Thank You for Being a Friend

By: Karen Dybis | November 29, 2019
Thanksgiving Leftovers

Photo Courtesy of Ackroyd's Bakery.

You’ve survived Thanksgiving Day with family – what do you do next? The latest trend in entertaining is Friendsgiving, and there are a lot of solid reasons why you should adopt this tradition as well as prepare a special meal for the friends you think of as family. 

A great Friendsgiving includes a few key elements: Some Thanksgiving-themed dishes to serve, some kid-friendly activities, lots of beverages for everyone who shows up and a few decorations to highlight how special the event is to you and yours. Ideally, everything can be done with limited expense and with a few special purchases. 

Megan Ackroyd of Ackroyd’s Bakery in Redford says Friendsgiving is a fun and festive way to honor the holiday with people you aren’t necessarily related to by blood. She suggests you bring a few items with you for the host, such as some classic shortbread or a fun Ackroyd’s fruitcake, as a gift to say thanks for them opening up their home.

“We have a wide variety of imported groceries from the UK – so you could bring things for a tasting,” Ackroyd suggested. “We have candies, chocolates and crisps or chips in a lot of fun flavors, so that would be a talking point for a gathering as well. For example, we have prawn cocktail flavored crisps or a whiskey and haggis crisp.”

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According to lore, Friendsgiving got started around 2007 when people started talking about having a separate holiday gathering that involved only friends rather than family. The event, which typically was informal and involved a meal or some kind of potluck food, occurred either a few weeks before Thanksgiving or in the days immediately afterward to take advantage of all the leftovers from the formal holiday meal. 

One theory holds that the term came about because of the beloved NBC television show, “Friends.” Yearly episodes brought the six main characters together for a turkey dinner, noting that they would rather be together than with their dysfunctional families. Another suggestion is that it became commonly used after Bailey’s Irish Cream used the word in one of its ad campaigns. 

Soon, magazines and television shows talked about how to put together an event like this – where friends, co-workers, neighbors or people who described themselves as “holiday orphans” would come together to celebrate the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas or New Year’s Day together. 

Here are some suggestions on how to organize a rad Friendsgiving event:

While most people are lax about the rules, there are some traditions that have sprung up around Friendsgiving. For example, the host is supposed to make the main dish or the turkey, according to one BuzzFeed post. People who are invited are supposed to bring the rest of the dishes, which the host coordinates to make sure there are vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free options available. Everyone is supposed to bring wine or some kind of alcohol along with whatever else they’re bringing. 

As for decorations, most Friendsgiving experts say you can keep it simple. You don’t have to put up a big inflatable turkey in your front yard unless you really want to do that. But try to have a festive tablecloth, a place setting for each person and a variety of drink options for people who may not consume alcohol or are avoiding sugar. 

According to the Farm Bureau, people across the United States spend about $50 or about $5 per person on a Thanksgiving Day meal, so the host of the Friendsgiving event may want to suggest a similar cost per person for their gathering. 

Some suggestions for the rest of the shopping list includes stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities enough to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Most of the time, the meal is served in a buffet style so no one person feels like they have to carry the weight of the meal or its prep. Everyone should pitch in to help clean up the meal when it is done as well. 

Finally, prepare some new traditions that will make Friendsgiving special. For example, everyone could write down what they’re thankful for on a slip of paper, which are then all thrown into a container and each person must read one out loud. You can then guess who wrote that particular note.