? Make a turkey from old pallet boards!

5. Get Crafty

The holidays are a great time for do-it-yourselfers who need a project to tackle! And you don’t need to go out and buy anything to do it.

So many shipments arrive at our doorsteps on pallets, and that’s valuable, “free” wood for a project like this turkey that you can make from pallet boards. You just need to break out the circular saw, a hammer and nails and some wood glue. Then stain it to make it really stand out!

Want to add more Thanksgiving curb appeal? Make a metal door wreath to hang on your front door!

Paper lanterns are a popular lighting choice, particularly in minimalist and modern homes. You can adopt this trend with a Thanksgiving twist by creating paper lantern turkeys. You just need some felt sheets, mini paper lanterns, scissors and a hot glue gun. Place them wherever you wish!

Further Reading: How to Make a Wood Pallet Turkey

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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