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How to Customize Friendsgiving For Your Friend Group

How to Pull Off the Ultimate Friendsgiving For Your Crew's Vibe

The beauty of Friendsgiving is that it's a more relaxed way to celebrate Thanksgiving: you don't have the pressure of hosting your entire extended family or built-in expectations about how the table should be set or what should be on the menu. Since it's a more casual holiday party, Friendsgiving is also easily customizable to fit the vibe of your friend group. Consider this your guide to hosting a perfectly personalized Friendsgiving.

Prep Your Bar Cart

Before you have friends over, make sure your bar is ready to host. First, take inventory of your glassware: having a few different shapes like highball glasses, rocks glasses, and martini glasses on hand means you'll be prepared to shake up just about any cocktail.

Next, turn your attention to the liquor and mixers. It's always a good idea to stock up on common cocktail ingredients like club soda, tonic, fresh lemon and lime, and simple syrup in addition to your favorite spirits like vodka, whiskey, and tequila. Don't overlook liqueurs, either: These sweetened spirits typically pack quite a flavorful punch, so they're a simple way to amp up almost any cocktail. Cointreau — the iconic orange liqueur made with both sweet and bitter orange peels — is a staple in hundreds of cocktails and a bar cart essential in its own right.

Customize the Menu

No shade to turkey, but the traditional Thanksgiving spread isn't always the most exciting. Instead of sticking to the same old recipes, customize the menu to fit your friend group. Maybe you love some of the tried-and-true options like sweet-potato casserole and cornbread stuffing but want to serve them alongside a different main course, like T-bone steaks or a whole roasted cauliflower.

Just because you're hosting doesn't mean you need to cook the entire meal, either. If your group of friends loves to cook, invite them over early in the day to prepare dinner together. Or if you'd rather spend more time hanging out and less time in the kitchen, make it a potluck and ask everyone to bring their favorite fall dish. Just don't forget to coordinate what everyone is bringing in the group text — you probably don't need three different types of mashed potatoes.

You can also make Friendsgiving feel extra special by serving a signature cocktail. Choose one that you know all your friends will like — the classic cosmopolitan is always a crowd-pleaser, and it's so visually stunning that it's almost made for Instagram. Originally created in 1988 at The Odeon in New York City, this festive pink cocktail is made with Cointreau, vodka, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice.

Take the Opportunity to Give Back

Since Friendsgiving marks the start of the holiday season, it's also the perfect time to think about how you can give back. Start by participating in the Cointreau Cosmos for a Cause program: Every time you post a photo of a homemade cosmo on Instagram and tag #Cosmosforacause and @Cointreau_us, Cointreau will make a donation to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, up to $100,000. Get all of your friends to post their cosmos to expand your impact!

While you're sipping your cosmos, spend some time brainstorming what else you can do for your community. Find a cause you're all passionate about, and make a plan to start volunteering as a group, whether it's at a local animal shelter, food bank, or community center. It's a lovely way to give back — and have a good time doing it!

Plan an After-Dinner Activity

Dinner may be the main event, but that doesn't mean you have to just sink into a food coma once you're done eating. Planning an after-dinner activity not only gives you something to do after you polish off the last piece of pie but also keeps the fun going while you digest.

If your friend group includes a lot of big personalities, choose something that gives them an opportunity to put on a show, like living-room karaoke. For a more subdued vibe, start a board-game tournament or challenge the group to face off in poker.

Illustrations: Katie Smith