To go home for Thanksgiving or to stay in D.C.? That is the question Grace Langham, 27, and her roommate, Arielle Koreyasu, 27, faced when they moved from Seattle to D.C. four years ago.
“Both of us weren’t super psyched about paying a bunch of money to go back to Seattle,” Langham, the vice president of a property management company, says.
So they decided to host their own “Friendsgiving.” The first year, they had six people for Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, the group had grown to 12. This year, their fourth, they aren’t sure how many people will attend, but expect it will be a sizable gathering.
Friendsgiving has grown in popularity in recent years as millennials wander farther from home for work or school. Langham and Koreyasu’s Friendsgiving has survived four years and three moves. They now host it in their three-bedroom,
1,700-square-foot rented house in D.C.ís Shaw neighborhood. Cooking and serving a successful holiday dinner in a small space is tough, but it can be done.
“The first oven was a little on the older side so it took a bit longer for everything to cook,” Langham says. Other than that, “We haven’t had any major snafus,” she says.
She chalks this up to good planning, something that culinary instructor and personal chef Marta Mirecki says is crucial.
“If you’re cooking in a smaller space, or hosting in a smaller space, it just boils down to being even better prepared,” Mirecki says. “I’m not saying this is rocket science stuff, but you’ve got to think ahead.”
Mirecki recommends planning the menu a week in advance and breaking it into three categories: what has to be made in advance, what can be made in advance and what has to be made day of.
Langham and Koreyasu have a schedule for what goes in the oven when and know exactly which serving dishes will be used for what. They cook the main dishes, and their guests bring sides. And just how do the hostesses accommodate everyone? They have a big farm table fit for a party.
Sam Sherman, 25, and his roommate, Brendan McQueen, 26, host an even larger group for their celebration the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The dinner started as a “Brosgiving” when Sherman was a junior at George Washington University, he says.
“I’ve always loved to cook so I always called dibs on hosting,” says Sherman, an office engineer for a construction company. But last year he “outsourced and potlucked it up a little bit.”
Probably because he had to accommodate nearly 25 people at his 1,700-square-foot, three-bedroom townhouse in Capitol Hill, a daunting task.
Sherman says his biggest issue is space. “We’ve gone from eating at a table to kind of buffet style,” he says. “It gets pretty intimate, and people even end up sitting on the floor, he says.
Or on couches or beanbag chairs throughout the townhouse.
“We’re reaching the point where we don’t want it to get too big,” Sherman says.
But he still loves hosting and says itís more fun than stressful. And after dinner, the group often goes ice skating at a nearby rink, ushering in the holiday season. Elle Metz (for Express)
Don’t let holiday hosting make you crazy
Hosting a big gathering for the holidays usually induces plenty of anxiety. Hosting in a small apartment can make it worse. Family psychologist Samantha Sweeney of Family Psychological Services of Capitol Hill offers advice for a stress-free gathering.
Delegate: You don’t have to do everything, “especially in a small space,” she says. You’re inviting loved ones over, don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
Prioritize: The point is to spend time with the people you love, she says. “Recognize that it
doesn’t have to be perfect.”
Set boundaries: Figure out what daily activities keep you sane — be it working out or having coffee with your significant other — and stick with them. “Even in a condo or an apartment you can still carve out a space for yourself,” Sweeney says.
Have a backup plan: Know, say, who you can call “when you are on the verge of burning the house down, literally and figuratively,” amid a holiday kitchen disaster. Pizza Hut, anyone? E.M.