Friends, food and festivities. What more could you want?
Friendsgiving is one of our favorite ways to kick off the holiday season. As a stand-alone holiday where you get to set the rules, it’s a fun way to try new, unique foods and spend time with some of your favorite people.
There’s no need to repeat the traditional Thanksgiving meal, since most of your friends will likely be enjoying those foods with their families. Keep it fun, creative and easy, and encourage your friends to bring some of their own dishes for a potluck-style feast.
Read on for some of our favorite tips, recipes and shortcuts, and have a happy Friendsgiving!
5 Tips for a Fabulous Friendsgiving
Hosting Friendsgiving should be fun. Keep it light and creative, and enlist your friends to help, too. We do recommend making a game plan, so the whole affair can be smooth sailing. With a little planning ahead, you’ll have a memorable, stress-free gathering destined to become a new tradition. Here are some of our go-to tips.
1. Keep it simple. Avoid laborious, time-intensive recipes. The easiest option is to host a potluck-style gathering. Prepare a main course and maybe a starter and let your friends handle the rest. For the table setting, keep decorations minimal and inexpensive. We like to tuck fresh sprigs of thyme or rosemary in guests’ napkins, add a few unscented votives and decorate with available greenery and berries. For more ideas, check out our decorating tips.
2. Start early. Whether it’s setting the table or assembling a casserole, anything you can do ahead of time will help you check one more thing off your to-do list. That means more time with your friends on the day-of, and isn’t that what this is all about?
3. Take shortcuts. We offer a variety of pre-washed, cut-in-store vegetables, so you don’t have to chop, slice, dice and clean up the leftovers. Remember, not everything has to be made entirely from scratch in order to be delicious. Discover ways you can save time without sacrificing quality or flavor.
4. Rethink the menu. This doesn’t have to be your traditional Thanksgiving meal. Chances are, your friends will be having turkey and dressing on Turkey Day, so why not mix up the menu? Try proteins, spices and preparations you wouldn’t typically employ. Keep it fun, fresh and creative!
5. Don’t forget the music! A fun gathering calls for fun music, which also helps set the tone for the meal. Keep your playlist casual and upbeat—think Motown and classic oldies with some modern tunes mixed in.
Pro Tip: Ask your friends to bring food containers so they can take leftovers home with them.
Festive Sips to Satisfy the Whole Bunch
Wine is always great to have for your meal, but while you’re mixing and mingling with friends, cocktails are the way to go. Make a big batch ahead of time so you’ll have enough to satisfy a crowd and won’t have to play bartender.
1White Sangria Punch
We love punch-bowl recipes for get-togethers with friends. Our White Sangria Punch is a real crowd-pleaser. Fresh grapes, citrus, Sauvignon Blanc and Fentiman’s Ginger Beer mingle with rosemary sprigs for a refreshing sip.
We also have a delicious recipe for Fall Sangria made with red wine, cranberry juice, The Fresh Market Sparkling Mineral Water, blackberries, raspberries and pomegranates that your friends will love.
3Cranberry Citrus Fizz
If you want something that sparkles, go for Cranberry Citrus Fizz made with sparkling lemonade, blood orange and cranberry juice. We use lemonade ice cubes in this recipe, so you won’t have to deal with a diluted drink!
4Cranberry Blueberry Smash for a Crowd
Finally, our Cranberry Blueberry Smash for a Crowd is always a smash hit. Fresh mint, lime, bourbon and ginger beer play well with tart cranberries and blueberries.
The Fresh Market Friendsgiving Menu
Need some menu inspiration? Here are some of our favorite non-traditional recipes to suit a variety of tastes. From quick and easy apps to crowd-pleasing desserts and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.
While you and your friends sip on cocktails, it’s a good idea to have some light snacks on hand. Try to avoid heavy dishes so your guests don’t fill up before the main event. Bonus: All of these recipes can be made in advance or in less than 30 minutes.
We love savory-sweet Cheese and Fig Bites. Made with puff pastry, fig jam, Honeycrisp apple, Cambozola cheese and fresh thyme, every bite is full of fall flavor. Another comforting favorite is our Cheesy Pumpkin Dip with Hard Cider, ready in less than 30 minutes. Pumpkin, cream cheese, cider and spices blend together beautifully, with a savory topping of crispy bacon and fresh chives.
And, of course, you can’t go wrong with our Take & Bake Brie wrapped in buttery puff pastry. Choose from Strawberry Walnut, Raspberry Almond, Apricot Almond or our special Take & Bake Holiday Brie, which serves 8-12 guests.
Looking for something vegetable-based? Try our Sweet and Savory Roasted Root Vegetable Dip made with roasted golden beets and carrots pureed with honey and spice, topped with crumbled feta, fresh parsley and chives. The best part? You can make this dish in advance and serve it at room temperature.
Save the bird for Turkey Day and opt for something a little more unexpected, like creamy New England chowder, stuffed crown roast or lamb. These three recipes are easy to make and are sure to impress your guests.
You can whip up this cozy New England-Style Cod Chowder in less than an hour. Made with fresh herbs, rich cream and a savory bacon garnish, it’s the perfect non-traditional entrée to share with friends. Just be prepared for them to ask for the recipe!
If you’re looking for a centerpiece-worthy dish, try Stuffed Crown Roast with Apple and Herbs. Don’t be intimidated by the name—this entrée is easy to make and filled with a delectable apple and herb stuffing that’s sure to delight everyone at your table.
You can also make Roast Lamb with Harissa for a real Friendsgiving show-stopper. Seasoned with harissa, this lamb is roasted and served with potatoes, baby tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Before serving, sprinkle the dish with fresh parsley and mint and serve with a white wine and harissa sauce.
From a reimagined green bean casserole to a protein-rich vegetarian dish (that also doubles as an excellent main course for your vegetarian friends), these stellar sides make it easy to round out your Friendsgiving feast.
Treat your friends to one of our favorite recipes: Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad. Simply roast carrots with cherry, apple and rosemary glaze until tender and caramelized, then serve atop fluffy quinoa, baby arugula and dried cherries. Top with pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds and feta for a vibrant presentation.
If you’re looking to recreate a classic, try French Green Bean and Chanterelle Casserole. This dressed-up take on a traditional favorite calls for baby portabellas, meaty chanterelle mushrooms and cipollini onions and gets its creaminess from crème fraiche. It gets topped with (real) crispy onions for that crave-worthy crunch.
We also have an outstanding recipe for Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Dates and Hazelnuts that is delectable enough to convert even the staunchest Brussels sprout-bashers. These are caramelized with date syrup and Medjool dates, then sprinkled with crispy pancetta and toasted hazelnuts.
No need to stress over the final course. Let us take care of the sweet stuff! Try any of our fresh-baked pies or pound cakes for dessert. Want to take these treats to the next level? Check out our pairing and topping suggestions below.
Add a rustic touch to your Friendsgiving spread with our hand-pleated Colonial Apple Pie. The tender, flaky crust is loaded with fresh Ida Red apples, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked in-store. Weighing in at four pounds, it’s a veritable feast! Top it with Cinnamon Whipped Cream for an unforgettable treat.
We also have Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie studded with creamy chocolate chips, delicious with a drizzle of our easy-to-make Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with our Caramel Apple Pound Cake—it’s moist, dotted with caramel and topped with cinnamon streusel. Drizzle it with The Fresh Market Chocolate and/or Caramel Sauce for a striking presentation.