Skip to main content

6 Tips for Hosting Friendsgiving This Year

Friendsgiving is the special day when people (usually young, often single, frequently broke) gather together to celebrate the blessings of a “family” they’ve chosen for themselves before dutifully boarding airplanes to observe Thanksgiving with the “real” family.

thanksgiving dinner
Christiann Koepke

This “new” holiday is fast becoming just as important a cultural institution as the one that appears pre-printed in your calendar. Like traditional Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving was invented out of sentimental thin air rather than religious tradition and its roots are equally shrouded in mystery. (Did it really come about as a result of TV’s Friends? Is a Twitter hashtag responsible for its ascendance as a widespread movement? Is Bailey’s Irish Cream the Friendsgiving analog to the Thanksgiving turkey?)

These questions will continue to be debated long into the future, likely over many a Friendsgiving table. Studies show that more than half of all 18- to 34-year-olds intend to attend a Friendsgiving celebration in addition to a traditional Thanksgiving with family.

Friendsgiving is still a special time to share your sense of gratitude for the community you’ve built by choice, not by genetics.

It’s easy to understand why. If you celebrate ahead of the officially recognized holiday, Friendsgiving offers a great chance to strengthen your soul in preparation for the often trying ordeal of family gatherings. If you celebrate afterward, it allows you to decompress, restore, and recalibrate your sense of independent adulthood.

Even if your traditional Thanksgiving offers the rare combination of functional family dynamics and decent skills in the kitchen, Friendsgiving is still a special time to share your sense of gratitude for the community you’ve built by choice, not by genetics.

If you’ve never hosted Friendsgiving before, though, it can be hard to disconnect your party preparation from the pressure and obligations that too often accompany a family gathering. So here’s a handy cheat sheet for hosting a Friendsgiving party that guarantees good times, minimal stress, and all the warm fuzzies your heart can hold

Food Is the Secondary Focus

Look, if the point of Thanksgiving were just to eat great food, we’d all go out to a restaurant. The real objective is gratitude. And guess what doesn’t lead to gratitude? Laboring under a sense of obligation as the host. So, as you’re planning your Friendsgiving, don’t hesitate to start with what you really enjoy doing.

thanksgiving dinner place setting
Andrik Langfield

If cooking is your wheelhouse, then by all means, sit down and craft a Michelin star-worthy menu. (You might also want to take a stronger hand in which guests are assigned which dishes. You don’t want your chronically late friend in charge of appetizers or your gluten-free friend on stuffing duty.)

But maybe your real skill lies in crafting the experience (staging the food, decorating the table, curating a playlist). Or maybe you’re a magician when it comes to gathering people together and getting them to have fun. Lean into whatever aspect of party-planning you really enjoy and leave the rest to your other friends. And if there should be something nobody wants to take care of? Leave it alone.

Lean Into What You Like

One of the most tiresome Thanksgiving traditions is how every guest is compelled to kiss the host or chef’s ring. Never mind if they hate cooking, or is really bad at it. You’re going to eat what they put out and like it.

The joy of Friendsgiving is that there are no rules when it comes to food. The objective is that everybody brings the foods they love to cook, eat, and share. If that means three kinds of made-from-scratch dressing and takeout spring rolls, so be it.

Now, if you or one of your guests has an uncompromising standard for a certain item on the menu, that’s fine. But then that person has to take charge. If you’ve got a friend who is always finding fault with other people’s turkeys, guess who just got drafted to main-course duty?

But hell, there’s no rule saying you even have to have a turkey. If no one wants to put six hours into roasting a bird, screw it — grill some gorgeous salmon on a cedar plank, make a giant pot of vegetarian chili, or just pick up an order of buffalo wings. Make it your Friendsgiving mantra that no holiday dish is so important that it’s worth stressing out over.

Maintain a No-Obligation Guest List

Normal Thanksgiving brings about as much guilt-fueled guest list action as anyone needs in their life. Your party is known as “Friendsgiving” for a reason. That means no inviting people because you feel bad for them, or because they invited you to their last thing, or because you haven’t had time to hang out with them in a while. If you want them at your party, invite them. If you don’t, don’t. Limit your guest list to the small, manageable, and genuinely friendly.

friends dinner apps drinks
Kelsey Chance

This applies to guests of your guests, as well. While it can be controversial to place limits on your friends’ plus-ones, do it for the big-picture good of your party. If your buddy really needs his latest Tindr match by his side, he can throw his own Friendsgiving celebration.

Make It Easy on Yourself

It’s no small thing being a party host. As tired as you get of hearing your mom complain about how nobody appreciates all the work she puts into getting the family together … well, she’s got a point. So take note and do things to make Operation Party easier on yourself. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years:

  • Send around a Google spreadsheet that lets people sign up for different dishes, prep duties, and other party-associated tasks.
  • Remind people to bring their own tools for serving their dish. (If someone else is doing the turkey, they’d better come with their own electric carving knife.)
  • Don’t sweat the start time. Is it really that big a deal if the sweet potato casserole gets eaten before the appetizers show up? What matters is that everyone comes hungry and goes home satisfied.
  • If you want to limit the alcohol offerings (and the potential for party-pooping shenanigans), offer people who don’t want to cook the option of bringing a bottle of specific spirits for a specialty cocktail you’ll be serving. To make life even easier, mix up a big batch of said cocktail in a pitcher or punch bowl and call it a day.
  • Want to make dish duty a breeze? Tell everyone to bring their own plates and cutlery. It’s the best way to ensure that nobody (i.e., you) gets stuck with post-feast cleanup. Plus, it’s better on the environment.
  • Stock up on ice, aluminum foil, and stain remover. Trust us on that last one.
  • Get everybody to kick in $5-$10 for a cleaning service to tidy up your place the day after. After playing host, you deserve to enjoy a great brunch, a leisurely hike, a day in bed with Netflix — whatever continues the warm fuzzy feels for you.

Grease the Gratitude Wheels

Even if you didn’t grow up religious, the specter of awkward gratitude recitations looms over just about every family Thanksgiving table. For Friendsgiving, there’s an easy way around this: make gratitude a drinking game!

Here’s how: As people show up, have them write down three things they’re thankful for on a notecard and toss them in a hat. At dinner, pass the hat around and have each guest pull a card out. As each person reads the clues out loud, everyone else guesses who wrote the card. If the group guesses who the card belongs to on the first try, the owner of the card drinks. If no one guesses, the owner of the card chooses someone who drinks.

Have a Good Time

Never forget that the whole point of planning a party is that you have fun. Nothing kills the vibe of a party faster than a stressed-out host. The better time you’re having, the better time your guests will have.

Editors' Recommendations

Chelsea Batten
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chelsea Batten is a writer, photographer, and Kerouac groupie. One of the original digital nomads, she was seduced from life…
6 Holiday Card Ideas That You Can Pull Off Yourself
holiday card ideas funny

You can’t deny that the holiday season has arrived and soon your mailbox (physical or digital) may be filled with festive cards of friends and family celebrating their love. Surely when growing up you were forced to wear a white button-down under a nice sweater, perfectly coordinated with the rest of your family and because holiday cards have survived through the generations, your family holiday photo will be distributed to the masses. But now it’s time to take control of the matter. It’s time to produce your own holiday card and distribute it to the five or six friends and family whose physical addresses you actually have. Single, roommates, family, newborn, it doesn’t really matter anymore as the event of holiday cards has shifted a little more toward the PG-13 rating with playful banter finding its way into the hands of all those in your Rolodex.
All By Your Lonesome
First off, it’s okay to be alone around the holidays regardless of how many times your grandparents and parents ask, “When are you going to find someone?” The holiday card is an opportunity to stick it to all those who keep asking … in a very jolly way of course. Find ways to turn their criticism on them or present a different kind of partner with your pet, favorite food, or other obsession to emphasize the loneliness of the year. You can take a photo with a random family you pass walking down the street, one of yourself sitting at an empty bar or large dining table, or if you’ve got the time and dedication you can set up a whole montage of single-oriented images.

If you and your loved one have started a family, this is your dwindling chance to embarrass your kids. They can’t fight the holiday card and they can’t argue against it as long as you’re in charge. And years down the road when all the cards have been collected they’ll be gathering ideas to humiliate their own clan. The age of your kids will certainly lead you down different directions of photographed mischief. The younger they are, the less they have any idea of what’s going on and they should sit still for at least one photo or, if they are 100% against it with signs of murder tears, the photo may be way better than you could’ve ever imagined. And if you’re being roped back into an immediate family photo as an adult, now is the time to coerce the family into something spectacular. Assume the role of a set of characters from a favorite tv show or historical event, re-create the Christmas Story with the fishnetted leg lamp (who doesn't love Electric Sex?), choose the apparel and events of a summer holiday or if you’re all about the bold and beautiful, why not gather around the backyard barbecue with your finest stained denim? It may take some convincing to get mom on board, but rest assured that dad has been waiting for this opportunity for years.
Friends or Roommates
Once you leave the family nest to embark on life’s great journey the definition of family can be skewed a bit as your friend circles develop and living situations bring new roommates. More so, you may be spending the holidays with this new "framily" and why not show the world the weird love you all have developed for each other. Assume different roles of the typical family, become brothers and sisters for an iconic same onesie pajama photo around the tree or abuse your privileges of being an “adult” and take your card to fringing on Rated R. Realistically, who or why would anyone be mad at your initiative to spread festive joy around the world, and as others rifle through the stacks of cards from distant aunts, supposed friends that no one has heard from in decades, and the random neighbor, your card, well your and your friend’s card, will be a welcome oddball to add to the stack.

Read more
7 Ways to Give Back During the Holidays
give back holidays

Well, folks, we’ve officially arrived at the beginning of the Holiday Season™. Though widely regarded as the "mOsT wOnDeRfUl TiMe Of ThE yEaR," I personally find the stretch from Thanksgiving to the New Year incredibly stressful. Yes, I love wintry celebrations. Yes, I love spending time with my family. But something about the gift-giving-capitalistic frenzy of the season makes me want to bury my head in the sand ‘till January.

Since that’s not the most practical solution, I thought maybe I’d approach the season a little differently this year. Instead of stressing out about giving gifts, maybe I could find some creative ways to give back. This list is by no means definitive but should provide you with plenty of fodder to inspire your own charitable ambitions.
Give to Native Causes
One of the easiest ways to give back is by donating money to important causes. With a simple click, you can support organizations, fund initiatives, and get the word out about issues you care about. While you can (and should) funnel cash toward whatever group you want, I’d recommend giving back to a Native or Indigenous cause this holiday season. And not because of some loyalty to the Thanksgiving myth we’re sold from the crib, but in recognition of the systematic oppression still experienced by many indigenous communities in the United States. It’s a drop in a very large bucket, but one that at least acknowledges the major work we as a country need to do to support Native populations.

Read more
Spring cleaning time: How to organize (in 6 easy steps) and clean your closet like a pro
The ultimate guide to closet organization with expert tips
Man choosing clothes at his walk-in closet

Like personal finance or basic kitchen skills, organizing your closet isn’t something that gets taught anymore. Now is the perfect time to refresh your drawers and cabinets for a fresh new season. If you’re like most guys, your parents (i.e., your mom) did this for you while you were growing up, sneaking into your bedroom while you were out to collect your sh** from off the floor and put it back into your closet and drawers where it belonged.

Focusing on something you can control — the clutter in your closet — is a rare treat. Organizing your closet is an undeniably good use of free time, and it will make it easier to find items you're looking for.

Read more