Host a Beautiful + Budget-Friendly Friendsgiving

Host Friendsgiving like a pro (on a penny-pinching budget) with these DIYs, tips and tricks.

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Feel-Good Friendsgiving

Don’t let a lack of funds keep you from hosting Friendsgiving this year. Instead, set aside some time to plan and craft for a memorable dinner that’s both beautiful and budget-friendly.

Send a Potluck Evite

Start by choosing a date and inviting friends. Narrow your guest list down to a number that’s manageable for your home, and opt for an online invitation to save money and paper. Websites like Evite allow for a what-to-bring list so you can organize a potluck-style meal to help keep costs low. You should still provide the basics (turkey, beverages and your favorite side dish) — make sure your invitation reflects that information.

Gather What You Have

Raid your kitchen cabinets for your prettiest things, because this shindig is all about working with what you have. Narrow down which plates, platters, glasses and other dinnerware you’ll use.

Establish a Color Palette

Base your color palette on the items you’re using. I used green and white plates, so I chose a green, white and gold color palette paired with warm, earthy tans. Go as neutral as possible with your palette, as whites, creams and earth tones are easier to work with.

Paint Some Pinecones

Now, it’s time to DIY, and this craft is as budget-friendly as it gets. You’ll need pinecones (from your backyard!), white vinegar, acrylic paint and a paintbrush. After you’ve collected pinecones, soak them in a large bowl or bucket of warm water with 1/2 cup white vinegar. This helps kill bugs, mildew and debris. After 30 minutes, remove the pinecones from the bowl, and place them on newspaper for 1-2 hours to dry. Then, place them on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and bake them at 200 degrees for 1-2 hours, checking them frequently. Don’t leave the kitchen while baking, and be alert for smoke. The pinecones are done when they fully open up and appear dry and shiny. Once cool, paint the bottom half of each pinecone with the color of your choice, painting in the direction of the scales. Allow paint to dry, and store the pinecones until you’re ready to decorate.

Grab Some Greenery

Grocery store greenery is the easiest way to make a visual impact on a budget. Decide which greenery will work best with your color palette, and plan to buy plenty of it a couple days before the event. I went with eucalyptus because of the color, shape and smell.

Make Elegant Food Labels

After guests have signed up for food and the menu is concrete, craft labels for the food and drink stations. While you’re at it, make a label for your leftover station, too. You’ll need thick scrapbook paper, a pen or marker, scissors, acrylic paint and a paintbrush. First, decide how large you want each label to be. Cut out a rectangular section of paper, and fold it in half so it stands up. Use this as a template to cut out the rest. Label each card by freehanding with a pen or marker. Lay the cards flat on a workable surface, and paint the corners of each. To get a brushed look, similar to my cards, apply just a small amount of paint on your paintbrush before painting. Dab it off each time if necessary. Allow to dry.

Craft Simple Place Cards + Napkin Rings

Elevate your tablescape with napkin place cards that are super simple to make. You’ll need brown craft paper, twine, a pen or marker, scissors, a hole-punch and fresh rosemary. First, decide how large you’d like each place card to be, and cut one out of craft paper to serve as a template. Then, cut one for each guest. Punch a hole in the upper left corner of each card, and write your pal's name. Trim a piece of twine for each place card, and string the place card onto the twine.

Complete Place Settings

To complete your place settings, tie the twine around napkins so they scrunch slightly in the center, securing them with a bow. Ensure the place card falls on the same side of the bow each time for uniformity. Then, cut a sprig of rosemary and place into each "napkin ring".

Collect Thrift Store Candlesticks

Want your Friendsgiving dinner to ooze with ambiance? Want to achieve that for less than $10? Here’s how: Visit a few local thrift shops to find vintage brass candlesticks. Don’t worry about them matching, as a mismatched collection will give your tablescape an elegantly eclectic vibe. Visit a dollar store to buy candles, and voila! Ambiance on the cheap, my friends.

Create a Centerpiece

To create a centerpiece that’s pretty and affordable, use a terrarium, vase or lantern you already own. Fill with any type of vase filler that complements your color scheme. I found an inexpensive bag of mini faux pumpkins to fill my terrarium. To bring more prominence to your centerpiece, place the vessel on a slice of wood from your backyard. Just be sure to sand it well and seal it with a thin layer of butcher-block oil beforehand. Pro tip: While you’re at it, treat a few more wood slices, as they’ll come in handy for the food buffet, drink bar and leftover station.

Set the Scene

Now that you’ve created a centerpiece, you’re ready to set the table. Before you place the centerpiece, place your table linens — and by table linens, I mean table paper. Butcher paper works wonderfully as an inexpensive table runner that can be recycled when the night ends. After securing the runner and centerpiece, add your thrifted candlesticks.

Add Place Settings

Place each individual place setting, positioning the napkins at the center of your plates.

Layer In Some Life

Don’t forget to add greenery and pinecones to the table. I lined my runner with large eucalyptus branches and gilded pinecones. I also added small sprigs of eucalyptus to the centerpiece.

Set Up a Food Bar

Designate a station for the food bar. Again, work with what you have for this. You could set it up on an open kitchen countertop, a pretty sideboard, a spare table or even an old dresser. Use another strip of butcher paper for cohesiveness and to protect furniture from spills. Decorate the area with leftover items from your tablescape. I used spare silver dollar eucalyptus, another wood slice, some more pinecones and a few mini pumpkins.

Establish Food Placement + Flow

Think about which dishes should go where, and place your food labels accordingly. For example, your dessert should, of course, come last in line. Placing the labels ahead of time will reduce stress as guests arrive. They’ll know exactly where to set their dish — no guesswork involved.

Vary Heights

Use cake stands and pedestals to vary the height of dishes. Not only will this create more space, but it will also ensure everything is visible and easy to reach. Take the size of each dish into account the best you can, allowing enough space for each.

Create a Drink Station

Carve out a spot specifically for drinks. Start with a strip of your trusty butcher paper, and build from there. Place punch on a pedestal and glasses on a wood slice to elevate their appeal. Add in a few bottles of wine, so punch-averse pals have another option. Decorate with greenery and pinecones.

Opt for the Practicality of Punch

Serving punch or another big-batch cocktail instead of endless mixed drink options will save you money, time and effort. Concoct the cocktails before guests arrive so you’re free of any bartending duties.

Set Up a Leftover Station

Don’t let those precious leftovers go to waste. Instead, let friends take home a cute container full of their personal favorites. Make your leftover station simple. Lay down butcher paper, and use whatever’s left of your decor — place remaining pieces of greenery in a vase, scatter any remaining pinecones or pumpkins around, etc. Don't forget to include your handmade 'leftovers" label.

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