Mandy Moore Dishes On Her Holiday Plans With Her New Fiancé

Photo: Courtesy of American Express.
Mandy Moore is the sort of celebrity who needs no introduction. The early-aughts pop sensation, who first captured hearts with her sugary-sweet lyrics (you know the ones), now dominates TV screens, starring in 2016's cult-favorite drama series following the lives of one lovingly quirky family from 1980s Pittsburgh to present day.
Moore, who has opened up about her own nontraditional family dynamic, is no stranger to the stresses that the holidays can bring — from managing to get every family member under one roof to, in this year's case, home renovations putting a hold on hosting plans. Hassles aside, the recently engaged actress is looking forward to spending her Friendsgiving with a throng of friends and family members — and really just whoever needs a place to go. (Anyone else hoping for a Pearson family reunion?)
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We caught up with the leading lady and American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card Member to chat about everything from her go-to Friendsgiving dish to spending the first holiday engaged to Dawes guitarist Taylor Goldsmith to why "being present" is by far the most important part of the holiday.
Spoiler alert: She's every bit as delightful as her on-screen persona (if not more).
Can you walk me through your typical Friendsgiving celebration? Do you usually like to host, or would you prefer to kind of relax and let someone else do the work?
"Well, I was really looking forward to hosting this year because I’m moving into a new home and getting married, and it just felt like this exciting new chapter, but unfortunately our house got a little delayed due to renovations, so we’ll be celebrating at my fiancé’s parents’ house. That’s typically what my Friendsgivings look like, though. Going to their house and celebrating the day with this big hodge-podge of people that aren’t going home for Thanksgiving — some of them my family and friends, some his family and friends. It usually ends up ballooning to around 40 people at a certain point in the afternoon."

I think the lack of formality of how we do Friendsgiving is so much fun because it’s sort of a giant potluck, and people come and go as they please.

That sounds like so much fun!
"Yeah, people trickle in and out, so it sort of just ends up becoming this fun free-for-all. There’s nothing formal about it, and everyone makes a contribution and brings a dish. The only thing I want to do differently this year is to take on co-hosting duties since I originally wanted to host, so I just want to be of assistance to my fiancé’s mom in any way I can. Well, I take that back — I don’t know if I want to be responsible for the turkey so much."
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On that note, do you have a go-to dish you usually call dibs on or anything that you’re excited to make this year?
"I’m not the most proficient in the kitchen, but I do make something every year. The past few years, I’ve made this super-easy Brussels sprout salad — with prosciutto, grape tomatoes, and this mustard balsamic vinegar dressing — which is light and refreshing but with a fun twist. I might do that again because it went over pretty well. I’m also gluten free and a few of my friends and family members are, too, so I want to make sure we have gluten-free pumpkin pie, gluten-free apple pie — all those good, classic Thanksgiving dishes."
Do you have any fun traditions that you carry out every year?
"My all-time favorite part of Thanksgiving is definitely later in the celebration when there’s that core group of people left — whether it’s family or close friends, those people you feel comfortable to be vulnerable around — and everyone goes around the group to share what they’re grateful for. I feel like it’s so special and very much speaks to the contagious spirit of the day, because everyone is speaking from the heart in a manner that they normally wouldn't. I’m just such a sucker for that sort of sentimental thing."
What do you think is the most important element for hosting an unforgettable Friendsgiving? The people, the music, the food — everything wrapped up in one?
"I think those are absolutely all key components to having a successful celebration, but I think really being present and enjoying the day. You know, trying to have some flexibility and not being too rigid, because that’s when you miss out on all of the fun. That’s totally something I have to remind myself because I’m very much a planner; I like everything to be organized and to fall in line with my expectations, but that doesn’t allow much room for spontaneity."
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I love that this is [mine and my fiancé's] first Thanksgiving as an engaged couple, so it’s giving us the opportunity to start our own traditions.

So true! What do you think is the best part of having a laid-back holiday, rather than something super scheduled?
"I think the lack of formality of how we do Friendsgiving is so much fun because it’s sort of a giant potluck, and people come and go as they please. You know, when people come later in the day, they bring more dishes, and maybe they're things we would’ve run out of at that point. So it’s like, 'Oh cool, there’s more stuffing!' I really love that unexpected element of the day."
What does Friendsgiving mean to you?
"I feel like Friendsgiving is really the best excuse to gather your nearest and dearest and just catch up while enjoying the merriment of the day. I think I’m most looking forward to the fact that both of my parents and their respective partners will be there, because it’s probably been about a decade since I’ve celebrated the holiday with both of my parents. So, them being there, as well as my fiancé, a bunch of our friends who aren’t going home for the holidays, and whoever else just decides, 'Hey I have nowhere else to go,' because we have a very open-door policy. I’m excited to share that with everybody."
I love that. Anything else you're especially excited for?
"It feels like there’s a special meaning and weight to this holiday that I haven’t experienced before, so I’m very much looking forward to it. I love that this is [mine and my fiancé's] first Thanksgiving as an engaged couple, so it’s giving us the opportunity to start our own traditions. I’m not quite sure what those may be yet, but who knows! Maybe we’ll just go with the surprises of the day and see if there’s something that we want to incorporate into our future holidays."
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