Fun ideas for Friendsgiving

How to make memories with the family you choose.

As Thanksgiving rolls around, some of us may be celebrating with family or the family we choose: enter Friendsgiving, where you celebrate what you’re grateful for with your friends.

We asked around for some tips to have a great Friendsgiving celebration, and here’s what we found.

“The value in celebrating friendship, to me, is immeasurable,” says Jen Beaver, founder of event company Friendsgiving, LLC in Tennessee. “Kids – and adults – are spending more time on their phones and less time with one another in real life. We should always take time to put the phones down and be together.”

Beaver was inspired to create her company after witnessing the power of friendship in her own life. After suffering a major accident that gave her a less than 10-per-cent chance of survival, she says the family and friends who were by her side are what got her through the most difficult time in her life.
 

Tips for success
 

Beaver’s tips for getting your Friendsgiving gathering off without a hitch include:

  • Work together to set up the party – get everybody involved.
  • Music – ask your friends to each submit five songs for the Friendsgiving playlist.
  • Games – “Every great gathering with friends lends the perfect opportunity to play games that help you really get to know your friends better and spark great post-dinner conversation,” says Beaver.

Michelle Platt, creator of the blog My Purse Strings, says she’s been celebrating Friendsgiving for about five years with her closest friends. Her tips for a great event include:

  • Schedule early – months in advance even.
  • If you're also celebrating Thanksgiving with your family, it might be an idea to plan your Friendsgiving event before the Thanksgiving holiday. “Afterward, everyone becomes busy with holiday parties and it’s impossible to settle on a date.”
  • Keep the group tight. “Don’t feel like you need to invite everyone,” she says. “Just include those friends who really feel like family to you.”

 

What to do


Potluck

This is a classic and easy way to have a great Friendsgiving. “Have everyone bring their favourite dish,” says Platt. “We don’t do traditional Thanksgiving meals. We have lots of appetizers, a couple of entrees and lots of side dishes.”

Bust a move

Jen Ngozi, founder of NetWerk, a women’s networking and dance fitness company, suggests grabbing your dance shoes and heading out for a pre-meal dance fitness workout. “This could help reduce the common guilt of overeating, improve fitness and the overall holiday bonding experience for those away from home,” she says. 

Capture the moment

Platt suggests taking a group photo in the same spot every year. “It’s fun to see how much changes over the years – new babies, new couples, etc.”
 

Food ideas 
 

Beaver says one of the biggest tricks to keep the holidays healthy and fun is moderation. “I like to always have a lot of veggie options for pre-meal snacks. Veggies are loaded with water and fill you up. That helps you stay full so you don’t overindulge.”

She also suggests these menu items:

Charcuterie board – “The ultimate charcuterie board is my go-to favourite,” says Beaver. “I like to use giant cutting wood boards to display my favourites and pack it with a lot of colour. I always try to fill up on as many veggies, proteins and nuts as possible. Add fruit like grapes and colourful pomegranates and items like olives or dried fruits for both flavour and texture.”

Brussels sprouts – A classic Thanksgiving menu item, Beaver recommends using avocado oil and keeping the sprouts in the oven so they stay crunchy.

Soup – Beaver says soup is a perfect fall menu item – and it’s something you can pack full of veggies, too.

Cauliflower – Beaver suggests trying roasted cauliflower as an alternative to potatoes to keep more veggies on your Friendsgiving plate.
 

Making your own traditions
 

It might be intimidating to think about creating your own traditions, but just relax and allow things to happen. You might find some traditions just happen organically, and you can actively create other traditions that feel right to you and your friend group.

“Find what your friends like to do when planning/hosting a dinner and try to implement those things into your traditions,” says Beaver. “One of my friends loves to arrange flowers, so our tradition became Shannon always [handles] the flowers. Ryan was always the best at carving the turkey, so each year he played “Dad” and did the honour[s]. Ask your friends to participate in the aspects of your holiday and soon you’ll realize traditions start with you and can be a fun way to keep the holiday easy each year!”