Building a Community Through Friendsgiving


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution/Bustle)

Any fan of the TV show Friends might recognize the term Friendsgiving from their many thanksgiving special episodes, but the term in fact did not come from the show.

McKenna Johnson, Editor in Chief

There are only ten holidays on the Federal Holiday Calendar – 11 if you count Inauguration Day, observed every 4 years – but that doesn’t stop Americans from celebrating every and any holiday they chose, such as the latest holiday craze that is Friendsgiving. Americans may just be considered the masters of informal holidays. And why shouldn’t we be? Who doesn’t love an excuse to celebrate, eat good food, stop working, and be with friends and family?

Friendsgiving, a relatively recent informal holiday popularly celebrated in America, is just that; a time to celebrate, eat a potluck style dinner and hang out with friends, before, on or after an overbearing family filled Thanksgiving. That is what makes Friendsgiving so unique. It has no set date it is celebrated. Only around the time that Thanksgiving is celebrated, such as the weekend before or after. The term began popcorning around on the internet between 2004 to 2012, when it really took off. Soon, menu suggestions and etiquette tips for Friendsgiving began flooding the media.

Although there are no ‘official’ rules, many people have taken to social media, newspapers, or magazines to record their own Friendsgiving rules, commonly known as the Friendsgiving Commandments. Amongst these are rules such as “Play agreeable music,” from Erik Helin of The Thrillist, or “Thou shalt honor thy host,” by Maggie Glisan of The Kitchn.

Generally, Friendsgiving is pretty low-key, with a menu that tends to deviate from the traditional Thanksgiving feast; in part to ensure you aren’t eating the exact same meal at Thanksgiving the same week, and in part just to spice it up. However, in the words of Glisan, “Thou shalt never have too many stuffings or potatoes”.

Many students here at Boise High have started their own Friendsgiving traditions as of late. Caroline Dean, a BHS senior, opened up to me about her experiences hosting her own Friendsgiving. “This will be the 4th year we do friendsgiving,” Dean tells me, “And I just try to invite as many people as I can. I’ve always loved cooking since I was super young…I figured it would be fun to get all my friends together and do a friendsgiving, because it’s not as fun as doing Thanksgiving with just your family as it is doing it with a bunch of friends.” It’s important to note that there is no one right way to tackle Friendsgiving. For example, Dean’s Friendsgiving is potluck style, only Dean takes on all of the food. She says, “I try to take on basically all of the cooking, and I have friends bring the drinks and desserts.”

It wouldn’t be Friendsgiving without food and friends. “There’s lots of food, plenty of food,” Dean says. “Everyone sits down and it’s like a very formal get together which is kinda weird, for all of our friends to be sitting at one table…” she explains, adding that “There’s no phones usually, it’s just a really fun time.”

Dean also shares with me a couple of her own Friendsgiving commandments. The first is that everyone needs to dress up. “We appreciate when everyone dresses up,” she says, “Just because it kind of shows a deal of respect… just the fact that we all recognise the holiday and that we all are thankful for each other.” Another commandment, she adds, is everyone pitching in to clean up.  “Something that is huge, with all of that cooking…my kitchen isn’t huge so it gets very messy,” Dean elaborates, “Everyone after we eat, everyone helps clean up.” She continues, saying “I didn’t even realize that would be a huge thing when I first started it a couple years ago, because I didn’t really think about the mess it would create-—but it was so messy! Everyone stepped up, and I didn’t even realize it.”

Overall, Friendsgiving is a fun time for all. “It’s a really fun time to get together on a holiday that really means a lot to many people,” Dean explains, “And friends are a lot of times the only thing that people have, so creating a specific time, specific night in the year that’s dedicated to that is really important. I just recommend doing it cause it’s really fun…It’s not only getting everyone together for a good time, but it’s really building a community.”