Friendsgiving, Similar to Thanksgiving, involves a celebration with a nice sit-down dinner. The difference? It’s a friends-only event. Usually scheduled for a Wednesday before or after Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving is a less-formal celebration where fun is always on the menu. With this in mind, feel free to get extra creative with your hostess gift.
- Candles that smell like the best parts of the season — pie!
- Bath bombs to help your friend unwind after hosting
- A set of quirky fridge magnets
- Fuzzy socks to keep your friend’s toes warm all winter
- A game to play after dinner
- A set of kitschy oven mitts
- A new yoga matt to encourage a healthy holiday season
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Slapping a catchy name onto an existing concept can, after all, make it seem trendy or suddenly ubiquitous, even if the thing itself has been around for decades (see: bromance or jorts). But one way to understand Friendsgiving’s recent popularity is as the expansion of the Thanksgiving holiday into something more like a Thanksgiving season.
University of Oregon professor emeritus who’s studied the nearly 400-year history of Thanksgiving, points out, holiday celebrations are always evolving. For example, “Halloween has really transformed a lot in the last generation or two. It’s completely different from what it used to be,” he says. Ever since the late 1980s or 1990s, “it’s almost as much an adult holiday as it is a kids’ holiday.” Plus, it’s not unheard of for certain holiday celebrations to sprawl into the surrounding days and weeks: Lots of friend groups have Christmas or winter holiday parties in the lead-up to whatever they might have planned with their families on the actual holidays. So do offices—which have also lately become common sites for Friendsgivings.
Natalie Sportelli, a 25-year-old content and brand manager in New York, has participated in weekday work-lunch Friendsgivings at both her current job and her last job. “Q4 is really stressful. Heading into Thanksgiving and then the rush to the end of the year, it’s a really nice stress reliever,” she says. “And it’s like a teaser for the main event.
The “friends” part of Friendsgiving is a somewhat novel element added to the Thanksgiving tradition.Thanksgiving has been considered a holiday to spend with familiar or, at the very least, its strong ties to family developed long before it became a federal holiday in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that made Thanksgiving a national holiday. But even before then, “people who were spread all over the country were encouraged to come home for Thanksgiving. ‘Home for Thanksgiving’ became a mantra.” Lithographs from around that time, he points out, often depict people traveling home for Thanksgiving.