I love Thanksgiving. I love the meal planning and preparation, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the football on TV, and of course, the family time! In addition to the big day spent with our families, many of us want to celebrate the gratitude we feel for the friends who feel like family. The friends who understand us on a deep level. The Francis to our Clare, the Ignatius to our Xavier, the Pope John Paul II to our Mama T. Every year I wish I could spend a day of intentional thankfulness with those people who feel like family. God bless the millennials for coming up with “Friendsgiving.”
What is Friendsgiving?
In today’s pop culture, there are ample weird trends and tons of random national holidays (I’m looking at you, #nationalavocadotoastday). But there is one evolution in particular I’m happy to support: Friendsgiving!
Essentially, Friendsgiving is a traditional big Thanksgiving event, only it’s celebrated with your friends. Since Thanksgiving Day is typically reserved for family gatherings, Friendsgivings usually take place the weekend before or after the big day.
During this time of year, many of us are caught up in family, job, and education responsibilities that it can be intimidating to even think of adding another event to our calendar (much less planning one). But it is possible to host a memorable and meaningful event without requiring all our time and energy. I’ll show you how to put together an easy Friendsgiving with a Catholic twist!
How to Host a Simple Friendsgiving
1. Invite Friends Online
You can keep this event casual and relaxed by setting the tone from the get-go. You can send paper invitations, but I suggest either creating an event on Facebook or emailing your guests. It keeps everything low-key and low-pressure. And saves a tree or two (go, Captain Planet!).
2. Make it a Potluck
Friendsgiving doesn’t have to involve the traditional Thanksgiving meal. In fact, I think mixing it up helps the day stand out for your guests. Ask everyone to bring a pot of their favorite soup. Bring some recipe cards to exchange. That way, everyone gets to try each other’s favorite family recipes and soak up every last drop with chunks of warm French bread. It also takes the pressure off you, the host, to execute an entire multi-course meal on your own.
3. Make Your Table Cloth an Activity
Use brown packaging paper for your table cloth. You can find this kind of paper at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s or on Amazon. It’s inexpensive and very trendy. Use chalkboard markers to write your guests’ names at their places. Leave crayons on the table for kids to draw. When everyone leaves later that night, it’s easy clean up for you! Simply roll up the paper table cloth and discard (sad Captain Planet).
4. Choose Simple Centerpieces
If you’re feeling fancy and want to create centerpieces, cut some foliage from your yard (or your neighbor’s yard) or collect some pretty fall-colored leaves. Sprinkle them down the middle of the table. Add some freshly sliced citrus fruits like lemons and limes, or oranges and dried cloves, or even cinnamon sticks! These items look beautiful and provide a festive fragrance.
5. Practice Gratitude
Either before or after the meal, circle around the table and allow everyone the opportunity to express what they are grateful for this year. Use this time to really contemplate where you’re at in life and to acknowledge the ways God is blessing you.
6. Invite a Priest
Seriously! Invite your parish priest to attend your Friendsgiving. Priests love to be among their community. Ask your priest to say a prayer of thanksgiving for the past year and to pray a blessing over everyone in attendance.
7. In-Source Entertainment
Have any musical friends? Invite them to play an instrument while everyone enjoys dessert and coffee. Ask if they’re willing to lead the group in a few songs of thankfulness to God before everyone departs for home.
November and December are undoubtedly busy seasons. However, I hope that this Friendsgiving guide makes it a little easier for you to host and celebrate those friends who are family.
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Have you ever hosted a “friendsgiving”? Think you might try it this year? Let us know about your plans in the comments below!
Written by Susana Starbuck. Find out more about her here.