Friendsgiving is a lot like Thanksgiving—but much more fun. While the trend was initially popularized by displaced millennials who couldn’t afford the airfare home, Friendsgiving has become a popular excuse to enjoy two Thanksgiving dinners—a custom we fully endorse. Ready to plan your celebration? This three-part series is your go-to guide to hosting the ultimate fall feast. From designing the perfect table scape to mixing up boozy beverages to cooking a fabulous, chef-inspired meal, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

Part I: Simple Decor

Our inspiration for setting the Friendsgiving scene? Laid-back, natural, and carefree. We chatted with Denver blogger and event producer Kaitlin Chad, who writes about parties, recipes, home styling, fashion, and more on her blog, The Every Hostess. Not only is she a party-planning expert, she’s successfully hosted her own Friendsgiving gathering in the past. Here, she shares some no-fuss, budget-friendly ideas for readying your home and table for a Friendsgiving dinner party like a pro.

A cozy, outdoor Friendsgiving table designed by Kaitlin Chad. —Photo by Meredith Moran Photography

5280: Let’s start with flowers. Though floral centerpieces can be gorgeous, when they’re too tall they can block conversation and visibility. What are your thoughts on flower height?

Chad: I would say flowers should be no more than a foot tall—about one foot or lower is perfect. That way they’re still lush, but not overbearing. You’re likely going to have food and gravy and stuff on the table too, so you don’t want the flowers to take over.

Aside from flowers, what are some alternative ways to decorate?

I always love candles. It’s never a bad idea to have a few fall-scented candles burning when guests arrive. Then, I would say bring in natural elements. Mini pumpkins are always great, or forage your backyard. You could literally forage anything—pinecones, leaves, crabapples. We’re lucky here in Colorado, there are so many spaces to go and just look at what’s there. And if you set up a buffet table for the food, don’t forget to decorate that too.

How do you set and decorate the table for a casual Friendsgiving gathering so that it feels festive but not formal?

My philosophy on table setting is that you want to create an experience for your guests when they sit down. Make the setting its own dimension. When I hosted Friendsgiving, we laid down kraft paper on the table instead of a cloth, and set out crayons and markers. By the end of the night, people were drawing and writing, and playing games of tic-tac-toe. Other than flowers, you can also think about using fall fruits at the table to decorate, or spray painting leaves gold and scatter them around. For a play on place cards, you could slice the top off a mini pumpkin and put the place card on top. If you have friends coming that are going to get rowdy, save the nice glassware for a more traditional holiday gathering. Read your crowd.

So you still recommend place settings, even for a casual get together like this?

I always do place settings whenever I throw a dinner party. It’s just more fun to be in charge of who sits next to each other. I don’t think of it like breaking up couples—I break up friend groups rather than couples. This encourages new friendships and conversations.

What’s the ideal number of guests to invite to Friendsgiving?

A couple of years ago, I hosted 20 people—it was a lot. I’d say ideally, you’d want around 10 people. It’s a good-size crowd, so things don’t go to waste, but it’s still intimate.

—Photo by Meredith Moran Photography

What differentiates Friendsgiving from your more traditional holiday celebration?

We did ham as the main meat, since everyone would be having turkey in a couple of weeks. You can do it potluck style, or however you want. I just asked each guest to bring a bottle of wine. It’s just really supposed to be fun.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our Friendsgiving Pinterest board.

Shop Like the Every Hostess

DIY decor not your thing? Don’t fret. Chad shares her go-to stops for everything party related.

Paper Trail: Chad turns to Rifle Paper Co. for gorgeous place cards and stationery. She also likes Paper Source for cards and other decor staples.

Best Buds: When it comes to flowers, Chad gets her blooms from local designers Ladybird Poppy Floral Design and Plum Sage Flowers.

Easy as Pie: Chad adores the delicious desserts from The Long I Pie Shop. The twee mini pies are even pretty enough to double as table decor, as seen in the photo above.

Party On: Looking for fancy and unique touches for your party? Heed Chad’s recommendation and hit up the The Entertaining Shoppe for a well curated selection of party supplies, from banners to cupcake toppers to cute paper straws.

Forking Awesome: Anthropologie and West Elm are Chad’s picks for gorgeous tableware like plates and cutlery.

All Dressed Up: As the host of the party, you’ll want to look your best. Chad shops Denver-based boutique Goldyn for threads.

Next Up: We mix the drinks (Part II) and plan the menu (Part III).

(Read all of the articles in our Friendsgiving Entertaining Series)

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.