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How to Throw a Kickass Friendsgiving

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There is no better way to unload your family holiday baggage than to throw a Friendsgiving Party for all your besties. Especially if you spent the first 25 Thanksgivings of your life gagging down dry turkey and bready stuffing while sitting in an old lady living room full of doilies. But even if your grandma knew how to cook a turkey and your aunts didn’t get into ugly spats about the pie selection, you probably had very little say in how your first Thanksgiving celebrations went down. You went with the flow of the gravy and did what was expected of you. A proper Friendsgiving allows you to take that power back and do Turkey Day your way (which might mean no turkey at all) and this is a most excellent situation.

The Friendsgiving Venue

dolores park

A table and chairs inside some sort of room is always a valid option, but also feel free to let your inner pilgrim run wild. HIstorically San Francisco is 61 degrees and sunny on Thanksgiving day, so why not host your get together at a park or even the beach (no one ever forgets their first sandy turkey). I’m hosting a brunch in the park complete with cranberry croissants, turkey shaped cheese, champagne and traditional stuffing served in ice cream cones (so they look like adorable little horns of plenty). The first Thanksgiving way back in 1621 was probably celebrated outside (according to all the illustrations on the web) so this is keeping with historical traditions too. The extra good news is that a Friendsgiving picnic is much more likely to end in spontaneous kickball or bocce ball, eliminating the need for a post meal nap/coma.

Thanksgiving is about sharing though, so ask around and find out if one of your friends who has the space and furniture would like to co-host with you. This will divide the responsibilities and multiply the fun. Also many local bars stay open for the holiday and if you ask nice they will probably let you bring in your grub.

The Friendsgiving Grub


image from Business Insider

This is where things can get interesting, because while most of us are very ‘live and let live’ about things like gay marriage and legalizing marijuana, please don’t fuck with our turkey and stuffing on the big day of thanks. I found this out about myself a few years back when my little sister suggested we have pizza for our main Thanksgiving meal. Nothing like a little pre-holiday tantrum to work up an appetite. So if you decide to get completely non-traditional let your guests know so they can bring some Oscar Meyer turkey if absolutely necessary.

And it is true that some of what we consider “traditional” is more about America in the 1950’s than it is about Plymouth in the 1620’s. The original Thanksgiving meal probably had quite a bit of seafood, lots of venison, swans (!) and no pumpkin pie at all. In fact the first Thanksgiving meal was downright paleo because the settlers had run through their stores of sugar and flour so were unable to make traditional pies and breads. Historians speculate that those crafty settlers made their pumpkin pies in the pumpkin which meant less dishes to wash for everyone.

If you are someone who has never loved the traditional fare now is the time to let your culinary freak flag fly. I mean who says you have to put stuffing in the turkey? You could put toys or candy or anything you want up in there. And who says there has to be a turkey at all? Make it all about  bacon, or get vegan or order Chinese Food. Get creative and if things really go off the rails your friends will have a great story to tell for years to come.

On a very practical note delegating is key for a successful event. Unless you are master chef with an unlimited budget who enjoys total culinary control asking people to bring stuff is key. A simple method if for you to do the basics and have your friends fill in the gaps with salads, desserts, sides, etc. Stores tend to close on Thanksgiving so make sure you have everyone bring enough drinks, this is not the time to pretend that your friends aren’t booze hounds.

The Friendsgiving Vibe


Obviously being thankful is a big part of this holiday, so helping everyone to get grateful as fuck is your main job. This can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, so feel free to get creative. Going around and having each person say what they are grateful for is a tried and true tradition. You can also have your guests write what they’re grateful for on autumn colored post-its and create a tree of gratitude on your living room wall (free inspirational art!). Or how about using paper table coverings and supplying crayons and markers so people can draw pictures of things they’re grateful for? Or let them get their DIY on with  Gratitude Cootie Catchers or get interactive with a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.

And even though the story most of us were told as kids about the original Thanksgiving celebration is probably total bullshit, celebrating our differences while eating pie is still a worthy cause. Have people share their favorite Thanksgiving tradition or one they’d like to start (frozen turkey bowling perhaps?). Try to invite a mix of people with different ages, backgrounds and binge watching preferences and get ready for the magic to happen.

The number one guideline for throwing a rockin’ Friendsgiving is to make sure you are having fun too. You may have been raised by people who martyred themselves on holidays staying chained to the stove and sweating every detail, but you can break this chain. Asking for lots of help will not only help you have fun, but your guests will dig it too. Everyone likes to feel needed, especially if you bribe them with wine.

What are your favorite Friendsgiving traditions?

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Heather Robinson - Artisanal Trouble Maker

Heather Robinson - Artisanal Trouble Maker

Heather Robinson has been doing stupid stuff in San Francisco for almost 10 years. She loves dive bars, typewriters, and creative people. Buy her a beer and she'll solve all your problems.