What Is Friendsgiving? Guide to This Fun Holiday Tradition

Published September 6, 2022
Group of smiling friends enjoys food and conversation at Friendsgiving

Is spending Thanksgiving with your family a no-go this year? Just because you can't go home for the holiday doesn't mean you have to spend it alone. Friendsgiving blends friends and Thanksgiving for the perfect chance to enjoy the best of the holiday with a group of BFFs instead of - or in addition to - family.

What Is Friendsgiving?

What do you get when you spend Thanksgiving (or have a Thanksgiving-like meal sometime in November) with pals? Why, Friendsgiving, of course. This gathering beautifully blends besties and Thanksgiving when a group of friends gathers either around or on Thanksgiving for great food and a day of enjoyment and fun. Now that's something to truly be thankful for.

Friendsgiving's Origins

The idea of gathering with friends for Thanksgiving isn't new, but the name is new-ish. Even in decades past, people hosted Thanksgiving gatherings with friends - they just called it Thanksgiving. A classic episode of the sitcom Friends (1994 to 2004) was about the friends as family, spending their first Thanksgiving Day together, but there was no mention of Friendsgiving. Then, in 2020, a Netflix movie, Friendsgiving, showed the misadventures of friends unexpectantly coming together for Thanksgiving Day. Was that the origin? Definitely not because while Friendsgiving doesn't have a specific origin myth, people have been using the term for a while.

It's unclear exactly who first used the portmanteau Friendsgiving or when they did it. According to Merriam-Webster, the use of the word "Friendsgiving" started trending on Twitter in 2007. It became an official dictionary term in 2020. But the buzz for Friendsgiving really gained traction in around 2012 or 2013 with social media leading the way.

Three women drinking wine while preparing thanksgiving dinner at home

Why Did Friendsgiving Become So Popular?

According to The Atlantic, Friendsgiving is an evolution of Thanksgiving from a single day to a holiday season, with Millennials leading the charge. As time passes, cultures shift, and Friendsgiving is part of an overall cultural shift in North America. The shift came from a variety of factors, including newly-minted adults moved away from home to start a new life and career in urban centers while choosing to marry and start a family later (or opting out altogether). Today, many people view their friends as the most important relationships in their life, or at least as important as family, and they naturally want to spend holidays with their most valued people. Thus, Friendsgiving. It's an important gathering with significant loved ones--usually friends, but sometimes family as well.

When Is Friendsgiving Day?

There's no specific Friendsgiving date/day. Many choose to enjoy a Friendsgiving party either the weekend before or the weekend after Thanksgiving Day. But, the good news about emerging trends is there are no rules. You and your BFFs get to do what you want, so you can celebrate on Thanksgiving Day or any other time and call it Friendsgiving.

Who to Hang Out With on Friendsgiving

Who can you spend Friendsgiving with? Anyone you want, really. You can invite to Friendsgiving your friends, coworkers, neighbors, "holiday orphans," and all their plus ones. If that sounds like a little slice of Thanksgiving heaven to you, you're not alone. Many prefer Friendsgiving to Thanksgiving for oh-so-many reasons.

Three friends having food and drinks at home on occasion of thanksgiving
  • You may feel closer and more connected to friends than family.
  • The idea of Friendsgiving may seem less fraught with potential drama and awkward moments than a traditional family Thanksgiving.
  • You may not want to choose between friends and family and celebrate both Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving.
  • You may not have family to celebrate with, or you may choose not to spend time with them.
  • Your family may live too far away to make it feasible to travel for just a weekend.
  • It may be the one time per year you can get all your friend group together in one place.

How to Do Friendsgiving

More good news--there are no rules here. Just ideas. Friendsgiving is typically more casual than a traditional Thanksgiving, but if you want to host a super fancy Friendsgiving party with games and activities, nobody's going to judge. But most commonly, Friendsgiving is a communal feast where everybody chips in with some of the food. For example, the host may provide the main course, and the guests each bring their specialties. If you're hosting a Friendsgiving gathering, keep several things in mind.

Plan in Advance

Send out invites or texts to your friends early so they can clear their schedules. Ask for RSVPs, and check to see if the person is bringing someone so you'll know how many are coming. If you're planning the typical Friendsgiving potluck, this also gives your friends time to plan what they'll contribute to the meal.

Divvy Up Food Assignments

Knowing who's bringing what is essential so you won't have four dishes of mashed potatoes sitting on the table with no gravy. Plus, you don't want everyone who's not into cooking to bring a bottle of wine (or maybe you do). So, talk to your guests, give them assignments, and find out if any of your friends have dietary restrictions and preferences. Alternatively, create a shared doc or spreadsheet where everyone can sign up with what they'll bring.

Young woman having food while sitting at dining table during Friendsgiving

Be OK With a Non-Traditional Meal

You're among friends--go ahead and eat what you want. Nothing dictates what friends should eat at Friendsgiving. You don't have to have turkey; you can serve ham. If everyone's vegan, have them bring their favorite vegan dish. Explore other cultures by having friends bring something inspired by foods from around the world. The point of Friendsgiving is to have a fun and successful dinner with a diversity of friends.

Cater In or Eat Out

Not a cook? That doesn't mean you can't host or participate. Planning and cooking for Friendsgiving can be a lot of work. Fortunately, there are lots of options, from catering to dining out, so don't let your lack of culinary skill dampen your enthusiasm. And don't forget the Friendsgiving cocktails!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry With Friends

Friendsgiving is all about eating, drinking, and enjoying time with your friends. So, don't stress. Just pick out a fun Friendsgiving outfit and find a way to gather with your nearest and dearest and make your Friendsgiving gathering a day to remember.

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What Is Friendsgiving? Guide to This Fun Holiday Tradition