It’s that time of the year! My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, but Friendsgiving is a close second. I love having my friends in our home, catching up and spending time together before the craziness of the holidays. But in reality, our home isn’t huge, specifically the kitchen.
After years of hosting this annual tradition, Manny and I have somewhat gotten this hosting thing kind of figured out. I wanted to share some easy recipes and tips we have learned along the way. There are so many turkey specials now, I would research a few options before purchasing one.
So here are 10 tips to make the hosting a little easier!
Schedule it- To start off, you need a date and time! To help us choose, we use Doodle. The host picks 2 dates and times and everyone chooses their preference.
Menu- When planning the menu, think about if you want a brunch or a more traditional dinner? Is it sit down or buffet style? Plan your menu around this.
Plan Ahead- Ask your guests if they will need an oven to help you plan your cooking time. I would advise having the turkey almost done before everyone arrives and let it sit. That way, the oven is open for your guests to heat up their dishes.
Turkey time- The easiest way is for the host to make the turkey. But one thing we have learned along the way is it doesn’t HAVE to be a turkey. There are other options like a turkey breast or cornish hen. Just as good, but a little more manageable at times. You could even find these already seasoned. If you want them unseasoned, just make sure you adjust the brine or dry rub recipe according to the size of turkey you get. If we aren’t making the rub, my favorite is Urban Accents!
Don’t overcook- The host can make the turkey, 1-2 appetizers or sides, but have everyone sign up for a dish along with a paired bottle of wine or beverage. This can easily be done in shared an excel spreadsheet with all the guests.
Decorations– Using candy corn or dried cranberries as a base in candle holders is festive, but easy. Or add fake pumpkins into vases, easy!
Make a punch!- I always recommend making a punch because it serves several people, cost effective, it can be non-alcoholic and the punch bowl makes a pretty centerpiece on your table. See the recipe below.
Playlist– Assign a friend to a make a playlist or create one together on Spotify.
Beverages– If you have a small kitchen like us, keep all beer and soda outside (if that’s an option). It keeps people out of the kitchen, which is always bustling during this time.
Good Cause- Lastly, every year we try to choose a nonprofit to donate. Whether it’s the Red Cross, Chicago Food Depository or another nonprofit, it’s a great way to give back at the start of the holiday season.
There are lots of ways to make a turkey. Google it, YouTube it and follow the cooking directions on the back of the turkey. We do not stuff it, rather cook the vegetables around the turkey and stuffing separately, but that’s just a personal preference of ours! As a good rule to follow, there should be about 1 1/2 -2 pounds per person. We love having leftovers, so that’s something to keep in mind.
I never knew there was so much to think about to prep a turkey, but defrosting it is a HUGE part of the process. It is best to thaw turkey in the refrigerator, where it’s too cold for harmful bacteria to grow. Use the bottom shelf, in case of drips or place paper towels underneath. We keep it in the original packaging, face side up. Plan ahead to allow a full day for every 4 pounds of turkey being thawed.
If you decide to spatchcock the turkey, this video is really helpful! It cuts down on cook down big time!
If you decide to cook a fresh turkey or thaw out a frozen one, remove the giblets and save them for gravy stock (if you want!). I’ll be honest, this is where my husband steps in! Not my favorite part. Rinse the turkey under cool running water, and dry it inside and out with paper towels.
Choose a sturdy plan to cook it in. A pan that is heavy, stainless steel with handles is super helpful. We love our’s from Target and it’s always on sale too 🙂
Once the turkey is fully defrosted, brine it for 12-24 hours (depending on size) before cooking or use a dry rub, which is what we use. There is a premade one like Urban Accents or use a simple recipe:
Cooking: This will vary depending the size and whether it’s stuffed. Below is a chart we use as a guide from All Recipes
|Weight of Bird||Roasting Time (Unstuffed)||Roasting Time (Stuffed)|
|10 to 18 pounds||3 to 3-1/2 hours||3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours|
|18 to 22 pounds||3-1/2 to 4 hours||4-1/2 to 5 hours|
|22 to 24 pounds||4 to 4-1/2 hours||5 to 5-1/2 hours|
|24 to 29 pounds||4-1/2 to 5 hours||5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours|
Manny’s Spatchcocked Turkey Recipe
For the butter:
I love this side dish so much actually anytime of the year!
Always great to have on the table for a side! Recipe linked here.
I love to have a salad at a large meal for a few reasons. If you have vegetarians, it’s great, but it also adds beautiful colors on the table.
This recipe is so easy! My MIL gave me it me last year and they went! It’s a great appetizer for people to grab.
This recipe has been a family staple in my house ever since I was a kid. It’s one of my absolute favorites! It adds a lot of color to the table. You can add champagne or use sparkling juice, both taste great.
I love pumpkin pie. Is it really Thanksgiving without one on the table? NO! I have to say, since we host Friendsgiving, we don’t make homemade pies. It’s just too much work! But there are so many places you can pick up from like Bang, Bang Pie.
If you need some hosting ideas, you can see more here!
You can shop anything above here!
As always, thanks for following along and you can follow me on Instagram. Most importantly, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am thankful for so much, including being able to share all this with you.
I hope some of these tips and recipes help you entertain this holiday season! Friendsgiving is my favorite! Let me know if you make any of these recipes, I would love to see how your dinners turn out.