10 Must-Know Tips For Friendsgiving

You know what they say: Friends who eat together, stay together. But, opting to stay put and throw your own crowd-pleasing potluck this Thanksgiving takes work — the supper certainly doesn’t put itself together!
So, in order to get your Friendsgiving in tip-top shape, we tapped the venerable peeps over at Bar Tartine — chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns — for their 10 ultimate tips for hosting a dinner with all your faves. From divvying up the menu to queuing up the perfect playlist, their advice will have you whipping up some mean grub (and compliments!) in no time.

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Photographed by Heather Talbert.
Tip 1: Go With One Head Chef
If there’s a rock-star cook in the mix or someone up for the task, that might be the best place to start.

“We think it's easiest for one household to cook everything so that the meal is balanced. We like to make a day of it — have friends all come over and cook together and enjoy the day. Snack as you go, nap when you want, and create a meal together.”
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Photographed by Marianne Rafter.
Step 2: Just Throw A Potluck
Of course, sometimes the most painless thing to do is have everyone cook and bring something.

“If you go the potluck route, the host should assign things such as salad, side, and pie so you don't end up with six multilayered Jell-O molds. But, in all seriousness, we think it's easiest for one household to cook everything so that the meal is balanced.”
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Photographed by Marianne Rafter.
Approach The Turkey Like You Would A Chicken
“If no one attending your holiday party has cooked a turkey before, don't be scared. Just treat it like a big chicken — most people have cooked one of those. For starters, make sure your turkey is thawed before you cook it. For a guaranteed moist turkey, brine it for 24 hours, and baste regularly. Pro tip: Don't go blindly into deep-fat frying your turkey — it's wildly dangerous! And, when in doubt, cook a crown roast instead.”
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Photographed by Lianna Tarantin.
Tip 4: Important Menu Must-Haves
“For a real Northern California feel, we like to start with dungeness crab and oysters. From there, if you're going traditional, the musts are sweet potatoes with no marshmallows, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, whipped potatoes, and turkey-fat gravy. We like an untraditional route serving Kapustnica — sauerkraut stew with smoked pork — which is a one-pot wonder!”
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Photographed by Aeschleah DeMartino.
Tip 5: Transporting Hot Food
"If you’ve been assigned to prepare a steaming entrée at home, the hardest part can involve just getting the dish to its dinner. “If you are transporting hot food, wrap it in a towel, or weave a basket for it.”
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
What To Assign If Your Friend Can’t Cook
“If you have a bad cook in your group, hone in on their strengths. Perhaps they shake great cocktails, make great bitters, or create amazing playlists. You can also suggest that your friend cut over to the Mission, grab flowers from Bi-Rite Market, and a few more treats and bread from Tartine Bakery or pre-order from Bar Tartine.”
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Tip 7: Consider Buying Everything
If the host isn’t up for cooking, consider purchasing a varied lineup.

“Smoked fish and sausages for appetizers, roasted veggies, salad, and stuffed quail with gravy for dinner and a mix match of pastries for dessert. You will have to warm a few things up, but no real cooking necessary!”

Sound good? Here’s how to find it all: “Head out to Little Russia in the Outer Richmond. Stop at Seakor Polish Delicatessen and Sausage Factory at Geary and 24th and stock up on sausages and poppy seed cakes. Next go to the New World Market at Geary and 21st and get pickled herring and smoked fish delights — by the register is a refrigerated case with baby cheesecakes imported from Russia, get one of every kind for your dessert spread. From there, trek over to Boulettes Larder at the Ferry Building and get a mix of beautifully roasted vegetables, some stock for gravy and a few stuffed quails.”
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Illustrated by Rockie Nolan.
Tip 8: Cocktail And Turkey Pairings
“A Negroni makes every party more festive! Play with the ratio — classic is one part gin, one part semi-sweet vermouth and one-part bitters. For a long event we like to begin with low ABV cocktails, so to mock the gin we infuse innocent fino sherry with juniper, bay, coriander, mint, lemon balm, orange peel, and sage."

"With the turkey, go with a crisp wine. Right now we love Scribe Sylvaner 'Ode to Emil No. 11', 2012. It's great with everything from the peanuts to the potatoes. And, if you’re looking for something deeper, find a bottle of Štoka, Teran Izbrani, Kras, Slovenia 2011; it’s bright and delicious!”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Tip 9: Easy On The Decor
“Keep it simple, set the table with handmade ceramics and cups that don't match, and let everyone just sit where they land. When we are on the hunt for new and different plateware we head off to Ruby’s Clay Ceramics in the Castro. At Ruby’s there are many local artists selling beautiful ceramics to line your shelves and your tables with. We really enjoy serving food on handmade dishes, it feels more natural to us. We like that no two pieces are the same — it helps the food stay organic and playful!”
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Photographed by Luhrs Heldrich.
Tip 10: Don't Forget The Jams
Silence can be deadly at any party. Plan ahead and pick some classics that everyone’s bound to like.

“Creedence Clearwater Revival always sets a good mood! Or if TV is a must, having The Christmas Story on in the background appeases the masses.”

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