These Friendsgiving Dinner Tips Will Help You Throw The Best Get-Together Of All Time

This article includes paid advertising content from American Express.

Whether you’re pre-empting the Thanksgiving holiday with your best buds before heading home, or you’re planning to unwind from a little too much family time post-Turkey Day, Friendsgiving has become a holiday that requires careful forethought. From picking a date and time that works for your whole friend group to accommodating various dietary restrictions, executing a flawless Friendsgiving affair is no small feat.

If you volunteered to host this year’s gathering (or if your dear friends volunteered you because your apartment boasts the most square footage), you might be anticipating any number of holiday-specific stressors, like deciding what food to serve, or figuring out how to fund the many, many ingredients on your shopping list. To help you master the art of being the hostess with the most-est, Bustle has teamed up with American Express to bring you tips that’ll help the day go as smoothly as possible.

Before you get to basting the turkey, read up on a few simple strategies that'll help you plan (and perfect) your Friendsgiving get-together.

Start Planning Early

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Getting started on your menu planning, guest list, and even decor plans a few weeks in advance gives you the luxury of breaking up your shopping into multiple trips — and also taking advantage of more holiday promotions and stocking up on ingredients as they go on sale.

You'll also want to consider how much of the festivities you'll be funding yourself, and which ones you'll want to ask your friends to contribute to. For example, when it comes to your wine selection, are you going to want to start off with a few bottles for guests, or ask everyone to bring their favorite bottle? If your plan is the former, making sure you have plenty of time to plan makes it so much easier to build up your supply by picking up a bottle or two at a time as you're walking past your local wine store. If you're planning a bring-your-own wine situation, the advance planning also gives your guests the courtesy of planning their own contributions.

Calculate The Cost

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Once you’ve thought through your menu and made a shopping list, commit yourself to an amount you’re willing to spend on your soiree. (If this sounds suspiciously like budgeting, that’s because it is.) Break down your overall allowance into different categories, setting certain limits for things like groceries, decor, and even cleaning supplies. When it comes to making payments, you can take your financial savvy to the next level by utilizing American Express' Pay It Plan It® feature* available with eligible Cards, which was designed specifically with these challenges in mind. The Pay It feature lets you pay off purchase amounts under $100 to get those charges off your mind, while the Plan It feature lets you split up larger purchase amounts over a set period of time, with no interest and a fixed monthly fee so your cost is clear from the get-go.

Trim The Menu

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Those dietary restrictions I mentioned? Factor them in before you even hit the grocery store to make sure you're not stocking up on ingredients you may not be able to use. Got a significant number of friends with nut allergies? Nix that homemade pecan pie. Have a few gluten free devotees in attendance? You might be better off trying a quinoa stuffing this year.

Restrictions aside, also consider what staples are crowd pleasers and which ones leave you with less-than-desirable leftovers for a week. For example, if you've consistently noticed leftover homemade cranberry sauce hanging out in your fridge for weeks past your celebration, maybe opt for a cheaper, pre-made version this year — or scrap less popular items like it from the menu altogether.

Make Room For Mingling

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Now that your menu and guest list is under control, you can put some thought into your mingling strategy. Even if you have a relatively big apartment, you'll want to maximize your space to accommodate more people than usual. Try pushing your furniture against the wall to open up room for milling around while still giving your guests a place to sit and relax. If you live in a big city, and by extension, a small apartment, you’ll definitely have to get creative with your serving spots. Repurpose flat surfaces like your coffee table or dresser and turn them into a temporary buffet station. Just cover with a festive tablecloth, and you're good to go!

Keep A Cool Vibe... Literally

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Set your alarm early on the morning of the big day and get a head start on prepping any dishes that require the use of your oven. Nothing cranks up the heat in a small space faster than having the oven on nonstop, so get most of the heavy lifting (or cooking, as the case may be) out of the way while you’re still flying solo in the kitchen. Bonus? This frees up more time for you to spend with your friends.

This post is backed by American Express.

*Terms apply. Visit americanexpress.com/payitplanit to learn more.