Serving up an Alfresco Friendsgiving

Fall signifies the time of year when life begins to slow down a bit and we all make our way back to reconnecting with those who matter most. Typically celebrated in lieu of Thanksgiving, or in addition to it, Friendsgiving is often considered Thanksgiving’s less intimidating counterpart – placing more emphasis on enjoying the company of friends, rather than the stress of preparing an elaborate meal. One of the best ways to evoke this more casual atmosphere is to take the party outside. Here’s how to do it flawlessly.

Setting the Scene

There’s just something about Thanksgiving that conjures up warm and cozy feelings. Bring that feeling outside with string lights, candles and festive table settings. This will set the tone for the evening and will keep your gathering well-lit into the night. And just because you’ll be outside doesn’t mean your tablescape has to suffer. It can have as many or as few frills as you want; just be sure any napkins or lightweight objects are weighted down in case of unexpected wind.

Keep the Party Outside

Gathering outdoors will be the antithesis of relaxing if you find yourself making nonstop trips between your kitchen and patio. Utilize your outdoor kitchen, or plan ahead by adding dishes to your menu that are best served at room temperature, or even cold. For everything else, consider using hot plates or chafing dishes at an outdoor serving station to keep everything right-out-of-the-oven warm and ready to serve.

Having a variety of drinks is a must at any get-together. To eliminate guests making trips inside every time they need a refill, set up a libation station. While a cooler is a must for keeping drinks nice and cold, a slow cooker can be an excellent addition to your station for warm spiked apple cider or hot buttered rum.

Food for Thought

Thanksgiving is customarily a tradition-heavy holiday; many of the dishes served are family staples that have been prepared for generations. Friendsgiving, however, is an opportunity to experiment with your menu and test out those new recipes you’ve been so eager to try. Additionally, when being held outside, it’s also a time to think about the best kind of food to cook. Maximize your outdoor space as much as possible by utilizing your grill. Instead of roasting a whole turkey in the oven, try grilling turkey breasts or legs. Not only will this allow you to stay outside, rather than hiding out in the kitchen, but your friends will also love this new take on a Thanksgiving classic.

Handling the Elements with Ease

There’s nothing that could dampen your plans quite like a cold or rainy forecast. If you are committed to hosting your Friendsgiving celebration outdoors, have a contingency plan in case the weather is not in your favor. Proactively setting the table under a covered area helps to eliminate weather worry. If that’s not your ideal locale, however, having a shelter tent on hand can easily save the day from rain. Temperature can also make or break your alfresco gathering. If you live in an area where the cold can creep in, firepits, outdoor heaters and blankets will make your guests forget all about the chill in the air. Hot weather can be alleviated by utilizing shaded areas of your backyard, employing fans and serving ice-cold drinks.

Follow us on Instagram at @frontgate, where we’ll be serving up some of our favorite Friendsgiving tips and tricks. And head over to our Ultimate Friendsgiving Prep Checklist blog for a rundown of all your hosting essentials.