Whether you're doing it instead of or in addition to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, throwing a Friendsgiving party is a great way to gather together with your special friends to celebrate the spirit of the season. While the term "Friendsgiving" has only been a part of popular culture for about ten years, the concept of gathering friends is timeless, and can be quite a fun and heartwarming experience. Many people hosting Friendsgiving opt to provide the turkey and ask friends to bring sides and desserts as pot-luck contributions. Often guests are also asked to bring their favorite wine / other beverage, and sometimes certain friends are invited to help with decorations as well. However you choose to put it together, it's a wonderful chance for your friends to show off their cooking skills, creativity, and personal flair.
First, consider how you will send out invitations.... will you do paper? An e-vite? Facebook event? Regardless of the format, it's a good idea to use your invitation to help get a solid idea of headcount, dietary restrictions, and what people plan to bring. You can leave it open-ended and just tell people to bring whatever they like, but that does run the risk of four people showing up with sweet potato casserole. Even though it may seem a little like work, asking for specific information about people's food plans / requirements will make things much smoother and more enjoyable on the day itself. For some help with organization and planning, check out this (downloadable and free) potluck sign up sheet from The Kitchn.
As to when to hold the party, you can really do it whenever-- you could schedule it for any of the weekends leading up to Thanksgiving, on the day itself, or the weekend after (although remember that that option may conflict with some people's Black Friday weekend shopping plans). Another nice hosting consideration is to make sure any guests with dietary restrictions will have two to three dishes they'll be able to eat so they can enjoy the feast along with everyone else (and don't just end up munching on some salad), so make sure to factor that into your planning if at all possible.
Before everyone delves into a coma-inducing collection of food, a fun idea is to have board games, a photo station, or other entertainments on hand so guests have something to do as casserole dishes are re-heated, salads are chilled, and desserts are set out to wet appetites. If you don't have any games, etc., feel free to invite people to bring their own. For some tips on making your own DIY photo station (including printable templates for photo props), check out this article from HGTV.
Another nice touch is to encourage your guests to express what they are thankful for as part of the party activities, such as writing on a "What I'm Thankful For" wall hanging like the one below featured on Inspired By This, or covering your dinner table with a long sheet of butcher's paper and encouraging guests to write what they're thankful for with crayons or magic markers either before or during the meal.
A wonderful finishing touch is to invest in some disposable take-away containers like these on Amazon from Glad so that guests can bring leftovers home. (Try using a dry erase marker to label whose is whose if they're going in the fridge for a while.) All your friends (and their tummies) will appreciate the deliciousness stretching into the next day(s) and are sure to add you to their list of things to be thankful for.
However you arrange the food, decor, entertainment, or anything else, as long as you surround yourself with good friends and good fun, your Friendsgiving celebration is sure to create wonderful memories that will last everyone for years to come.