a feature article by Sarina Peddy, Elementary School Teacher
This time of year when thinking and giving go hand in hand, there’s a fun and easy way to celebrate friends. Have a ‘Friendsgiving’!
While Thanksgiving is often all about family, this celebration embraces the depth of friendship and all that is dear to a relationship. What better way than to feast together and enjoy the company of those you care about.
The act of celebrating Thanksgiving with friends rather than relatives (either on the actual holiday or another day in November), Friendsgiving is gaining popularity. These parties may not be as conventional as a family dinner, but what they lack in tradition they make up for in originality, fun, and of course, delicious food.
Fun as it is, holding Friendsgiving probably isn’t as simple as throwing together a backyard barbecue or a party in the basement. See, it’s first and foremost a dinner party, and every guest needs not just a place to sit, but also a place to set the food down and eat (unless your friends happen to have a third hand and can juggle a full plate of food and a glass of wine while dining).
Here are my top 5 tips for surviving the perfect Friendsgiving party!
• Invite only as many people as you can comfortably seat in your home (or tiny apartment).
• The bird (and gravy) should be the host’s responsibility, since it’s easier to cook at the party venue than for someone else to prepare and transport it. Decide how big yours should be (the USDA recommends one pound per person, but go bigger if you want leftovers), and at least one week ahead of time, decide where you’ll buy your turkey. If it’s frozen, keep in mind that it will need to thaw in the fridge for about 24 hours for every four to five pounds.
• You can prepare the sides yourself as well, but it will be more fun for everyone—and less work for you—if the guests get involved. Ask them to bring their favorite dishes from growing up or something that’s unique to their culture. And for the friends who say they’re too busy (or too kitchen-adverse) to cook, give them the ever-important job of bringing the wine!
• There’s no need to go overboard with floral centerpieces or intricate decorations. If you desire a little holiday spirit, cover the tables with festive tablecloths and mark each place setting with a mini gourd or pumpkin from the farmer’s market.
• Ask friends to come over about an hour before you want to serve dinner, and have appetizers ready for them to snack on as they catch up with one another before taking their seats. Plan to take the turkey out of the oven at least 30 minutes prior to chow time. And, heat up guests’ side dishes if necessary. Lastly, make sure everyone brings containers to take leftovers home in—chances are you’ll have plenty to share and one person can eat only so many turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sandwiches.*
Try out one of my favorite dishes that was brought to my Friendsgiving… soooo delicious!
Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 ½ lbs. Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup pancetta, diced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Trim stem, remove any yellow or brown outer leaves and cut brussels sprouts in half. Combine brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and toss to fully coat. Spread brussels sprouts on one large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) in a single layer and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir sprouts around the baking sheet. Bake for another 15 minutes. Drizzle maple syrup over brussels sprouts and stir to coat. Bake for another 10 minutes.
While the brussels sprouts are in the oven, cook the pancetta in a cast iron skillet (or large sauté pan) over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove brussels sprouts from the oven. Add the pancetta to the pan and stir to combine. Serve immediately.