When I lived with roommates, we established a tradition of having people over for a Friendsgiving dinner right before the actual Thanksgiving holiday. The first time we hosted was, as they say, a “learning experience.” Not only did we spend almost the entire day scrambling to finish up last minute to-dos in a total frenzy, but we also decided to cook a traditional meal entirely by ourselves in our tiny kitchen, despite the fact that none of us had any experience cooking a turkey. On top of that, we spent hours cleaning up and stowing away copious leftovers after our guests had left. Afterward I was so tired I felt like I’d just run a marathon, even though I’ve never run a marathon and I’m sure those who have will attest that mopping up crusted-over gravy is not akin to the experience, but nonetheless, I felt I’d earned a Gatorade sponsorship or something.
The silver lining (and here’s your annual reminder that there always is one) was that our rather harrowing Friendsgiving debut prepared us beautifully for all our subsequent Friendsgivings to follow. We modified a few things the following year in order to achieve our ideal vibe, which is, in a few words, cozy as a bear in July. Not too fussy. Warm and inviting. Super chill and comfy. At this point, I like to think we’ve more or less perfected the art.
My expertise now extends to the perfect Friendsgiving attire, too, and this year it can be found in Zappos’ new Cozy Shop, which boasts a wide array of extremely pettable pieces, from toasty fleece jackets to head-hugging beanies. Scroll below for a veteran’s guide to throwing a cozy feast your friends won’t forget, paired with snug-as-a-bug outfits from Zappos.
The Party “Prep”: No Fuss, Just Candles
Your best friends don’t give two hoots if you fluffed your pillows and polished your sink handles, I assure you. Instead of cleaning your apartment top to bottom, do some (very) light tidying, turn the lights low (the better to hide your tangled cable wires, my dear), and light enough candles to do your sweet sixteenth birthday cake justice. I recommend doing so at least half an hour before guests arrive so the whole space will smell gorgeous by the time they start to trickle in.
The Dress Code: Something Soft
Save high heels and cinched-in party dresses for December–now is the time for cuddling yourself by way of your closet. Tell your friends to wear their coziest ensembles. Suggestions include: fuzzy Birkenstocks with sparkly socks, velvety corduroys, and sweaters moonlighting as scarves. This is your opportunity to prove that “aesthetically pleasing” and “supremely comfortable” are not mutually exclusive.
The New Tradition: Dessert First, Please and Thank You
Much like watching TV late on a weeknight or spending so much time in the bath that your fingers turn into prunes, eating dessert before dinner is a cozy adult privilege that is very much worth indulging in once and awhile. I would recommend asking your friends to bring enough little desserts that you’ll have a real smorgasbord on your hands. Lay everything out on a table, disseminate some forks, and dig in like mom isn’t watching (because she’s not!!!!!!).
The Main Meal: Permission Granted to Order Takeout
If you’re an experienced cook and feel up to the task of meal prepping for a crew, I salute you. But if you, like me, rarely cook more than a scrambled egg, then Friendsgiving dinner is not the time to get ambitious. You have enough to do what with all the hosting and candle lighting. Skip cooking and order takeout–whatever makes you feel cozy, whether that be traditional turkey and stuffing or an extra-large pepperoni pizza. Whatever you decide on, dish it out onto some cute plates and your guests will be just as delighted as if you’d spent all day with a baster in hand.
The After Party: Cozy Couch Time
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do after a cozy and decadent Friendsgiving dinner is “go out.” I’m in the zone! The cozy zone! Why would I interrupt that by prematurely leaving the confines of a warm apartment, while I’m still basking in the sweet sweet thrill of wearing my favorite sweater and eating pie before protein, to venture forth into a cold, loud, sticky bar? No no no, take my advice and revel in the cozy zone for as long as you can. Make your after party a couch party. Drink hot beverages. Tuck your feet under your shins. Do a puzzle. Rest your cheek on your friends’ shoulders. Steep yourself, teabag-style, in the coziness for as long as you can.
What are your tips for stress-free, cozy-as-a-bear-in-July Friendsgiving dinners? I’d love to hear them.
Photographer: Marley Rizzuti
Stylist: Harling Ross
Styling Assistant Share Koech
Models: Margaret Sohn, Tiffany Leyla, and Yel Rennalls of We Speak Models
Makeup: Jenna Scavone
Hair: Sergio Estrada
Photo Assistant: Erik Rasmussen
Prop Stylist: Andrea C. Parra
Market and Production Assistance: Juliana Salazar