How to Host the Ultimate Friendsgiving (Even if Your Guests Are Vegan, Gluten-Free, or Paleo)

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Friends are the family you choose and Friendsgiving is how you celebrate how lucky you are to be in each other’s lives. So how do you keep your vegan BFF sitting on one side of you, your Paleo roomie on the other, and your friend gone gluten-free across the table, all thankful and satisfied?

With so many folks embracing different diets these days, its easy to get overwhelmed trying to accommodate everyone at dinner. Here’s how to avoid host anxiety this Friendsgiving.

The one thing that unites us all, no matter what our lifestyle, is plant based foods. Throwing a vegan dinner party is actually an easy way to bring people closer together. For starters, no one needs to worry about whether they can eat something or not. It’s also more economical for the host. And if you’re worried you don’t know enough vegan recipes, think again. Most of Thanksgiving inspired sides, snacks, dips, spreads and condiments are vegetable based and those that include mayo and dairy are an easy sub these days. So let’s get started!

Make a vegetable dish, your centerpiece

With a vegetable dish as your centerpiece, you can easily make meats, grains and other veggies, your side dishes. This way, no matter what your guests’ dietary preferences are, they never feel left out.

A large platter of Rosemary Maple Roasted Vegetables makes a striking centerpiece. The spectrum of colors will dazzle your guests and create a visually enticing spread. Click here for recipe.

Choose to go potluck

Another way to make sure that all your guests are satisfied with the menu options is having them contribute dishes they love. Ask your friends to bring something easy to make and easy to transport.

To ensure a well-balanced meal and to avoid duplicates, create a spreadsheet listing the categories of dishes: roasted acorn squash, stewed cranberries, mushroom gravy, garlic and sesame green beans, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or caramel apple pie and have people claim spots for making specific dishes.

Logistics: Plan to have enough of each side dish to account for half of the people at the party, but with dishes as popular as mashed potatoes, there should be enough for everyone.

Have fun with your dips, spreads, sauces and condiments

Most of the condiments we eat are naturally vegan, so use them to flavor or complement your dishes. Vinegar and lemon juice perk up veggies and gluten free grain salads, mustard and barbecue sauce create tangy marinades, and everyone loves a delicious hummus, salsa and guacamole— just make sure to put out a variety of veggies, chips and crackers!

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Set up a drink Station

To keep things simple, and to keep you from playing bartender all night long, create a signature punch for the evening. Not only will you get to enjoy the party with your guests, you’ll also create a more communal vibe by sipping punch with each other rather than with everyone having a different cocktail. For dinner, invite guests to bring a bottle of wine, with different wine options for everyone.

Try this anti-inflammatory Sparkling Turmeric Sangria.

Give the communal table some love

Fragrant eucalyptus simply draped on the tablecloth or pumpkins, gourds and squashes placed on the table can make an elegant impact, while cinnamon sticks and fragrant herbs tied up in bundles make lovely seat markers.

Adding a quote of gratitude to each seat also sparks conversation, as you ask each person around the table to read out their quote and state something they’re thankful for from this past year. It’s a beautiful way to bond with the table and start your own personal Friendsgiving tradition.

What people value most during the holidays, is having a thoughtful communal experience, so worry less about what you serve and more about what you all bring to the table.

Happy Friendsgiving!

For more ways to stay sane during the holidays, check out these helpful resources: Tackle the Holidays Like a Professional Organizer, 5 Ways to Keep a Grateful Mindset During the Holidays, and more Plant-Based Recipes for Your Holiday Table.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate the holidays with friends? Share your traditions and tips in the comments and tag us on Instagram @TheBodyBook


JULES ARON is the 4x best-selling author of Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker, Vegan Cheese, Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Cheese Recipes, Nourish and Glow and Fresh and Pure. She holds a Masters degree from New York University, is a Certified Yoga, Qigong & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, and is a Certified Health & Nutrition Coach from The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Connect: JulesAron.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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