Friends & Family

Feeling Grateful: Ideas for Hosting the Best Friendsgiving

written by BRETT NICOLE HAYDEN

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Friendsgiving ideas"
Friendsgiving ideas
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

Recently, I was indulging in my 1,000th rewatch of Friends when one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes came on—“The One With the Rumor” with a Brad Pitt cameo, of course. It got me thinking about how nice it is that they all get together to celebrate the holiday. Naturally, something always goes awry—turkeys get stuck on heads, someone has to spend the day in a box, or someone kisses their ex-boyfriend’s son. Still, at the heart of each episode is a group of people who cherish their time with one another.

That’s what I believe to be so special about the Friendsgiving tradition that’s made a name for itself in recent years. While I’m still a sucker for getting together with extended family this time of year, the thought of spending some intentional time with my chosen family seems like a no brainer. 

If the concept of Friendsgiving is new to you, here’s a little explainer. Essentially, it’s your typical Thanksgiving celebration—but with friends instead of family. While some people celebrate Friendsgiving in lieu of their family Thanksgiving celebration, others plan a separate Friendsgiving party in November while still spending their Thanksgiving with family. Whether this is your first time hearing about the tradition, or you’re just looking to up your hosting game this year, look no further. Here are some great ideas for hosting the best Friendsgiving celebration.

Why Host a Friendsgiving?

As busy parents, we already have a lot on our plates. Adding another task on our to-do list—especially one as extensive as hosting can be—can seem daunting. But the truth is, time spent with good friends can be some of the most energizing and revitalizing time well spent. Making new memories with people who put a smile on our face has the power to fill up our cups, even if we’ve been running on empty lately. 

Once you get into planning the event, it’ll quickly become easy to differentiate the must-have’s and the must-do’s with the things we can forgo. Hopefully this makes the planning process easier and the ultimate gathering more enjoyable. Let’s get into the ins and outs of planning a Friendsgiving celebration.

Friendsgiving
Source: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

Friendsgiving Theme Ideas

Traditional

Right off the bat we’ll start with the most straightforward option. Thanksgiving practically is a theme in and of itself. Go the traditional route by opting for a classic Thanksgiving menu, gathering around the table, and simply dressing up for the holiday.

Cultural Celebration

Think outside of the stuffing box and do things a little differently in a way that honors all of the unique qualities of your friend group. For this theme, go potluck style and have all of the guests bring a dish that highlights their cultural heritage or a family dish they enjoyed in their childhood. The best part about this theme is that you get the opportunity to learn something about your friends that you may have not known before.

Game Night

Whether you go all out with a game of football in the park Friends-style, or opt for some fun card and board games, you’re in for a fun night of friendly competition. This theme is the best of both worlds because it can be a fun adult game night or a great opportunity to get everyone’s kids involved as well. Pick teams and one game and have a tournament, or spend the night playing your way through each person’s favorite.

Pajama Party

While family Thanksgiving celebrations may be more formal, there’s no opinionated aunt at Friendsgiving saying you can’t lounge around in your PJs all day. In fact, a pajama party might just be what our nostalgic hearts are needing this time of year. Instead of a fancy dinner, have all of the guests arrive in their favorite festive pajamas (and yes, they do sell Thanksgiving pajamas) and serve comfort foods galore—think Mac ‘n cheese, pizza, and plenty of snack foods.

Dress Like Your Spouse Party

For a theme that will conjure up tons of belly laughs, look no further than a dress like a person you’re also thankful for—your significant other. Perfect for a friend group with lots of couples, everyone will arrive in an outfit their significant other would typically wear. Be sure to have your phone on record as everyone arrives, as this is something you’re going to want to capture.

Friendsgiving Streaming Party

If you and your friends have bonded over a shared obsession with a certain TV show or two, this theme’s for you. With this one, everyone’s going to arrive ready for a night cozied up on the couch with comfort food. Before the gathering, either create or hunt down a list of every Thanksgiving episode of your favorite TV shows. Think the several episodes from Friends, as well as shows like Gilmore Girls, New Girl, Gossip Girl, and all the other -Girls. Have them ready to stream together with some beverages of choice to feel all of the festive feels.

Giving Back

While we’re all feeling grateful for the things we have in life, we’re also given an opportunity to give to those in need. For this celebration, we can pick a cause and have all of the attendees bring something to the donate to that charity. Some ideas could be to bring pet supplies for an animal shelter, canned goods for a food pantry, diapers for a diaper bank, or household items and toiletries for a local family shelter. As the host, you can collect the donations and drop them off at the chosen charity. We know everyone will feel even more festive knowing they’re positively impacting the lives of others.

Decorating for the Occasion

friendsgiving
Source: Alaina Kaz

One of the most exciting parts about hosting an event is setting up your space for guests. This often includes fun, seasonal decor to set the mood and get everyone in the spirit. Whether you go with a theme and pick decor that fits, or go a more “traditional Thanksgiving” route, Thanksgiving tablescapes and decorations will have everyone ready for a great night the second they walk in the door.

Friendsgiving napkins
Etsy | Sparkle and Sparrow
Friendsgiving Cocktail Napkins
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thanksgiving place cards
Etsy | Love More by Elzaan
Thanksgiving Place Cards
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thanksgiving garland
Etsy | Nivas Collection
Pumpkin Pie Garland
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friendsgiving
Target
Friendsgiving Banner
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Friendsgiving Games and Activities

The types of games or activities you include will be based largely on the guest list. You’ll have different options if kids are involved than if it’s just the adults. Likewise, you may play more get-to-know-you games with new friends than those who you’ve known for years.

And don’t forget the seasonal classic of going around the room and sharing one thing everyone is thankful for. It’s what we’re gathered together for, after all!

Friendsgiving Games for Everybody

friendsgiving games
Amazon
Scattergories

Time to get creative! In this team game, players will race against the clock to come up with the most creative answers in the given category. Be sure to not repeat any answers anyone else has already used!

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friendsgiving games
Amazon
What Do You Meme? Family Addition

We all know, love, and can’t get enough of the memes that circulate social media. This game lets us come up with the hilarious captions that accompany our favorite memes—in a family friendly way! Whoever’s turn it is gets to pick their favorite answers. The player with the most captions selected at the end of the game is the winner.

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friendsgiving games
Amazon
Monikers

Players will break up into teams and play three rounds to guess the name on the card their team member has drawn. In the first round, the player who drew can say anything but the name itself to explain who it is. In the second round, they can only use one word. Lastly, they have to act it out. The team with the most correct guesses wins. And trust us, seeing your friend act out Miss Piggy is as hilarious as it sounds.

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friendsgiving games
Amazon
Kids Against Maturity

Like Cards Against Humanity, but kid-friendly. This game includes 600 questions and fill-in-the-blank answer cards for a whole night of fun.

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friendsgiving
Etsy | JB MOMS DESIGNS
Friendsgiving 25-Game Printable Bundle

With 25 printable games to choose from, you’ll find the perfect Thanksgiving-themed options for your gathering.

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friendsgiving
Etsy | File Print Boutique
Friendsgiving Printable Games Bundle

Friend trivia, Who is Most Likely, and more printable games are sure to get the memories—and the laughs— going with this set of 11 printable Friendsgiving games.

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Friendsgiving Games for Adults

friendsgiving games
Amazon
Cards Against Humanity: Everything Box (300-Card Expansion Pack)

After you’ve played the original game several times, treat yourself to some fresh new cards to play with with this expansion pack. The rules are simple: each round, one player picks a black card and reads the question on it. The other players put down their funniest white card and the drawer of the black card picks their favorite to determine the winner of that round.

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friendsgiving games
Amazon
For the Girls

While everyone is invited to game night, this game was invented specifically with the girlies in mind. With simple rules but juicy cards, this game is made for a game night to remember. Simply roll the dice, pick a card from the pile of that color and do what it says!

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friendsgiving games
Amazon
Bad Choices

Get ready to laugh about all of the bad decisions your friends have made over the years and get to know each other a lot better. Each player will have six cards. When it’s your turn, you’ll pick one of your six cards and hand it to the player you think is most likely to answer “yes.” If it’s an affirmative answer, you get to discard, otherwise you keep it to use again later.

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hunt a killer
Hunt A Killer
Murder Mystery Subscription Game

Play detective and solve the case with clues that get sent to you in the mail regularly. This is a perfect option for groups who like to get together frequently. This is the classic, but the series has come out with tons of other creative murder mystery games you won’t want to miss.

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Putting Together the Perfect Friendsgiving Menu

What you serve at your Friendsgiving celebration will depend on a few things. Will you incorporate a theme, or keep things traditional? As the host, do you want to take care of a majority of the menu, or would potluck style work better for your friend group? Do you have the space to cook, or would takeout be worth considering? Should you consider putting together a specialty cocktail? All these questions and more will likely come up in the planning process, but they don’t need to be stressful decisions. Here are a few things to consider.

Friendsgiving Food Ideas

If incorporating a theme into the evening sounds fun, we say serving food that goes with the theme is the way to go. Not only is it unique, but it will get everyone in the spirit of the gathering. Sometimes it can be really nice to treat the people you care about by putting together a special evening for them. On the other hand, hosting can get expensive. Hosting a Friendsgiving potluck is a great option to split up the cost and make everyone feel included in the preparation.

Taking into consideration the amount of prepping, cooking, and serving space you have may factor into what you’re capable of when it comes to hosting Friendsgiving. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that baking a 19 pound turkey isn’t the most logical option, and certainly nothing wrong with grabbing some takeout instead. Whether that be everyone’s favorite carryout spot, or something fancier like a charcuterie board from local company, there’s no wrong answer.

It’s always good to put together a budget for yourself in the planning process, get a head count of how many people you’ll be serving, and take into consideration any dietary restrictions guests may have. An efficient way to do the latter is to include a space on the invitation for guests to write in any allergies, preferences, etc.

Source: Our Salty Kitchen

Creative Drink Ideas for a Friendsgiving Celebration

Have an assortment of wine, beer, seltzers, and non-alcoholic options is a great start to hosting your Friendsgiving. From there, you can determine if you want to provide a specialty cocktail for the evening. These can be especially fun if a theme is involved for a gathering. Consider a blood orange margarita for a murder mystery party. Or something indulgent like a spiked hot chocolate for a streaming party. Going with a drink that can easily be converted into a mocktail is a thoughtful touch for anyone not drinking alcohol. Once you’ve got your bases covered, get creative and have fun with the rest!

Kid-Friendly Friendsgiving

Now that we’re the parents, gathering with friends might look a little different than it used to. What better way to celebrate how far everyone has come than by including everyone in the festivities? There are lots of great ways to include the kiddos in on the fun. Including them in the games, watching family-friendly movies, or teaching them about other cultures and traditions are great options.

You also can’t go wrong with a good old fashioned kids table during the meal. While the adults catch up, the kids can enjoy spending time together as well. Of course, we’ll want to have a few ways of keeping them entertained during the event. Some options include encouraging pretend play, having crafts for them to do, or having a showing of their favorite holiday movie. You can also never go wrong with crayons and Thanksgiving coloring pages that will keep them occupied for hours. Step it up a notch by purchasing a specific tablecloth or placemats they can color on to really feel like they’re a part of the event.

Etsy | Tiny Expressions Store
‘Thankful’ Coloring Table Cover
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friendsgiving games
Etsy | Meri Meri Inc.
Thanksgiving Coloring Placemats
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Enjoying the Time Spent Together

All the planning in the world can’t replace even a moment of quality time with loved ones. Remember that it’s not about hosting the perfect event. It’s all about gathering with important people and being grateful for your time together. For more tips on perfecting your hosting game this season, be sure to check out The Everymom’s Ultimate Guide to Everyday Gatherings.