Until recently, I didn’t know Friendsgiving was an actual term (it even has a definition in the urban dictionary) but I’ve participated in previous years without realizing it. If you’ve never heard of Friendsgiving, you might be wondering when and where this trend got started. The majority of people seem to think it’s linked to the popular 90s television sitcom Friends, which, as L.A. Times reporter Chris Erskine posits, “Millennials mistook for a documentary.”
However it got started, Millennials and young professionals are the most likely to participate in this kind of event, which is celebrated before, after, or in lieu of a traditional family Thanksgiving dinner. Some people don’t live near their families, having moved to a different city or state for a job opportunity. Other people suffer through an awkward, tense, or dramatic family meal and prefer to also have a celebration they can enjoy. Sadly, some people don’t get along well enough with their family to suffer through even one yearly meal together. And then there are the rest who simply want to enjoy the company of close friends in a no-pressure, non-traditional way.
Keys for Hosting in a Small Place
A few months back, we wrote an article about entertaining in small spaces. Many of these same tips apply when hosting a Friendsgiving dinner, but on a larger scale. For instance, using creative seating options, taking your table into the living room or onto the patio, and getting creative to maximize usable surfaces are especially important when space is limited. When it comes to Friendsgiving, you may need more serving dishes and platters than you would for a small dinner party, so instead of purchasing items you’ll only use a few times a year and have no place to store, ask if you can borrow these items from other friends or family.
Friendsgiving Host/Hostess Etiquette
One of the best things about Friendsgiving dinners is that there really aren’t many rules, but a few things will be expected of you if you’re hosting:
- Provide the turkey and gravy (or alternate main course).
This is an unspoken rule of any Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really not easy to transport a hot turkey! That and the gravy should be your main culinary contribution to the meal. If you feel like whipping up a few side dishes or desserts, you won’t be frowned on, but you’re not obligated to.
- Have plenty of water and ice.
If it’s your first Friendsgiving, you might be surprised at how much ice you go through, so be over-prepared. Sticking a bunch of hot bodies in a small space tends to make people thirstier than usual, especially if you’ve also got the heat cranked up to keep out the November chill.
- Coordinate the assignment of potluck items according to preference
Ask the people on your guest list what they’d like to contribute to the meal, but ultimately, it’s your decision. The goal is variety. It’s also best to assign snacks to people you can depend on to arrive early, since snacks are consumed first.
Additional Friendsgiving Tips
Don’t stress about the food!
Often, the idea of a Friendsgiving is to get away from traditional fare, especially since many career-focused young adults don’t know how to cook a turkey, or do much cooking at all, for that matter. Have some fun by cooking a turkey for the first time as a joint adventure to laugh through, or just skip the turkey and stick with potluck dishes and desserts. For that matter, it’s acceptable to order takeout chicken, wings, or pizza and go completely non-traditional. There’s no need to include green bean casserole if no one likes it, and it’s okay if there’s hardly anything green at all (although vegetables are easy to make and go well with any meal). Favorites tend to be potatoes of some kind, cornbread muffins, mac and cheese, and plenty of desserts. You can also cheat and make StoveTop stuffing (admittedly, it’s often better than homemade. Those people know what they’re doing!), purchase canned cranberry sauce, or bring home a bakery-made pie.
Think of new people to invite.
In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, think about anyone you know who is new the area, doesn’t have family to spend the day with, or might otherwise get a kick out of being invited to your party. A low-key dinner is just the atmosphere to meet new people and share your friendship with others.
Whether you’re celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving with family this year, or a nonconventional Friendsgiving with those who might as well be family, enjoy this time to feast, have fun, and be thankful.
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Shane Neuerburg