Even though the holidays will look a bit different this year, Thanksgiving is not cancelled. In fact, with many wanting to keep loved ones healthy and avoid traveling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we think a celebration with friends (they’re your chosen family after all!)—aka Friendsgiving—will be more popular than ever. And because dogs top many of our “grateful lists,” they should be invited to the table, too. (Remember—table scraps are a no-no, though!) If you’re looking to safely celebrate with your BFFs and their fur friends, we dreamed some festive Friendsgiving ideas for both in-person and virtual dog-friendly bashes.
How to Host an In-Person (and Safe) Dog-Friendly Friendsgiving
Who doesn’t love celebrating in-person with their friends (both furry and otherwise)? From how to create a pared-down guest list to how to ensure everyone and every dog has fun, let’s dive into how to plan a fun celebration that adheres to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. (Don’t forget to double check your own state’s guidelines, too, as they may have specific restrictions in place).
The Guest List
Keep your guest list small and follow the guidelines for your community to make sure everyone’s exposure stays in check. The CDC recommends not gathering together with many people, and either hosting just those people in your household (i.e. your roommates), or having a small outdoor gathering.
In terms of the four-legged guests on the list, think about how each pup interacts with other dogs. Some dogs are known to be slow to warm up, while others love to socialize. Consider inviting dogs who have met before and are known to love spending time together. Make sure your guests know that other pups will be at the gathering, so they can opt to leave Fido at home if they know their dog doesn’t get along well with others.
Casual is best for a dog-friendly Friendsgiving since guests will want to join in on the pup fun! Also, think about asking your friends to style their outfits and their dog’s outfit or bandana to match. (Get fall fashion inspo for Fido here.) You could even turn it into a competition and vote on which pair takes home the award for Best Dressed!
To cheer up guests’ inboxes, consider sending virtual Friendsgiving invites. Both Minted and Paperless Post have options you can customize. Make sure to include all of the classic details— when, where and what time—and any special additions, like what to wear and what to bring.
Adding a bit of décor to your holiday table will give it an instant festive feel. Check out these easy and budget-friendly tabletop additions that’ll give your Friendsgiving feast some flair:
1. Pumpkins and Gourds
Consider lining the center of your table with a mixture of pumpkins and gourds. Both are wonderful for adding style, texture and color. If you want to get crafty, you can paint them to create a gorgeous color palette for your table. Check out an easy DIY here.
Stop by your grocery store or farmer’s market (don’t forgot your mask!) and purchase a premade bundle of blooms. For an extra-fun and on-theme vase, you can actually turn a craft pumpkin into a bloom-bearing vessel with this DIY.
You can line your table with a greenery garland or fill vases with greens like eucalyptus. The fresh smell is always welcome, but be sure to keep it away from your doggy guests—it’s toxic to dogs and cats.
Candles create ambiance and lining them down the center of the table or clustering a few together is always a beautiful way to create a quick centerpiece. You can even mix them in with other décor elements, like so, for a multi-dimensional table setting. Just remember to keep lit candles out of reach of pets.
If you’re hosting outside per the CDC’s recommendations, look into purchasing outdoor or patio heaters if the weather’s expected to be chilly, or post a wicker basket full of extra blankets nearby for guests. Any of the décor pieces will look beautifully rustic strewn along an outdoor picnic table, and think about creating mini “pods” to keep things socially distant: You can provide small tables and chairs for each friend, or they can come prepared with their own blankets and pillows to enjoy Friendsgiving picnic-style.
Fill your Friendsgiving menu with everyone’s classic favorites. To keep things CDC-safe, consider having one person serve the food (buffets are a no-no this year), as well as sharable items, such as salad dressings and condiments, to avoid having food and serving utensils pass through multiple hands. Also consider using disposable plates and cutlery.
And don’t forget about the dogs on the guest list—they’re deserving of a Friendsgiving feast, too! For a DIY, on-theme dog treat, whip up these turkey-cranberry meatballs. For dessert, this Pooch Cake Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix for Dogs is a yummy, extra-special treat.
Sure, you have dinner on the itinerary—but as for the rest of it, see our Friendsgiving favorites for humans and dogs alike:
- Take a walk: After feasting, go for a walk together with your dogs before the tryptophan hits. You can even theme your dog’s collar and leash to the event with the Frisco Leaves Polyester Dog Collar and matching leash.
- Play fetch: Almost every dog loves a great game of fetch. Up your game by purchasing toys, like the ChuckIt! Launcher and KONG Classic Flyer Frisbee, and storing them in a basket in the yard for guests to toss and play with.
- DIY dog bandanas: Add crafting to your agenda with a pup-friendly project. Purchase fabric in advance or ask guests to bring their own, and then craft easy-to-make DIY dog bandanas. This video tutorial and this written tutorial are excellent.
- Plan a scavenger hunt: Hide treats and toys around your yard for the doggy guests to find. To avoid any spiffs, consider having one dog take a turn at a time, and be sure everyone gets a treat or two at the end!
How to Host a Virtual Dog-Friendly Friendsgiving
Turn your weekly call Zoom call with friends into a real party. From how to invite your crew and their pups to what to eat and suggestions for added joy, keep reading below to plan your own virtual Friendsgiving. It might become your favorite new annual tradition!
The Guest List
The great thing about a virtual party is that, depending on the app, you can typically invite at least a couple dozen or more guests. Fill your list with friends from near and far. You will likely want to start with an ice breaker if everyone doesn’t know each other (talking about your dogs will likely do the trick!).
Because invitations do make everything feel more fun and festive, we still think you should send an invite to everyone on your list. As we mentioned above, both Minted and Paperless Post have great virtual options. The key things to include are the date, time (keep time zones in mind) and Zoom or Google Hangouts link.
Of course, you could also mail each of your guests an invitation and even pair it with a small dog toy or treat.
Because everyone will be joining from home, comfort is definitely key! You could even turn your Friendsgiving into a pajama party. Even dogs can get in on the snuggly fun with some pet PJs, like the Frisco Holiday Fair Isle Cozy Fleece PJs.
Encourage your virtual guests to add Friendsgiving decorations with a festive backdrop. Think about hanging a banner, lining pumpkins or gourds up in the background, or making a custom Zoom backdrop. (See how here.)
Also, just because you’re virtual doesn’t mean you can’t still set the table. Pull out your “good” dinner plates and cloth napkins and set the table. A virtual Friendsgiving can definitely still be pretty!
Your Friendsgiving menu doesn’t have to be limited to only traditional Thanksgiving foods, especially with everyone in their own homes and able to plan their own menus. Consider enjoying a virtual breakfast, brunch or lunch together, or encourage everyone to order takeout from a specific cuisine. You can even do a desserts-only gathering with everyone munching on their favorite sweets.
If homemade elements are more your style, a fun thing to do in advance is to share a simple favorite recipe. Then encourage your guests to make it and taste it together over Zoom. You can do this with DIY dog treats, too, like those aforementioned turkey-cranberry meatballs, barista-style fall drinks for dogs and faux red velvet truffles.
Because the energy can be different over Zoom than it is in person, one way to keep your Friendsgiving feeling enjoyable and interactive is to plan an activity or two to do together. We love the idea of sharing a DIY dog treat recipe and then whipping it up together. Try your hand at those recipes above and then watch as everyone’s dogs gobble them up! You’ll have cute screenshots for days.
For a low-key Friendsgiving activity, you can also plan to watch a movie together from afar. Of course, we think a dog-themed movie is best, so consider having “Best in Show,” “101 Dalmatians” or “Lady and The Tramp” ready to play. Your group can chat throughout your watch party via apps like Teleparty.
No matter if you plan a CDC-compliant in-person gathering or meet over Zoom, with these Friendsgiving ideas, this year’s celebration is one we’re certain you and your pup won’t soon forget!