How to throw the perfect Bay Area Friendsgiving
Throwing a perfect Friendsgiving for your Bay Area pals? Where to start? How to impress? What’s for dessert? Don’t sweat it – and by “it” we mean the menu, the centerpiece, party favors, and all of the rest! We’re here to help. Dig into the suggestions below. You’ll have your perfect Bay Area Friendsgiving rolling in no time.
Don’t scrimp. Order a free-range turkey.
Let’s talk turkey. Should you splurge for free range? The short answer is yes. Sure, free-range birds cost more, because they’re raised in an environmentally sustainable way. Some say this makes them taste better. Surprisingly, these birds are only a skosh more expensive than traditional turkeys – and your guests will be so impressed, they won’t stop gobbling your praise.
Pro tip: Pay attention to the labels and order your bird early. Free-range turkeys fly off the shelves this time of year. Start your search at the Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop at Rockridge Market Hall in Oakland.
Why not serve crab, too?
The start of Dungeness crab season and Thanksgiving collide for a reason – to make your Friendsgiving even tastier. Serve your crustaceans chilled or roasted. (Don’t forget the drawn butter.) Monterey Fish Market in Berkeley and JP Seafood in Alameda will hook you up. They’ll even clean your crab for you. You could also schlep over to the Alioto-Lazio Fish Company on Fisherman’s Wharf. The location may be a tourist trap, but the shop is local, family-owned, and a favorite of fishmongers.
Ask your guests to bring a dish (It’s okay)
It is perfectly acceptable to ask friends to bring a dish. The key is to coordinate. Nobody needs more than a single dish of cranberry sauce, but everybody can make a run to the Berkeley Bowl. Popular dishes to assign could include classic favorites, such as sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, side salads, and dessert. Try creating a shared Google spreadsheet with all the needed items and a space where people can sign up.
Pro tip #1: Don’t be a meathead – remember your vegetarians. Include a spot on the spreadsheet for dietary restrictions.
Pro tip #2: Have a backup plan. Somebody will forget their dish.
Choosing the right centerpiece
Selecting the right floral arrangement for your Friendsgiving table can seem like a challenge. And it’s certainly true that the right arrangement helps create the perfect atmosphere. The key is not to overthink it, but do think about this: Know your table size, know your color scheme, and know your budget. Looking for inspiration? Check out Farmgirl Flowers’ Instagram feed or pop by Ashby’s on Telegraph in Berkeley and chat with a florist.
Finding a worthy wine
You already love drinking wine with your friends, but what’s the best bottle of wine to go with your Friendsgiving feast? There are two schools of thought when it comes to planning your pairings. You could head over to BevMo, become overwhelmed by the choices, and grab the bottles with the best-looking labels. Or you could take the time to visit a specialty shop – like Kermit Lynch or Wine on Piedmont in Berkeley – and let the experts help guide the way.
Pro tip: Go with the specialty shop.
Pies! Pies! Pies!
No time to make your Friendsgiving pie from scratch? No problem. It’s okay to outsource, especially in a region renowned for its baked goods, but why not think outside the pie box? Think bourbon pecan. Think cranberry walnut. Think about placing your order before it’s too late. Top Bay Area spots for pies include Black Jet Bakery in San Francisco, Crispian Bakery in Alameda, and PieTisserie or the Market Hall Bakery in Oakland.
Hike Before You Eat
Getting your guests together for a hike before the big meal makes a lot of sense. There’s no better way to justify that second helping of dressing or that extra slice of pie. It’s an even better idea in the Bay Area, which is blessed with so many pristine hikes within an easy hour’s drive, including Diablo Foothills, Sibley Volcanic Preserve, and Grizzly Peak. Just pick your trail, plan your meet-up, then head back to your place to feast.
Giving thanks with good food and friends should be a joyful occasion. The key to a stress-free Friendsgiving is in the planning. Plan your menu, ask everyone to pitch in, and remember to have fun. (Remember the wine, too.) Your friends won’t merely be impressed by the meal you’ve prepared in their honor. They’ll be positively thankful.