As Thanksgiving fast approaches, Americans are in the midst of writing their menus and buying the ingredients for their lavish feasts. And although it’s a day filled with food and family, there is another popular tradition that’s held around the holiday: Friendsgiving.
Every year, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month, with the holiday falling on 23 November this year. While it’s often viewed as a day for Americans to express what they’re grateful for, that doesn’t mean that everyone will celebrate. More specifically, the event has been viewed as deeply controversial over the years, due to the contentious history of the first Thanksgiving celebration in the 17th century.
The holiday has been linked to instances of cultural appropriation, with some Americans believing that its history is frequently white-washed, prompting them to condemn or ignore Thanksgiving as a whole.
However, the holiday itself has inspired another tradition of Friendsgiving – which can be held before, during, or even after the 23rd of November this year. The activity typically consists of a celebration with close pals since some Americans don’t have the opportunity to return home for the holidays.
Over the years, people have celebrated Friendsgiving in a similar vein as Thanksgiving, with everyone sitting around the table for one big feast. It’s also often done in a potluck style, with each guest bringing their own dish to contribute. However, you don’t need to have a big meal to celebrate your Friendsgiving, as there are many ways to change up your usual plans this year.
Here’s a list of activities that you could do for Friendsgiving that aren’t the typical sit-down dinner.
Shopping at local holiday markets
While Christmas is still over a month away, many cities in the US already have their holiday-themed markets up and running. And since Friendsgiving isn’t necessarily held on the Thanksgiving holiday, why not use it as an opportunity to check out some new shops?
For example, in New York City, Bank of America is currently hosting its annual Winter Village at Bryant Park in Manhattan. At the beloved New York City spot, there’s a wide variety of food vendors, so you and your friends can take your pick at what you want for dinner and dessert. In addition, vendors are also selling a range of goodies – from ornaments to jewellery to scarves – which is the perfect chance to do some early holiday shopping.
Hosting a movie marathon
Instead of hosting a big dinner, you could opt for another budget-friendly activity at your home: hosting a movie marathon. With the help of your friends, you can make a list of any horror, romance, or comedy movies that you want to watch for the day. You could also top off the activity off by supplying an assortment of snacks for your pals, or by cooking a meal all together.
Your movie options can also match the theme of Thanksgiving, with films like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), Toy Story (1995), Addams Family Values (1993) and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973). If you want, you could add some Christmas movies to the mix, including Elf (2003), It’s A Wonderful Life (1947) and Steel Magnolias (1989).
Depending on the weather outside, your plans for Friendsgiving could consist of going on a hike. Whether it’s at your local park or a trail that’s an hour or so away from you, hiking is the perfect daytime activity for you and your friend group – no matter how big or small.
Decorating or baking sweets
Decorating or baking some sweet treats is another easy indoor activity. Whether you make a pie from scratch or simply frost your ready-bake sugar cookies, it’s something interactive for you and your pals to do together.
You can also opt for treats that are on theme with the fall and winter seasons, from baking an apple crisp to decorating gingerbread cookies.
Running a Turkey trot
Whether it’s before, during, or after Thanksgiving Day, many cities in America host an annual Turkey Trot run. The length of the race can vary, with options ranging from a 5K to a half marathon, so you and your pals can take your pick at what you’d prefer.
For example, in New York City this year, one Turkey Trot is being held at the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. During the race, which takes place on 25 November, participants will be running for the Rolling Thunder organsiation, which is a non-profit “for mainstream athletes who are developmentally disabled or have other special needs”.
At-home wine tasting
Typically, a night out at the bars with your friends can get a bit expensive, depending on which spots you go to. In a similar vein, a trip to a winery can rack up a hefty bill, and it’s not the most enjoyable activity when it’s cold outside. With that in mind, your Friendsgiving plans could consist of hhosting your own at-home wine tasting.
For the occasion, everyone can bring a different type of wine – from red to white – and give a few sips from each bottle a shot. If you’re someone who’s a big fan of wine, you could even end up discovering a brand that becomes your new favourite drink. When hosting the activity, you could make your own charcuterie board – filled with different meats and cheeses – to pair with wine.
Playing a football game
If your friends have a fun, competitive side, you can take part in another outdoor activity. You and your friend group can host the event in any big outdoor space you’d like, whether it’s a local park or your pal’s backyard.
In addition, football meets the typical theme of Thanksgiving, as a beloved tradition on the actual holiday is to watch a sports game with the family.
Hosting an early holiday gift exchange
Who’s to say that you can’t give your gifts to your friends a bit early this season? While the winter holidays are still weeks away, you could use your Friendsgiving to host your annual gift exchanges.
For example, many friend groups in the US have opted for the budget-friendly activity of Secret Santa, where each person is randomly assigned someone to give a gift to. During the exchange, you then reveal to your pal that you’re their “secret Santa,” before giving them their present.