Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in age-old traditions, but if you want to create a new one, maybe it’s time to spice up more than the pumpkin pie. Put a spin on your Turkey Day festivities by hosting your first-ever Friendsgiving.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with friends in lieu of family has risen in popularity, especially with Millennials who live far away and don’t want to travel. Of course, you don’t have to choose between the two if you like the idea of both. Plan a family gathering on Thursday, and a Friendsgiving the weekend before or after. Make it a potluck and keep it simple — it’s the perfect way to count your blessings (and eat more pie) with those closest to you.
Ready to start a new tradition? Here are a few Friendsgiving ideas to make your party fun and festive.
If you’re new to hosting, check out our helpful guide on how to organize a small space for maximum entertaining, plus entertaining tips that will make you the hostess (or host!) with the mostess!
Idea #1: Have the host cook the turkey
That’s a tough thing to transport, and if that’s all he or she has to worry about (along with the gravy, most likely), that takes some pressure off. Everyone else can fill up the menu with breads, sides, and desserts.
Are you hosting this year? Check out our guide to rocking your first Thanksgiving — complete with turkey tips, recipes, and DIY table décor!
Idea #2: Serve a signature cocktail
As guests arrive, offer them a cocktail cocktail — something simple and seasonal. You can make an easy champagne and apple cider cocktail by filling a champagne flute two-thirds full of champagne or dry, sparkling wine and top with apple cider. Add pomegranate seeds for color. Of course, you can substitute with a nonalcoholic sparkling wine. It’s a nice way to toast to your new celebration.
Tip #3: Plan a turkey tailgate
Do you and your friends love football? In lieu of roasted turkey and mashed potatoes, opt for a casual spread of grilled turkey burgers, sweet potato fries, raw veggies, and your favorite pumpkin ale. Or do both and plan your turkey tailgate for the Friday after Thanksgiving — that’s a day full of football.
Tip #4: Register for a Turkey Trot
Photo by Rafal Olkis
Eat a traditional meal with your buddies, then fight your food comas by signing up for a Turkey Trot in your area; there are well over 300 races held around the country at Thanksgiving time. The races are typically five kilometers (though some are longer) and a healthy alternative to slumping on the couch after a feast.
Tip #5: Plan your celebration Peanuts-style
Add a fun theme to your day with an old classic and celebrate like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang. Serve appetizers in the form of the traditional Charlie Brown Thanksgiving food — buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and jellybeans. If you want to really get authentic, serve your meal on a Ping-Pong table. Then after dinner, head outside for (of course!) football kicking practice.
Tip #6: Plan an authentic menu
Did you know that most of today’s Thanksgiving foods weren’t eaten (way) back in the day? Make a new tradition out of an old one and party like it’s 1621.
In addition to turkey, you can include meats like venison, cod, and bass. On the side, serve sourdough bread (baked in a round pan rather than a loaf pan). Dice and stew pumpkin, then season with ginger, cinnamon, butter, and vinegar — but serve in a bowl, not a pastry shell.
A few other easy ideas to incorporate: Try serving up a locavore feast featuring all locally-sourced foods. Or get out of the kitchen and make reservations at a restaurant (your reservation doesn’t have to be for Thanksgiving Day). After the meal, host an evening of pie and coffee to extend your celebration and still keep preparations to a minimum.