Practice makes perfect. 

When I was growing up, my aunt and my mom would take turns on Tuesday nights making dinner for both families. My cousins, sisters, and I served as the expert(ly picky) panel of judges, scoring dishes as either “fly” or “hit the wall.” Those meals that earned “fly” would make an appearance on our supper circuit again. Those dishes that “hit the wall” were given an early retirement.

On the rare occasions that I’m now asked to bring a dish for a church gathering or potluck supper, I’m always sent into a total panic: What if I burn said dish beyond recognition? What if I give everyone food poisoning? What if my effortful attempt at culinary prowess is a total “hit the wall?”

That overwhelming cooking-induced anxiety only grows on those larger occasions (read: Thanksgiving), when “hit the wall” dishes simply will not fly.

Enter Friendsgiving.

Of all the unofficial holidays, Friendsgiving is one of my favorites. It’s an opportunity to gather together for fellowship and good eats with the family you’ve chosen. Sure, you can twirl up the table and make it a grand affair, but the reason I love Friendsgiving is that it’s an A+ opportunity to keep things laidback, casual, and stress-free.

Friendsgiving is the perfect time to brush up on your turkey-basting skills, add a little surprise bourbon to your tried-and-true pecan pie, or experiment with mashed potato mix-ins. Above all, it’s an ideal opportunity to try a new dish and get constructive feedback before you show up to the in-laws’ for Thanksgiving with a too-salty green bean casserole.

Plus, unlike your sweet grandmother, who’s never burned a biscuit in her life and has never, ever served a soupy pie, your friends, like you, are probably not culinary gods, and will just be thankful to have a full plate of homemade food in front of them. How’s that for some trademark Thanksgiving gratitude?

So go ahead, invite your peeps for a pre-Thanksgiving Friendsgiving dinner, make that new dish you’ve been dying to try, and take that all-important poll: “Fly, or hit the wall?”