Ladies and gentlemen, make no bones about it: we are officially in what my family (read as: me) call “Eating Season.” Eating Season kicks off with Halloween and ends with the Super Bowl. I have heard some believe New Year’s marks the final end to the grand tightening of the waistbands, but how could they so blindly ignore the beaniest-cheesiest-guacamoliest day of the year? (And yes, I made guacamole into a superlative. There are no rules in Eating Season!)
Recently it seems like the tiny plateau in Eating Season from Halloween to Thanksgiving has increasingly been filled (thank goodness!) with a second Thanksgiving dinner affectionately known as Friendsgiving. Friendsgiving celebrates many things: perhaps not having family in town or nearby, friends being the “family you choose” (please excuse the trite turn of phrase) and general fun friend times.
If you decide to do a Friendsgiving, here are a few ideas to perhaps spice (See what I did there? Because of all the food? Spice? Eating Season also affords a few extra mom jokes, apparently) things up a bit.
Go outside the food box
If you are participating in Friendsgiving outside the parameters of your “normal” Thanksgiving Day, perhaps make Friendsgiving a day to enjoy a bunch of non-turkey-non-stuffing-non-cranberry-ish foods. Consider ordering takeout Asian cuisine if that is not in your regular Thanksgiving rotation. Last year we had Friendsgiving and ordered an immense amount of Indian food. Your palates might thank you for the change in pace and if you’re hosting, the cleanup and stress is minimal, allowing you to truly enjoy each other’s companies.
Play games (all sorts)
(We may be watching too much “Mary Poppins” lately with that heading. I’d say I’m sorry, but in the spirit of Friendsgiving and Eating Season I simply cannot tell a lie.)
One of the best parts about Friendsgiving is that it generally brings people around the same age ranges and interests together. This can translate to a great game night, because while games are fun at all ages, you might not get to play Exploding Kittens with your grandparents at your “proper” Thanksgiving. Ask guests to bring a favorite board game along with their bottle(s) of wine and set up a bunch of different stations for various age ranges, including some for all ages.
Perhaps go with a tournament style of one game like Scrabble if there are enough older kids and adults with an interest.
Board games not your thing? Perhaps get some people out of the house for soccer, football, tag or general pre-food-coma movement at the park. No matter what, games tend to bring people together and inspire laughs, which is what Friendsgiving is all about (other than the food, of course).
Institute a no-screen policy … and enforce it
It’s no secret that screens and social interaction are almost dire enemies, but actually doing something about it seems to be where we stumble. Perhaps institute a “swear jar”-esque rule: for every time you look at a phone (that isn’t recipe-related or only to take a picture) you have to put in a dollar to the jar. At the end of the evening the money collected can be donated to a local food bank or other such good cause. If nobody carries cash, have everyone mark their arms or a book and then promise to donate afterward.
Want to get everyone involved? Let the kids at Friendsgiving be the “screen guards,” either by writing up “tickets” to offending grownups or by allowing them to make the marks for each person and tally them up at the end.
This idea can be configured many different ways, all in good fun. Perhaps institute a no-politics policy (can we make that one last for life, please?) instead of screens. Instead of money, maybe make the “punishment” pushups or jumping jacks. The point is to have fun and also still bring people together. In the end you–and everyone else addicted to their screens–will appreciate the breather.
No matter what you and your friend group choose to do for Friendsgiving, just try to remember: this isn’t about who can throw the most Pinterest-perfect time. Friendsgiving is about having a good time and enjoying some laughs with some people who love you enough to willingly spend time with you the rest of the year. So whether it’s over turkey or tacos (or turkey tacos?! Did I just create a Friendsgiving revolution?), hoist a glass or three to the best time of the year and enjoy the heck out of all that is Friendsgiving.