A Millennial’s Guide To Friendsgiving
As millennials, we’ve been at the center of a fair number of heated debates.
Avocado toast that keeps us from buying homes. Refusing to answer the phone. Being obsessed with bottomless mimosa brunches. Needing validation on our social media posts.
And then in our defense, we talk about the difficulties we’ve had to endure, like recessions, an insane housing market, and Gen Z’s incredible dance moves.
The list goes on and on.
It seems almost natural, then, that a generation so attacked on so many sides would be drawn to one of the most controversial holidays: Thanksgiving.
The butt of drunk Uncle jokes, historical revisionism, and debates about sweet potatoes as a main course or a dessert, Thanksgiving is no stranger to conflict.
So, what happens when a generation that’s a lightning rod for debates and split opinions meets a holiday that’s the very same?
We get Friendsgiving, a (mostly) universally approved and delightful holiday pioneered by millennials that’s free of the stresses normally shouldered by both Thanksgiving and millennials.
As we come upon prime Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving party planning season, we want to help guide you to the best Friendsgiving possible - by helping you understand the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the official holiday and its friendlier counterpart.
10 Key Differences Between Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving
Friendsgiving Is About Friends - From the rise of Friendsgiving on Friends and the Atlantic decreeing that Friendsgiving took over millennial culture to Friendsgiving being called a ‘millennial tradition’, Friendsgiving has been featured and debated and celebrated. At the root of it all? Friendsgiving is a way to gather friends during the holiday. Whether it’s in addition to your family-sanctioned Thanksgiving Day plans or a way to gather up the friends who can’t travel for the official Turkey Day, Friendsgiving prioritizes those non-familial bonds in our life.
No Set Date - If there is one thing Thanksgiving has going for it, it’s consistency. Each year, we know it’s going to be the fourth Thursday of November. It’s marked in all the calendars. Plus, the government’s cool with us taking time off. Friendsgiving’s bane is the same as any old friend-centric event: you have to get everyone’s schedule to line up. As adult lives get more complicated and friends get kids of their own, that can be increasingly difficult, so planning ahead is important. The main rule of thumb to guide your planning? Try to host it at some point in November.
It’s A Potluck - Traditionally, the Thanksgiving meal takes place at a family member’s house and as host, they are involved with their fair share of the cooking, including the turkey (if it’s being cooked in the oven). While guests are (sometimes) welcome to contribute a side dish or a dessert, the lion’s share is done by the host’s family. With Friendsgiving, the expectation is that everyone contributes equally. While the event host may still handle the main protein, there is often a more equitable split for the rest of the dishes.
No Turkey Necessary - While Thanksgiving traditionalists might tear us up in the comments, a Friendsgiving isn’t focused on the reveal of the turkey or ham. Given the constraints in scheduling and budgets, a Friendsgiving could happen with a small group after work contributing all side dishes. Heck, even turkey breast could be an appropriate substitute.
It’s A Friendship, Not A Dictatorship - We don’t share the same obligations to our friends as we do our families. How does this affect Friendsgiving? You can ask friends to bring certain types of dishes or desserts, but you can’t demand it. You don’t wield the same power as Grandma demanding a homemade pumpkin pie (not store bought) or Mom firmly requesting three more bottles of sparkling apple cider. Friendsgiving, by its nature, is a more free-flowing affair.
Double Dipping - When you have one ringmaster for the Thanksgiving circus, you may find it easier to control the flow of dishes and desserts. By opening it up to friends, you may find that two people want to bring the same dish. After all, maybe that’s their specialty! With Friendsgivings, it’s okay to double dip. Enjoy having two sweet potato casseroles or two bread puddings. There are a thousand ways to make each dish, so let each person bring what they feel most confident making.
Guest Rule, Hosts Drool - In the world of regular Thanksgivings, the host can set more of the rules. They can pick how they want the turkey cooked, smoked, barbecued, or turducken’d. They can pick the alcohol they serve. They can pick the desserts they make. Their house, their rules. With a Friendsgiving, it’s important to be inclusive of all the people who are coming. Have some non-alcoholic drinks, some non-meat dishes, and make sure the whole group knows about any allergies ahead of time.
Cooking Is Optional - While it seems blasphemy to suggest arriving at a Thanksgiving-adjacent part and not having the house smelling of roast turkey, that isn’t the primary focus of Friendsgiving. If few or none of the group’s friends are cooks, or the host’s space doesn’t accommodate a big bird or big pots, the gathering is no less rewarding.
Spread The Leftover Wealth - Home cooks often talk about the day after Thanksgiving as more delicious than the day itself, referring to the abundance of leftovers (and, probably, the much lighter workload). For Friendsgiving gatherings, it’s common to apply the same potluck mentality to the leftovers as it is to the party. With disposable boxes, each guest can take home part of the party.
- A Potluck Of Traditions - When one family hosts Thanksgiving, you get to experience the traditions that family has kept alive for years and years. When you start going to a significant other’s Thanksgivings, you get to see another set of traditions. With Friendsgiving, anything goes. From everyone’s favorite family recipes and favorite drinking games to sharing what you’re thankful for, Friendsgiving is a great way to share in a tapestry of traditions.
Though millennials may get teased for their addiction to brunch and their interest in social media, give credit where credit is due: we did a pretty good job perfecting Friendsgiving.
Let us know below what your own Friendsgiving plans are for the season - and the dish you’ll be bringing!