Friendsgiving is both a fad and a cultural measuring stick.
On the one hand, it started as a defiant way to sidestep the annual obligations of Thanksgiving—or at least to celebrate the holiday while off away from family.
On the other, Friendsgiving is here to stay because a generation of people (mostly millennials) have deemed their friends to be a new type of family—ones they actually have some control over.
Whether you’re replacing tradition or complementing it with friends this holiday season, here are some ideas for you to use to make your Friendsgiving epic.
1) Everyone Pitches In
Friendsgiving is not the responsibility of any one friend or couple. All of the friends need to do the giving.
That’s why having a potluck-style meal is a near-necessity for this type of event. While it makes sense for the host to make a turkey (and probably the accompanying gravy, too), everyone else should be responsible for stuffing, cranberry sauce, casseroles, drinks, plates, and those fancy cheesy mashed potato puffs.
It’s sort of an unspoken rule that the host shouldn’t be responsible for more than those two bigs things. Even if it isn’t for you, step up and proactively take things off of the host’s plate by enlisting all of your starving comrades to help out.
There are a number of ways to do this: have everyone post on a Facebook event page, create a Google Doc with a checklist of needed items, or just deal with a massive text thread. It’s really your call.
2) Don’t Just Eat
When you think Friendsgiving, you probably think food.
Sure, it’s a newish, funky kind of way to have food with your friends, but it’s still all about the food.
It doesn’t have to be, though.
Create your own traditions. Do whatever it is you and your friends love to do. It sounds crazy, but you could even eat and then go on a run together, if you’re into that sort of thing.
(Some of you just scowled at the screen, but others felt a flutter of exciting possibility. Don’t lie: you know it’s true.)
Alternatively, you could hold a cornhole tournament, play some good ‘ol backyard football, or run an epic ThanksTriviaganza. The world is your gravy-filled oyster.
3) Give Out Personalized Gifts
If you want to be the best best friend every (and who doesn’t?), sneak up on everyone by arriving with personally tailored gifts for everyone.
These don’t need to be overly expensive. They should just show that you actually pay attention to everyone at the party—that each of them is truly a friend. They should demonstrate that you know them pretty well and are in a great position to give them something that is uniquely special.
Not saying you should do it to get anything back, but I guarantee that if you do it, others will incorporate something similar into the tradition moving forward.
4) Only Invite Your Friends
It might sound obvious, but Friendsgiving is for your friends. The whole thing originated as a push-back to the obligatory family celebrations of Thanksgiving, with people choosing to instead spend time eating and laughing with their favorite people on the planet.
Those are usually your friends.
If you know a lot of people, or if you run in a bunch of different circles, you might feel obligated to invite a crowd over to your Friendsgiving event. But you’d be doing the exact opposite of what Friendsgiving is all about.
Keep the group small and definitely close-knit. These are the people who share some of the most intimate parts of your life, and you should be able to celebrate them unreservedly, which you might not feel the freedom to do if there is a smattering of acquaintances present.
5) It’s OK for Friendsgiving to Be the Anti-Thanksgiving
Veer away from the typical, formal, and sometimes downright cold, Thanksgiving meal events. Have fun, play games, blast some music . . . even dance if you want to.
You might have stuffing at the party, but it doesn’t need to be stuffy.
6) If You’re Not Hosting, Thank the Host
The host rocks. The host is king or queen. The host is willingly putting themselves in a position to clean your mess after you’re gone.
That deserves some thanks.
If you’re adhering to Idea #3 on this list, make the host’s gift extra-special. If not, bring them something that lets them know they’re a rock star.
It could be their favorite dessert or drink, a gift card, or a book they’ve been wanting to read.
Or money. Money is always good.
7) You Don’t Have to Do Turkey (Gasp!!)
I know, I know, I know. But it’s true.
No anvil will fall on your head if you choose to grill barbecue or have a taco fiesta on Friendsgiving day, I promise. (If it does, you just live way too close to anvils, and that’s on you, not us.)
This doesn’t mean you should do away with traditional fare just for the sake of being defiant. You should take the temperature of everyone involved and make sure they’re all good with going off course.
But if they are, it’s OK to give yourself permission to ditch the bird. The bird won’t haunt you. I think.
8) Be Aware of Diet and Allergy Restrictions
Be kind and don’t just push through, making whatever you want without regard to special restrictions in your group.
If there needs to be some vegan options, step up and be the one to deliver. If you have friends with food allergies, do your best to avoid making dishes with the culprit inside—or at least make it very clear what is in every dish.
9) DO NOT PUT A CAP ON THE NUMBER OF DESSERTS ALLOWED
If anyone tries to, kick them out.
I’m just kidding . . . maybe.
10) Remember What It’s All About
Friends are the family you can actually choose.
The whole tradition started because of a desire for joy: we want to enjoy every minute we can in our lives, which means spending more time with people we choose every day.
That’s a gift worth being thankful for.
By: Ryan Drawdy
November 20, 2017